She doesn’t know that those most at risk are the elderly and that at 96, she’s a non-moving target.
She doesn’t realize that the virus takes the most vulnerable, and those who live in a “memory care” facility are the most vulnerable.
The sweet man who visits her often, who says he’s her son (But how can that be? He’s old. Must be her husband, or her nice next door neighbor). But why did he stop coming by with flowers and a stream of conversation she can’t follow?
And what happened to the tall slim woman who sits with her every week, holds her hand, and says in a lilting voice, “You and I have been best friends for 30 years.” The visitor calls herself “Sandy,” like sand at the beach. Sandy always brings flowers and a smile as wide as the outdoors. Where is she?
And how about that woman who bounces in with too much energy and says, “Hi Mom!” with a shaky smile and watery green eyes. Sometimes she brings noisy little ones along. They call her “Nanny” or “Great-grandmom.”
Where are they now?
No one can visit my once-vibrant, still-feisty mom who remembers little but responds to smiles and flowers and cheerful 10-minute-conversations. Her minister can’t visitor her, nor her son, nor her best friend, nor me.
I call my mom’s main caretaker, the one who’s name is “Hope” and who talks about my mom like she’s not a cranky demented patient, but as if she’s a funny, amazing woman with loving family and friends.
“Your mom is fine,” Hope gushes. “The hospice nurse tried to take her vitals today and your mom yelled and screamed and wouldn’t let the nurse near her. Then when the nurse turned around, your mom winked at me. She is incorrigible!”
I laugh. Yup, my mom is fine. Now. But what about….
“We are so safe here,” Hope says, following my unspoken thoughts. “All staff and doctors immediately have their temperature checked and wash their hands with soap and water as soon as they enter the lobby. I’m here with your mom every day, and when I leave I go straight home. I live alone. Well, with my daughter. Who’s pregnant and at risk so we’re waiting every day for labor to begin.”
I pause. This is love. And responsibility. And care. Despite her own worries.
Hope maybe doesn’t understand my silence. “I will always be there for your mom,” she assures.
How do I express thanks to these caretakers who treat our family like their family?
Perhaps that’s the point.
Because of the caretakers, our elderly have “family visitors” every day.