At 83 years old, Carol Wheeler says she’s ready to retire from nursing

Wheeler works at Estes Park Assisted Living as a clinical nurse, where she's around the same age as many of the residents.
Published: May. 18, 2023 at 2:36 PM MDT
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ESTES PARK, Colo. — Every once in a while, a person proves a job isn’t what they do, but how they do it.

At Good Samaritan Society’s Estes Park Assisted Living, Carol Wheeler makes her job as a nurse about the people.

She comforts Selma Williams when she talks about how she didn’t want to come here, but now she’s happy.

When Don Gallup lost her wife, she grieved alongside him.

“Seventy-three years they were married,” said Wheeler.

“Yeah, I miss her,” said Gallup, who is 100-years-old.

“I do too, I do too,” said Wheeler.

Wheeler has more experience than any other person working there.

“I know there was one staff member that came and they said they were frightened when they talked to me,” she said. “I can be very direct. But I’m here for the residents. This is their home.”

Wheeler knows her stuff. After all, she’s been a nurse for a very long time.

“Since 1960,” she said. “Well, I’m 83, and it’s a 55 and older population here.”

The people who live here see her age as a strength.

“I wish she’d be here forever as a nurse,” said Williams, who is 91.

Beverly Henderson knew Wheeler before she came to the assisted living facility. They were both nurses at different practices.

“When I came here it was comforting to know somebody who knew who I was or what I did,” said Henderson.

The two sit together on a couch, knowing they don’t have much time left.

“I think she’s awesome,” said Henderson. “She had a big job to do and she did it so well -- still.”

“True,” said Wheeler. “Till tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow’s the day?” asked Henderson.

“Today’s the day,” replied Wheeler. “Tomorrow I’ll be here for five minutes.

Wheeler has decided it’s time.

“You’re retiring?” Asked Gallup.

“I’m retiring, I’m going to Iowa” said Wheeler. “My granddaughter lives in Iowa City so we’re going to be living near them.”

Starting over with her family means an end to her career.

“We notice when she’s gone a couple days,” said Williams.

It’s the right decision for her, but it’s not easy leaving this other family behind.

Henderson said she was getting “hot eyes” as she tried to hold back tears.

“But you’ll be fine,” said Wheeler. “You’re my greeter. You’re my miss personality.”

“Thank you,” said Henderson.

“You are wonderful,” Wheeler told her.

“You are too,” said Henderson.

The hot eyes couldn’t be avoided.

“You’re fine you’re not gonna get hot eyes,” said Wheeler.

“They’re already hot,” laughed Henderson.