COPYRIGHT 2020 DEBRA LITTLEJOHN SHINDER
This upcoming Sunday is Mother’s Day, and as Texas and other states continue to open up, this weekend will be a joyous time of reunion for a lot of families. But I’m thinking this morning about how very different this one is going to be for so many other moms, in all those places still under stay-at-home orders, who because of the virus lockdowns won’t be allowed to spend this holiday with their children — perhaps for the first time in some of their lives.
My heart especially breaks for the elderly mothers in nursing homes and hospitals and other such facilities, for whom this might be their last Mother’s Day on earth, and for whom those visits from the kids have been the only bright spots in their now-lonely lives, and who have been deprived of that small pleasure now for going on two months.
Yes, we know that the elderly – especially the ones who already have serious medical conditions, which makes up most of the nursing home population – are the most vulnerable and need to be protected, even as we finally start to allow the young and healthy to get back to business and back to living their lives. But can we at least acknowledge the steep cost we’re placing on their frail shoulders?
Some of them, frankly, don’t have a lot of time left in this life, with or without the COVID virus. This lockdown is stealing that precious time from them, time they can never get back. Many of them are dying alone in isolation, surrounded by healthcare professionals doing a job instead of family members saying a loving goodbye.
In some cases, those medical personnel care and try to serve as inadequate substitutes for sons and daughters and siblings and life-long friends. Some of them are so jaded, so overworked and exhausted, or so emotionally numb that they can’t risk getting “attached” to a patient whose death they may witness soon, so they maintain a cool and detached professional – as well as social – distance. Leaving those sick, scared, often confused old folks feeling even more abandoned and alone.
I know several people whose parents or grandparents are victims of Alzheimer’s, a heartbreaking situation that takes away the memories and even the ability to remember or recognize loved ones. But I wonder if, in some cases now, that might be a blessing in disguise. At least they aren’t missing and longing for people they’ve forgotten.
I heard from one friend who can only talk to her aged mother over the phone and she told me that her mom told her she would prefer to take her chances with the virus in order to see her loved ones again, that she’d rather die sooner than live the way she’s living now in isolation. Of course, she’s not allowed to make that choice and take that risk. I suspect my own mom would have felt the same way. Much as I miss her, I’m also glad that she didn’t have to live to see what’s happened to our country, our rights, and our lives.
This has been, for many of us, an out-of-the-blue assault on our liberty. We have fought for and some of us have now won the right to go back to work, to go out to dinner, to go back to the malls, to go to church, to patronize the small retail shops, and as of tomorrow, to get our hair cut and our nails done. These are things we took for granted just eight weeks ago but now it feels like a huge accomplishment to just be allowed to return to a halfway version of normal life.
But as we rejoice in that victory, let’s not forget that there are so many in the world and in our own country, of all ages, who are still under total lockdown. Spare a moment to say a prayer or shed a tear or at least give a thought for them on this Mother’s Day.