CICOA Client Perseveres After Death of Husband, COVID and Health Setbacks

Written by

When Tamara France first met Sallie Preston five years ago, she felt sorry for the woman. At only 67, Sallie is blind in one eye and losing vision in her other eye. Her leg, three fingers and toes have been amputated. She has kidney disease, coronary artery disease, diabetes, neuropathy and MRSA. She had a triple bypass in 2007 and uses a wheelchair. Sallie doesn’t complain.

The more Tamara got to know Sallie, the more she marveled at the woman’s perseverance, her bubbly attitude and her faith. Tamara is Sallie’s care manager at CICOA.

“She is such an inspiration,” Tamara said.

Even this spring when Sallie faced heartache and a health scare, she wouldn’t let it consume her.

Hospitalized with COVID-19, she receives devastating news

In April, she was in severe pain and called a cab to take her the hospital. The maintenance supervisor saw Sallie come out of her apartment in distress.

“He said, ‘I’m calling you an ambulance,’” Sallie recalls. “I said I was taking a cab. He won out. The ambulance beat the cab here.”

It was a good thing, too, because Sallie became unconscious in the ambulance and had to be resuscitated on the way to the hospital and again in the emergency room. Sallie had COVID-19.

As soon as she was able, she tried calling home, but John, her husband of 46 years and her primary caregiver, didn’t answer the phone. She asked a neighbor to check on John, and when that failed, called police, who confirmed her worst fears. John had passed away. He beat colon cancer 30 years ago, but it had come back with a vengeance, Sallie said.

“Devastation is an understatement,” Tamara said of her client’s situation. “Sallie was alone in the hospital with uncertainty about her own health as she battled the virus, she loses her husband to his battle with cancer, and she cannot see anyone in person. Imagine what she was feeling during this time?”

A life full of love and a positive attitude

Tamara called Sallie daily to check on her, and despite Sallie’s sorrow, she continued to use words of positivity and encouragement.

“I know I’m here for a purpose and reason,” Sallie said, adding she just wants to love and help people.

Sallie and John
Sallie and her husband John

That’s probably what drew John to Sallie nearly five decades ago. The two met when she was catering a banquet at a church he attended. He offered her a ride home. She turned him down. He persisted, until she accepted his offer. Once at her house, she invited him in for coffee as a thank-you, but she had no interest in seeing him again.

He complimented her on the coffee, and she retorted: “Good, it’s instant, and now it’s time for you to go.”

Sallie and John
Sallie and her husband John

That was the beginning of the life John and Sallie built together. She finally agreed to marry him after his third or fourth proposal. A Navy veteran who grew up in Maryland, John took a job driving semi trucks. Sallie spent a year on the road with her husband traveling the country. A year was enough, though. They had a good life, she said. He took care of her. He read the Bible to her, and they had a lot of good conversation. Every year, he sent her on a cruise with girlfriends, and the time apart always made them even closer when she returned home.

It takes a village to support seniors living independently in their homes

Sallie has fully recovered from COVID, and she’s back home in her apartment, where CICOA arranges her in-home care and provides meals. Tamara continues to call her regularly to make sure she’s doing OK. Sallie’s only living son wanted his mom to move back to Baltimore, but she’s content here in Indianapolis, at least for now. Her grandchildren call her daily, and hopefully, she’ll be able to see them again soon. She’ll be back to planning parties for her apartment complex again, too, when it’s safe.

For now, she’s watching out for others, including a neighbor she was worried about, so she called Tamara to see if CICOA could help provide services.

“Despite all that she had been through during those two months, she continues to be a blessing to others,” Tamara said. “I’ve been touched by Ms. Preston’s determination of faith that no matter what she has been through, she continues to stand firm in her dedication to her God.”


Your generous gift provides the support and reassurance that seniors like Sallie need when faced with unthinkable circumstances.


More News & Stories

CICOA Blogs News

Medicaid Waiver waiting lists begin to reopen

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration’s (FSSA) Office of Medicaid Policy & Planning has begun to invite individuals off the waiting lists for PathWays and Health & Wellness waivers. FSSA had implemented the waiting list in April as part...
Happy Older Couple Hulahooping

Empowering Independence: How We Help Older Adults and People with Disabilities Thrive

Every year, the 4th of July reminds us of the precious gift of freedom. But what does independence truly mean, especially as we age or face physical limitations? At CICOA, we believe that independence isn't just about physical autonomy; it's...
USAging Moms Meals Community Champion 2024

CICOA Case Manager Receives Community Champion Award

Tauhric Brown accepts the Community Champion Award for Care Manager Richard Gaidoo Richard Gaidoo, a case manager for CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions, has been named recipient of the 2024 Community Champion Award. Tauhric Brown, President & CEO of CICOA,...