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Social Distancing + Seniors — The Story of My Mother-In-Law’s Move

Everyone has a story right now. Obviously. Right? I mean, this is like nothing we’ve ever seen. And not only are we experiencing the reality of what’s happening on the planet. We’re experiencing it in our cities and on our screens. I hit my points where, for my own mental health, I need to unplug from the Covid-19 news. When I seem to snap, I find, is when I see footage of people not taking this seriously.

We’re asking people to stay home, and when you have to go out keep a safe distance and practice good hygiene. We’re not asking you to cross the ocean to go defeat Hitler. What’s being asked shouldn’t be that hard. That is, it shouldn’t be that hard if you can see beyond yourself.

I wanted to write about a little bit of our story this week. Miles’ mom, Eve, is in a beautiful retirement community. She got on a waiting list for her apartment years before moving in. It’s a beautiful space with lots of room for sentimental and material things so precious to her. A 9 room, sunlight filled, happy space, up high overlooking our nation’s capital and the beautiful monuments and architecture that houses our American government.

Today is my mother-in-law’s 88th birthday. It’s such a tremendous milestone in her life. We cannot visit. And she is not in her beautiful apartment in the sky.

For her safety, she has moved to the third floor area that has an outside terrace. She now resides in one room. She needs some extra help, and that extra help is no longer available to her in that gorgeous apartment. That was suspended because of the coronavirus.

I was very ignorant to the total reality of what it is like for many senior citizens with this virus looming. I assumed there would be a natural fear in our elders, knowing that you’re in the most vulnerable part of the population would, of course, stir that emotion. But I did not get that they too would be asked to sacrifice for the health and existence of the greater good at this time. I incorrectly imagined that they would live in a retirement community bubble where life would go on for them as they know it but it was us that had to take precautions. Not so.

Here is an image I got off of a friends Facebook about the importance of social distancing.

I thought it was a powerful visual of what social distancing can to to minimize the devastation of the coronavirus. And make no mistake, at my mother-in-laws retirement home they too are social distancing.

Let me tell you the story about Eve’s move this week. I wish I had photographs to illustrate but I didn’t think it would be a story. Not one I would write anyway. Especially on our blog about living your best life in your hometown and in your travels. lol. But I guess, as this virus affects the planet and her people, this does currently relate to living your best life. We sure will appreciate life more when this is done. Besides, I view this as the point where everything changed.

Late Tuesday morning Miles, his brother, Drew, and I arrived at the Resort (that’s what we call Eve’s retirement home). The place is gorgeous. Impeccably decorated. It has a studio for you to create art in and a gallery to display it. There’s a theater for movies and lectures. A grand piano in the center of its community space. State of the art gym. Indoor pool. Library. Study. Three dining experiences. A market. And what I call the beverage space that boasts a soft serve ice cream machine, carbonated soda dispenser, and self serve fancy coffee.

That fancy coffee was first on my list when we got there. I wanted a coffee while orchestrating the move.

We knew some measures went into place at the Resort. So based off of what we were able to read our plan was for Drew to go get their mother. They were going to take her out to lunch and explain things to her. I was going to hang back and handle the move and decorating her new space.

When we arrived there was a long table immediately when you entered. Two people in masks were sitting there to screen us. Our temperatures were taken as we stated our business. They hand sanitized us and we were then allowed into the lobby.

“I’m going to get a cup of coffee while you check us in,” I declared zipping over to where I often grab a cup to take up to Eve’s apartment. It was dark and there was someone standing there to tell me it was closed. I was somewhat simultaneously stunned and thought: makes total sense.

Then I noticed that the main dining room was closed. And, then, I saw the line of our elders standing there, six feet apart, in line to pick-up a box lunch to go back to their own space and eat by themselves.

Tears flew down my face. And it is a cry that is completely new to me since the Coronavirus Pandemic. I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic, but it’s like it’s my cry for humanity. It happens before I can even process the thought. It’s raw. Heartfelt. Instinctual.

I quickly got myself in check. I didn’t want to insight any additional fear in them. Emotion is contagious. I didn’t want them to feel my sadness and fear. No. I wanted them to feel my love and respect for them coming from, the CDC recommended, 6 feet away.

As I walked back to the lobby where Miles and Drew were waiting, I saw them chatting with the team of social workers, Jessica and Aaron, that I knew would be helping with the move. I could tell things were different before I was close enough to even hear the words.

“One person can go in,” said Jessica. “Ok, so Drew will go get her . . .” said Miles. “I thought Jennifer was moving her? I really want it to be only one in, not one in at a time. You can visit when all of this lifts.” Aaron said, “don’t worry if you forget something we will be here and can go get it for her tomorrow.”

Oh my God. What news. Wow. Yet another unbelievable thing in this crazy time.

I went into the building which has such a strange energy, found my mother-in-law, and delivered her to her boys who were waiting with box lunches for them to eat in the car. They drove around to show her the cherry blossoms and some of the beauty in this world. And explained what was happening to her because of the ugliness currently affecting this world.

When Eve returned from her outing with her beloved boys, Jessica brought her up to the new space where I greeted her. I, again, explained what was happening and show here where everything was in this new space. I was the last bit of family allowed to be with her during this time.

There are moments and actions in your life that you can really look back on and be super proud of. Making that space as comfortable, inviting, and homey, as possible for Eve is one of those moments for me.

What’s not something I’ll look on fondly from my life — or even really think about. Hanging out at a beach when you could have self isolated and socially distanced to keep your own loved ones, and the loved ones of your loved ones, safe and healthy.

We’re all one. Wake up. Do your part. That’s what you will be proud of.


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