Not even ‘pane’ of separation is keeping Cedar City couple apart during quarantine

Clyde Turner greets his wife Marion Turner through the window of her room at Cedar Health and Rehabilitation, Cedar City, Utah, March 2020 | Photo courtesy of Aimee Charlton, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Quarantine measures associated with the coronavirus epidemic may be keeping one longtime Cedar City couple apart, but family members say they are confident that Marion and Clyde Turner’s physical separation is merely temporary.

Clyde Turner and Marion Turner in an undated family photo taken around 2017, Cedar City, Utah | Photo courtesy of Aimee Charlton, St. George News / Cedar City News

Aimee Charlton, the Turners’ daughter, says her 87-year-old parents haven’t been away from each other this long – nearly three weeks – during their entire 66 years of marriage. 

“My mom was placed in the care center just before the quarantine,” Charlton told Cedar City News. “It’s been really tough. My dad was visiting her about four or five times a day in person, and then one day he showed up with tulips and her favorite black licorice and they told him the news. They stopped him at the door and said, ‘We’re sorry. You can’t come in.’ He was heartbroken.”

Undaunted, Clyde Turner was determined to make sure his lifelong sweetheart knew he was still nearby. With the permission and assistance of the staff at Cedar Health and Rehabilitation, he has been able to continue visiting his wife, through the window of her room.

“He won’t leave Cedar for longer than a few hours in case she needs something,” Charlton said of her father. “He still goes every day and takes her a little something and visits with her through the window.”

One of their favorite pastimes has been to play tic-tac-toe with each other by writing on the window glass with erasable markers. Family members were also able to arrange for a group Facetime video call on March 15, to celebrate Marion’s 87th birthday.

“It was soon after the official quarantine and there were so many of us – children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren – that Facetime wouldn’t allow us to all be on at once because we had too many,” Charlton said. “We had to take shifts being on the call.”

Charlton expressed her appreciation for the care center staff for helping make the birthday call happen.

“They were patient and helped my mom with the technology to make this happen for her birthday and we are so grateful,” she said. “My dad was outside the window during the call and we could all hear him holler, ‘I love you and don’t forget to do your exercises!’” 

With the help of a nurse, Clyde Turner plays tic-tac-toe on the window with his wife Marion Turner, Cedar Health and Rehabilitation, Cedar City, Utah, March 2020 | Photo courtesy of Aimee Charlton, St. George News / Cedar City News

Marion Turner, whose maiden surname was Sevy, is a native of Cedar City, while Clyde Turner was born and raised in Milford. They met as students while attending Branch Agricultural College (now Southern Utah University) in Cedar City. They were married June 19, 1953. They lived in Las Vegas for nearly 40 years before moving back to Cedar City in retirement 27 years ago.

Charlton, who lives in American Fork, said she has been assisted by her siblings Lisa Turner Hogge of Alpine and Russell Turner of St. George, along with their families, in helping look after both Marion and Clyde Turner.

“We have all been taking turns caring for my dad, who is alone, and making sure my mom feels loved through the window,” Charlton said.

“Mom has been nervous and scared, but the ability to get phone calls and window visits has helped her feel loved and calmer,” Charlton added. “At the same time she is nervous, she has also shown us she’s still her sassy self and has even let a few swear words slip that we haven’t heard come out of her mouth in many, many years!  Some of her silly comments have brought us all laughter at a time when we needed it.”

“There are so many bright spots that have happened,” Charlton continued, adding that her parents’ generation was one that didn’t need to rely heavily on technology to survive. 

“Finding ways to connect with them has taken a lot of teamwork and creativity, that is for sure,” Charlton said.

Although the Turners have experienced plenty of hardships during their lives, the current COVID-19 situation is unprecedented, their daughter added. 

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my lifetime,” Charlton quoted her mother as saying. “We have to take it one day at a time, sometimes hour by hour.”

Thank-you notes from the family of Marion Turner, taped to the top of boxes containing pizza for the staff of Cedar Health and Rehabilitation, Cedar City, Utah, March 2020 | Photo courtesy of Aimee Charlton, St. George News / Cedar City News

Charlton said the care center staff has been tremendously helpful over the past few weeks. She particularly thanked dietitian Alishia Hawk for going the extra mile to make sure Marion is eating properly. 

Charlton said as a token of her appreciation, she recently ordered pizzas by phone from nearby 5 Buck Pizza and had them delivered to the care center staff. 

“Since I don’t live there, Addy from the North Main store in Cedar went above and beyond to allow me to send to her personal email the thank you note I created from my family.  She printed my note and taped it to the boxes of pizza before they were delivered.”

Charlton said she and the rest of her family are looking forward to the day, hopefully in the not too distant future, when the inseparable lovebirds Marion and Clyde Turner will once again be able to hold hands, hug and kiss each other. 

“Watching our mom and dad’s true love story stay strong and present under the most difficult of circumstances has given all of us a reminder of what is most important,” Charlton said.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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