LIMA — Gladys and Nigel describe themselves as glass half full people. Despite both being disabled, they spend a lot of time volunteering their time to help others, mostly through Nigel’s love of music.
Nigel has been on Social Security disability benefits with congestive heart failure, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and arthritis for 17 years now. His wife of 32 years, Gladys, began having gallbladder problems in 2017 in addition to issues with her kidneys and liver, resulting in fluid buildup that has to be drained weekly.
“I can’t just sit here and do nothing,” Gladys said as to why she stays involved in the community. She began volunteering 10 years ago with an elderly daycare and mentioned that Nigel loves playing songs on his guitar from the 1950s and ’60s.
Having been a performer for years, Nigel fell in love with the response he got at nursing homes. He now plays at homes and car shows across the area. He even picked up his guitar and played a verse of “Runaround Sue” when talking about his issues.
“Usually when I play, I will also tell jokes, and just to see them smile and dance — because a lot of people when they get sent away, their kids and relatives have their lives going on — so for a couple of hours I can make them smile,” Nigel explained. “I always feel good when we leave there.”
Gladys always accompanies Nigel on his gigs. At one nursing home, she remembers a woman who was dancing and backed up into Gladys accidentally, then just sitting in her lap. The woman had a satin-like dress on, so she had to hold her in her lap to avoid slipping off while the woman continued to dance.
“We have been on the receiving end of that help, so I always just try to do my best to give that back in some way,” Nigel said.
Gladys has a schedule in her phone of the local non-perishable and produce drives to help out with groceries. They were also able to get several things to help with their mobility from the Allen County Council on Aging and Goodwill, but they are still in need.
From the Adopt a Stocking Fund, Gladys and Nigel are hoping to be able to get support railings for their porch and toilet, a stepping stool and funds to replace the heating element that went out in their stove a few months ago.
On their wish list are also two twin beds. The couple currently has one queen-sized bed, but their bedroom is so small that it has to be pushed up against the wall where one person is not easily able to climb out of bed. Gladys has moved to sleeping on a fold-up mattress in another room.
“I don’t want to say that the honeymoon’s over, but it’s not easy to get up and down at all,” Nigel continued to joke. “If we had twin beds, that would at least leave a gap in between for each of us.”
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.