CAREGiver Sherrie Littrell can’t help it. Tears have filled her eyes from time to time whileassisting client August Guarino and his late wife, Lena. For one, Sherrie witnessed a love storythat has been interrupted only because 99-year-old Lena passed away March 31, 2018, followinga long battle with congestive heart failure. The couple had been married 76 years, since Nov. 23,1941.
“Of course,” Sherrie said, “August still loves her dearly and misses her. He knows there will be awonderful reunion at some time in the future. For now, we CAREGivers vow to take good careof him.”
Sherrie recalled more than four years ago when she began helping Lena on behalf of owner KellyHutchison’s award-winning Home Instead Senior Care ® franchise in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.She was the first CAREGiver to come into their home, but August was not initially a client.
“For the first two weeks, I didn’t do a thing. He prepared lunch for me all the time. For example,he made pizza. I sent a picture of it to Client Care Manager Colleen. I had tears in my eyes whenAugust said, ‘I need to take care of you women,’ meaning his wife and CAREGiver. Little bylittle, I started to do more for Lena. It took a while for August to accept the help for his wife. Atone point before she passed away, he became a client, too,” Sherrie said.“Before I arrived on the scene as a CAREGiver, August had tried to take care of Lena and wascooking, cleaning and doing the laundry, everything. His niece saw how much he was doing andsaid he needed help, so they brought on Home Instead Senior Care. Safety was an issue. He wasresistant to help, and we told him, ‘It’s time to enjoy yourself.’ He wasn’t receptive at first to alive-in CAREGiver, but he wanted everything to be about Lena and her care.”In recent months, Sherrie received the opportunity to work in the Home Instead office, primarilyin the role of introducing CAREGivers and clients. But she couldn’t bear to leave 101-year-oldAugust. “I said, ‘Oh, hell no. I am not giving up August, at least completely. This is my man.’ Iwork 9 to 12 on Tuesdays with him to give one of the other CAREGivers a break, not that she‘needs’ it, but I want her to have it,” Sherrie said with a chuckle. “August has two live-inCAREGivers – Rosa and Janice – who are wonderful people.”Sherrie praised August’s sharp, computer-like memory, pointing out he can remember his firstcar, its color and most details about it. He also can tick off the addresses where he and Lena livedduring more than three-quarters of a century of marriage. Although a niece is his power ofattorney, August pays his own bills. He resides on the second floor of a townhouse inSchaumburg, where he’s lived since 1995.“It’s 17 steps. For a long time, he used to walk the steps often just for exercise. I am certainthat’s why he has lived this long – he has stayed in good shape,” Sherrie said. “August now usesa walker, and the CAREGivers always have a gait belt. CAREGivers help with personal care, buthe does everything else himself. His appetite is good, and he takes vitamins every morning.”Sherrie added: “August gets out, and Rosa has taken him to church. He plays Lotto, and we hopehe hits it big. His 78-year-old brother Nick comes by every day and buys the Lotto tickets.August stays informed – he watches TV and reads the newspaper. His Christmas tree has beenup continuously for five years because Lena told him: ‘Don’t take it down.’ Of course, his CandyCane Lane neighborhood and his involvement in it is legendary. Rosa tried to decorate hishallway and stairs with lights, and August corrected the spacing because he wanted the samedistance, same measurements. His eyesight is great but his hearing is not.”
With Sherrie’s help, August went into more detail:
Question: Where and when did you meet Lena?August: “I was 22 when I went with a friend to a wedding where I had not been invited. I sawLena Ferina dancing at the reception and told my friend, ‘She is beautiful. That’s the girl I wantto marry.’ Her parents were strict, and Lena and I sneaked out on dates. I had to introduce mymother to my future father-in-law before things could go on. Those two had a privateconversation, and when they came out, everything was OK with my dating Lena. Her daddemanded I get his daughter back to their house by 9:30 p.m. I had to listen to him. He was a bigguy, 6-foot-2. Six months later, we were engaged. We never traveled and never had children, butwe enjoyed each other’s company. We enjoyed life together and kept busy working, too. Lenakept an immaculate home and worked in a bank until she was 75. She always was dressed to theT. She wanted me to sell my electrician business because she said I deserved retirement.”
Question: Were your parents as long-lived as you are?August: “Mom was 62 when she died, and Dad was 82. My father was a vegetable wholesalerwho owned three horses. I had 13 siblings, and only four are still alive, Charles, Jack, Nick andJoe. Sam was the oldest, and I think he lived to 105. When I turned 100 on Sept. 22, 2017, all ofmy surviving siblings were at the birthday party.”
Question: What were your working days like?August: “I drove a truck and unloaded meat cars for my first job when I was 17. But I decidedon the electrical trade in high school. I went into the military and drove a gasoline truck in 1942and 1943, spending about 15 months in the States. I was stationed in Midland, Texas, wherethere were 27 planes to take care of. By the time I was 24, nobody could hold me back. I was anelectrician who had my own business and kept busy. It was mostly commercial motor repair,one-quarter horsepower to 2,000 horsepower. I worked at Wrigley chewing gum company,repairing alternators. I spent 75 years in the electrician workers’ union and received a diamondpin this year. Lena made me retire at age 65 in 1982 after 31 years of being self-employed.”
Question: What can you tell us about Home Instead Senior Care?August: “These women really take good care of me. They are doing a terrific job and took greatcare of my wife. I enjoy every minute of the day with them. I can’t ask for anything better. Theykeep my home immaculate. I always want a clean house. They seem to like me. Sherrie jokinglysays she wants to kidnap me. Lena always gave the CAREGivers a nasty look if any of themhovered around me.”
Question: What do you look forward to doing with the rest of your life?August: “My CAREGivers tell me, ‘You can live until you’re 120.’ They also want my brotherNick to buy me a Lotto ticket that’ll bring in millions (laughs). As long as God wants me to stayhere on Earth, I will. Whenever God wants me to go home, I will go join my wife.”
To read about the legendary Candy Cane Lane Christmas lighting and howAugust impacted a suburban Chicago neighborhood for 18 years, click onto these links:https://www.homeinstead.com/205/about-us/featured-stories/candy-cane-lane.