My mother will turn 90 in December, and I haven’t seen her since early March when she was recovering from triple-bypass surgery. It’s doubtful she remembers that time because she was out of it. And because she enjoys the drugs doctors give for pain.
I squeaked in the visit to the Florida rehabilitation center before the coronavirus slammed the country. The last few days I was there, I almost didn’t get in to see her. Entry required signing a form that promised I didn’t have a fever and that I had not been out of the country since the day before when I visited.
My mom is now back in her Florida senior living facility and is healthy and happy. Though her favorite activities—cards and dominoes and pool—have been banished.
No outside visitors are getting into the facility where she lives. And I’m grateful for that. My brother has a part-time home near her, and when he’s there, he waves at her from below her balcony. But still. That’s not a hug or a kiss on the cheek.
When will I get to hug my mom again?
I’m not alone
I’m not alone. I am a drop in the bucket of people who want to see their loved ones before it’s too late.
I feel longing, but many are feeling real pain. Many are waving to their loved ones through hospital windows for the last time.
On a National Public Radio story, Sky Gonzalez says that before his 98-year-old mother went to a nursing facility, he or his brother visited her daily in her home.
“She probably feels that we’ve abandoned her,” he said with cracking voice.
In the same NPR story, Tony Chicotel, an attorney with California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, said that banning nonessential people from nursing homes was wise at the beginning of the pandemic. But now, he’s not so sure.
It’s not keeping COVID-19 from getting into nursing homes, he said.
“The virus finds its way into the building through whoever is coming in, whether it’s staff or visitors,” Chicotel says.
I realize that not getting to hug my mother is minor in comparison to the racial atrocities experienced by people of color in this country and the deaths happening as a result of the virus.
While I hate not being able to visit my mom, I’m so lucky that modern technology allows me to see her on video apps like Marco Polo and FaceTime.
We all have stories to tell about how the virus has affected our lives. What’s yours?
Terri Lackey is director for communication for Women of the ELCA. The photo is of a card that comes with Penzeys spice orders (penzeys.com). If a virtual hug will do you for now, join Women of the ELCA’s letter-exchange project, Dear Friend in Christ.