Technology helps Hemphill nursing home resident attend great granddaughter’s wedding

One family wanted their loved one to see her first great-granddaughter get married and not even the pandemic could stop her from attending.

Technology helps Hemphill nursing home resident attend great granddaughter’s wedding

HEMPHILL, Texas (KTRE) - It has been a challenging time for everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially those inside nursing homes. With restrictions in place, families can’t see their loved ones except maybe through a glass door, window or even video chat. One family wanted their loved one to see her first great-granddaughter get married and not even the pandemic could stop her from attending.

Family means the world to 89-year-old Lavonne Thames. She now resides at the Hemphill Care Center and the thought of missing her oldest great granddaughter’s wedding day was devastating.

“It just blew my mind,” she said. I just couldn’t believe it was happening. I just knew I was going to miss it all.”

Her great-granddaughter Kourtney Pickens was set to get married in May. She wanted all her family and friends there, but COVID-19 restrictions would not allow it. So, she rescheduled for July in Montgomery, Texas, about 150 miles southwest of Hemphill. Then, a surge in COVID-19 cases changed plans once again.

“I could not get over my great-grandma not being there,” Pickens said. “I kind of came to terms with the fact she wasn’t going to be able to get to make it. But my dad wanted to make it possible somehow.”

Her dad Chris Landry, Mrs. Thames grandson, made a call to Hemphill Care Center’s Administrator Tiffani Bradberry and Activity Director Shannon Mitchell.

“They were so cooperative and were just besides themselves and could not wait to help,” he said. “They said, ‘Yes! We’ve got this new TV that we can roll into the rooms.’ They rearranged everything. It was like an extension of the family. They were so excited to help out.”

And then the moment Mrs. Thames thought she would not be able to see.

“It was just fantastic,” Thames said. “This modern technology still blows my mind. I couldn’t believe it was happening. I just knew I was going to miss it all and there I was just seeing them go through the whole procedure. It was mind-boggling. I loved it!”

“I actually felt like she was there and getting to experience it,” Pickens said. “Seeing her reaction and everyone’s reaction was just more than worth it. Like I said, the best we could do, but it worked out pretty well.”

“It meant the world to me,” Landry said. “My daughter was beautiful, and the fact that my grandma got to be there and for them to see each other, something I can’t replace.”

That wasn’t the only surprise. There was a special tribute to Mrs. Thames’ late husband; a picture of him on Pickens’ bouquet.

“When my other great grandma passed away two years ago, she always had told me if you find a penny, it’s somebody from heaven speaking to you,” Pickens said. “So, my mom got a penny from the year Pawpaw Jess was born and put it next to his picture.”

“Her Grandpa Jess was actually a resident here in the nursing home at one point and time, too,” Mitchell explained. “So, that makes the connection even deeper because we really feel like “‘hey that’s our family.‘”

Family sticking together even miles apart.

“Oh, I just appreciate it,” Thames said. “It means so much.”

Mrs. Thames is set to turn 90 years young in October.

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