A “Quarantine” View– Looking West from the Third Floor
by Jackie Pratt
When Neighborhood Falmouth asked me to write a column presenting a view of the quarantine while living in a ‘community’, I was not sure I was a good representative of “community living.” I tend to be somewhat solitary – so much so that a friend once noted: “I can leave you alone with a bag of coleslaw mix and you’ll have a party by yourself.” Only because I know isolation can lead to depression and death do I work at reaching out from my hermit’s comfort zone.
If you have to hunker down and stay at home my apartment makes for a pretty comfortable bunker. I have things I love around me. There are good books, appealing art, a dozen orchids (mostly blooming) and great light. My large bay window overlooks downtown Falmouth to the west and frames glorious sunsets. Additionally, I have a balcony that allows me safe outdoor space to watch birds and bunnies and grow a container garden featuring tomatoes, herbs and flowers. Recently two hawks entertained me with a swooping “air dance” directly above me.
My married daughter lives in Columbus, Ohio where she is a Critical Care Trauma NP. I worry about her constantly. She is married to a great guy who has been spending a lot of time caring for my granddaughter, Emerson Rose, a cute redhead who laughs a lot. Not long ago my daughter connected me to an album of photos and videos stored in the “CLOUD” so if I begin to feel despair or even when I just want a smile, I can watch her learn to walk, climb stairs, dance, swirl and twirl, and use a spoon and fork. Because she is 16 months old, and a little bit naughty, she tries to gently comb her dog with her fork! I get to see what’s happening daily and we have wonderful Zoom visits. As to other family, I keep in touch with my brother and his family as well as my brother-in –law.
In my building I have 5 or 6 women friends who, like me, are seniors and have some mobility issues. We stay in regular contact, worry about each other and each know that if you need to borrow a trash bag or a cup of sugar help is there, even with social distancing. I’m looking forward to sharing tomatoes and herbs by tying a plastic bag to their apartment doorknobs.
My great apartment building comes with a staff that has tried to step up during the stay at home order. I am never hesitant about going to staff with a problem and recently called downstairs because I was running into residents not wearing face coverings. They put up signs and asked me to call and let them know who doesn’t wear masks. Though I grew up in a family that honored privacy, I have a wonderful family and I really want to stay safe, so I will share names of the “unmasked” with the building staff. After all, I am Emerson’s “Wicked Nana” and she needs a Wicked Nana to buy silly things , sing silly songs and almost never say: “No.” I don’t want to argue or preach but, no matter where you live, if you are going to be with other people, please wear a mask. All the “wicked nanas” out there will thank you!
It scares me that there seems to be a movement to give up the fight against COVID-19. Just recently, there were 9 states where the virus had spiked. There were more spikes today as I type this. I know a lot about germs that want to kill you because when I had a hip replacement I developed MRSA. I learned that some diseases are really hard on the body. Because my post MRSA life was such a lifestyle change, I didn’t resist the stay-at-home order. The CDC and my daughter have suggested that as a vulnerable elder I need to continue to stay safe. That means I limit my trips outside my home even though I really wanted to be a part of the recent protests. After all, my protest career started in 1968 but instead of participating I have sent small checks and will vote with a mail in ballot.
I watched in wonder as the shut down happened. People changed their lifestyles almost overnight to fight a virus and I am amazed and grateful. I hope and pray the good progress we have made in Falmouth will not be lost. I know people may be bored and while I recognize that I have a high tolerance for entertaining myself (all it takes is coleslaw and a book), we must stay vigilant. One thing that helps me is my connection with Neighborhood Falmouth which provides me with a support network as a member and a feeling of being useful as a volunteer. It makes me keep track of the days of the week because I answer the phones on Thursdays when I get to hear how other seniors are doing and how life is going for them.
I am grateful to have services in place that many folks need. I have an emergency “button” around my neck, a terrific Home Maker, and a laundry service - all thanks to Elder Services. The Senior Center delivers food and the Falmouth Public Library provides Homebound Book Service. The Library did shut down for awhile but contactless delivery has resumed. If I need a quick trip, I know I can take a CCRTA Dart bus that will pick me up and bring me home, I get to ride on the wheelchair lift. Should I ever need a trip outside CCRTA hours, NF has found me a volunteer willing to deal with me and my heavy wheelchair. Life is good.
Jackie Pratt is a Neighborhood Falmouth member and volunteer.
Silver Threads July 2020. Published in the Falmouth Enterprise.