By Juli McDonald

NORTON (CBS) – Like so many families, the Ryans were devastated in March, when Covid-19 took away visits to their elderly mom’s nursing home. Theresa is 90 and suffers from dementia, so technology like FaceTime is confusing. After months of decline, daughter MJ was desperate.

“Then they said, ‘But we do have one night in the laundry room; 3-11 on Thursdays.’ I said bingo!” the Norton woman recalled.

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The longtime health care professional eagerly took the part time gig. By the end of her first shift – she knew this is where she belongs.

Theresa and MJ (Family photo)

“By the end of the evening she was laughing and talking about going to the casino,” MJ said. “She really came back. I said this is worth the laundry.”

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It’s given MJ an even deeper appreciation for the essential employees who keep these facilities clean, safe, and running.

“The true heroes do this work every day,” MJ said. “It’s amazing the hard work people do. Without laundry and housekeeping and maintenance and all the other people who showed up all through this crisis too and continue to show up and risk their own health and family’s health. The whole group of them are unbelievable.”

And she knows her mother would be proud, of how her family comes together when it matters most.

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“Her famous quote has always been since I was little – ‘there’s always an alternate route.’ She’s always said that,” MJ said. “When something gets in your way, find a way around it. I’m lucky I’ve been able to.”

Juli McDonald