"I'm a little nervous," declared my mom, sitting in the middle of the couch, with her coat on, ten minutes before we needed to leave.
It was her first evening out in almost a year. My mom lives in a senior living apartment. Last March, when COVID started, they closed down completely. No residents were allowed to go out. No visitors were allowed to come in. My mom is used to seeing my sisters and I pretty much every week. Betsy, went every Saturday. I took her out to lunch every Sunday. And my other sister, Nancy, and her partner, usually had dinner with her midweek.
My mom is an extrovert. She is used to going out to lunch. And playing bridge. And doing book club twice a month. That first week, she assured us that she would be ok, as long as she could still see her friends.
And then her facility shut down even further. Residents couldn't eat in the dining room, or use the amenities, or play cards in the commons area. Everyone had to stay in their rooms. All the time. Meals were brought up in cardboard to-go boxes. My mom was alone. 24/7. We called every day, and most days several times, but it was really, really hard. I seriously considered taking early retirement and buying a place in her city, sixty miles south of where I live, and moving her in with me. I wasn't sure how much longer she could take being alone.
Finally, after more than one hundred days, her facility reopened. At least kind of. We were allowed to visit my mom, but only in designated areas outside. And only with masks on. No food or drink. And there would be no Sunday visitations. My sisters and I went back to visiting every week. Sometimes we would visit, then go get her lunch, and bring it back for her to eat in her room, alone.
Mid-fall, the facility reopened the dining room. With limited seating capacity. And then a few activities. They could go places on the facility bus, but not get off. We took her out to lunch a couple of times, but those were followed by ten day quarantines for her. Finally, she told us she didn't to go out, because she couldn't stand the quarantines afterward.
But now the world is starting to reopen. My mom's been vaccinated, and I have, and one of my sisters, who is a nurse, has also been. And so we took my mom out to dinner last night, to celebrate her 87th birthday. We went to one of her favorite restaurants, at 5:00 when there were not many people there. My mom had steak, a small filet, and a loaded baked potato, and mushrooms, and creme brulee. Her favorites. At the end, she declared it a very nice evening.
We are hoping for many more. COVID has been hard on her...
I enjoyed reading your post - your love for your mom was so present. Your considerations, the worry, the frustration, the sacrifices - all of it was here in your post. I think the pandemic has been so hard on everyone, but particularly seniors in senior residences. Keeping everyone safe from the virus does not keep them safe from loneliness and even depression. I am glad you could celebrate with your mom. I am sure there will be many more dinners and outings. Thanks for posting this piece. Carol.
Carol, this is such a compelling piece about this year and its effect on our seniors. So glad things are opening up for your mom. Here's to many more dinners and outings together. Can you visit on Sunday now?
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