A Life In Quarantine

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An innocent man has been living a life in quarantine for 9 months.
 
That man is my Father.
 
Today, a story that breaks my heart to write.
 
But, a story that must be told.
 
a life in quarantine pinterest final
 
This is the story of a great man, enduring his latter years through a life in quarantine. We understand the health concerns, and want what’s best for my Father.  That is not the point of this article.  This story is about the realities of living a life in quarantine.  For 9 months.
 
His story is not unique, it’s currently being lived by thousands of members from his “Greatest Generation”.  I understand the logic, and I know folks will argue what’s best.  That argument is not my point, though I’ve spent more time thinking about it than you can imagine.  This isn’t a story about COVID, nor is it a debate about what’s the “right” thing to do.  
 
This is a story of some of its invisible victims. 
 
This is a story of their endurance. 
 
Hidden heroes, struggling to survive each day.  Locked away, seldom seen. Lonely. Alone.
 
Their story seldom told. 
 
In some small way, I hope these words have an impact.  He deserves that.  They all deserve that.
 
During this typically joyful holiday season, we must not forget.
 
We must never forget.
 

A Life In Quarantine

He’s lived a great life. 
 
A college professor in a small town, a great career, impacting thousands of students who still bear his imprint decades later. He doesn’t teach anymore, his recognition as “Professor Of The Year” a distant memory.  While once a great orator, he doesn’t engage in the deep conversations we’ve treasured together over the years.
 
Some things become more difficult with time.
 
He’s a published author, his history of the college a testament to his wisdom and craftsmanship with the written word. If you enjoy reading my words, you have him to thank.  He shared his love of writing with his son, and his son continues on with that family tradition today.
 
He doesn’t craft those words anymore. It’s been over a year since he’s accessed his computer.  He no longer writes, and the only thing he reads is his daily newspaper. It grieves me that he no longer mentions my most recent blog post during our weekly phone calls.  We used to look forward to chatting about my work, but now our talk doesn’t go as deep.   
 
Some things become more difficult with time.
 
I planned on visiting him every quarter in 2020.  My visit in March happened, coincidently, one week before his assisted living facility was locked down due to COVID.  I’ll never regret stopping by that ice cream stand, in spite of the brisk Spring weather, to surprise him and his wife with an unplanned dessert after our dinner out.
 
ice cream before a life in quarantine
Our last dessert together. March 7, 2020
We haven’t gone out for a meal together in the 9 months since.  We’ve never hugged.  We’ve never shaken each other’s hand.  I visited him through his window during our RV trip through Michigan in August, but it wasn’t the same.  No contact, no connection.  Just hollow words through a hollow screen, our anonymous faces hidden behind those mandatory masks.
 
9 Months without an embrace from his children.
 
Some things become more difficult with time. 
 

Life Behind Closed Doors

An assisted living facility across town had some positive tests, so they took the precaution of issuing (yet another) “room quarantine” for all of the residents.  
 
Imagine being quarantined within the confines of an assisted living facility for 9 months, only to find out one December morning you’re now not allowed to leave your room.  That’s my Dad’s life and the life of countless others like him.   
 
They shut him in his room a few weeks before Christmas. 
 
He hasn’t come out since.
 
Merry Christmas?  Not this year.
 

 
A word of thanks is due to all of the folks on the “Front Line”, including the many who are working in nursing homes.  YOU are my Father’s only physical connection to the outside world, and I appreciate what you do every day more than words can convey.  Thank you for your sacrifice, thank you for your care.  Knowing you’re “in there” with my Dad is one of the few things keeping me sane.  A heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you. 
 
Finally, I know many will argue that the lockdown is “in their best interest”.  If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I don’t want to get into that debate, and I don’t think it’s fair for any of us to assume what their best interest is (I won’t be getting into that debate in the comments, so please don’t try)
 
Life in Quarantine.
 
Every Day.
 
For 9 months.
 
Some things become more difficult with time. 
 

 
I don’t have the words to end this post. The point is not to assign blame. This virus has turned the world against itself, the entire situation is horrific beyond words.  This is simply a story of my Dad’s life. 
 
A Life that’s become more difficult with time. 
 
To my Father, and the thousands of others who share your fate this holiday season, I offer my condolences. I offer my prayers. I offer my love. You are not alone. You’re on our minds, you’re on our hearts.
 
To you, a simple poem.
 
A poem so we’ll always remember.
 

my dad life in quarantine
 
 
A Life In Quarantine
 
In Spring, he missed the flowers.
In Summer, he missed the grass.
In Fall, the leaves fell soulless.
It’s winter, this year’s almost past.
 
No hugs has he gotten from family,
No breakfast or lunch with his pals,
He’s living locked down in his bedroom,
I ask, is it really living at all?
 
His life’s been a powerful story,
A family, a job all done well.
But now, after years of great living,
He’s fading away in his cell.
 
His bright light on the hill has been fading,
A dim light on a lonely bath wall,
His friends still respect and admire him,
But they’ve no ability to see him at all.
 
This holiday season, I beg you,
Forget them not, but recall,
Their courage, their patience, their power.
Their final days, spent living in Hell.
 

If you’re interested in sharing the poem with a loved one, a graphic image is below.  Feel free to save it to your phone or computer, or paste it on your Facebook page.  Tell them you love them.  Let them know they’re in your thoughts and prayers this holiday season.  Use it to say “Thank You” to those on the Front Lines, caring for those who are shut-in.

 

66 comments

  1. This post speaks to me – I’m very close to my grandfather and he was in a similar quarantine situation through most of the summer. Luckily his retirement home has loosened up a bit, and so with a few weeks of preparation and a COVID test I could visit him for more extended periods of time around Thanksgiving.

    But still is tough to see someone who derives all of their life’s energy at this point from communication with family and friends be reduced to Facetime for the majority of connection.

    Great post!

    1. My mom went into memory care November 1, 2019. We were have the best time together in years. All the stress off her and me. Our last visit was March 13-her birthday. The next day the lockdown. She has declined so much since the lockdown. She even had Covid. She recovered and is just fine. But others at her facility have not made it. Yes, this is heartbreaking on so many levels.

        1. Sadly, I fear the first half (at least) of 2021 will be a continuation of 2020. The calendar will change but the lives of many will not for the foreseeable future.

    2. As always, well said, Fritz. Danielle’s sister, Gina, found Professor Gilbert a bright spot during her short time at Hillsdale. You have followed in his footsteps with your zest for life, knack for encouragement, and gift with words. Never before have we been challenged to evaluate the meaning of a word as simply complex as “life.” Your love and thought for your dad profoundly express that you understand life. God had blessed you with a big heart, friend. You, like your dad, make a difference. Thanks.

  2. Your post is a reality for so many of us as our elderly parent/s are living their last years alone. My mom too, a widow now, is alone in her home. We talk almost everyday on the phone but sadly the conversations have become much simpler and mainly to check in on how she is doing. Our faith is what keeps us living and our hope for our eternal future. Thank you for writing about your dad and reminding us all to remember our loved ones -to keep reaching out in love and support as we can. It helps to know I am not alone in this too.

    1. “Our faith is what keeps us living and our hope for our eternal future.”

      The future will definitely be better than the present. When that time comes, I’m looking forward to spending an infinite number of joyful days with all those who have passed.

  3. I am going to be more expressive with this comment with the hope of getting the deep understanding of life in facing of the current pandemic.

    I always value quality over quantity. I rather live few days of stimulating and purposeful life than many days of uninterested and non-objective life.

    As we get older, physically and mentally we shifted away from competition; this is the primary source of stimulation for most people in the first half of a natural life.

    It is the second half that imposes a dilemma for many people; “What am I going to do with 20 to 30 years of life?”

    Noted that 300 years ago, you and I will not have this question because I would have died in our late 30’s or early 40’s.

    Covid-19 has made the situation worst. It severely limited the meaningful options an older person can choose to implement and objective (purposeful) life.

    My mom is 72. Covid-19 will not imprison her and I am backing my mom 100%. I am in the process of making drastic changes to our living arrangement to move my mother in with us.

    We will follow all safety protocols with any activities she would like to do with the full knowledge of the consequence.

    I firmly believe she will have a big fat smile on her face if the probability statistic does not work in her favor as long as she is surrounded by family in the last moment.

    1. “I always value quality over quantity.”

      Expressive comment, but well summarized with those 6 words. Good for you for moving mom in with you. My mother-in-law lived with us for 4 years (Alzheimer’s), it seems a small thing to do for our parents if we’re able, given the 18 years they had us under their roof. #NoRegrets

  4. To quote Winston Churchill, this year will go down in infamy. It’s been tough on everyone especially the great (silent) generation. My wife Debbie lost her stepfather this year and we can sympathize with your pain. He served in WWII and had so many stories to share. His loss has created a vacuum that can never be replaced.

    This year has been hard on everyone. Your poem is beautiful and will be remembered. I can’t imagine what it would be like living under quarantine like a prisoner. We can only hope for better times in 2021 with the vaccine.

    Wishing you and Jackie, your father and family all the best. Stay safe and healthy. Prayers and good wishes.

  5. Fritz,
    Sorry to hear about your father being in locked down for the last 9 months. We lost my wife’s uncle after a few weeks in ICU an were never able to speak to him face-to- face until he passed. I look at these situations a little differently in that for all Christians this earth is not our real home and just a temporary place. The trials and difficulties we all face here will be a distant memory when we reach our real home in Heaven with Jesus Christ. I will pray for your father and that you and he will be free to hug each other when we reach Heaven.

    1. This is a lovely sentiment. I have a sister-in-law who uses that sentiment in unkind ways. She doesn’t respect our choices to follow all guidance. She has labeled my husband as “afraid” because he wouldn’t commit to a trip in March (which would require air travel). We are empty nesters, but I am not reluctant to say that I’d like to be alive and healthy to see my other son get married and should my children decide to have a family, to meet and spend time with my grandchildren. I get truly upset that anyone would challenge us (or our faith) for admitting that.

      Aside from ALL that. I feel it my honor and responsibility to do anything I can to support the healthcare workers that I know and care about (and the rest that I don’t). I got emotional when a pediatrician friend posted a photo of her getting her first vaccination, labeling it 9 months and 6 days since she first began testing her patients for covid. Another good friend is a pharmacist at Vanderbilt University Hospital and works with cancer patients. She and her spouse have done NOTHING since the pandemic began because she is trying to protect her patients. She has my utmost respect and appreciation.

      1. I guess I should add that my 92 yo mother (independent living complex) has suffered like everyone else’s, though she can now have 1 family member in her apt and leave with that person (masked) for outdoor visits.

        I know she would chose to see family if she were able to live on her own with the support she needs (though she’d then be w/o the social aspect of her current arrangement), but we also understand the risk to other residents. She’s lived a very long and full life…my mother certainly is at peace in that regard. For my sister that is the designated person, I know she worries about being “the one” that might introduce the virus (though she’s an extremely careful person in her own life).

        The options are not many and none are good. There are many lessons for all of us from just about every conceivable angle.

  6. I had a relative I had to place in assisted living and take over finances back in July. His facility keeps going. In and out of lock
    In rooms see no one. It really is sad. Then again the next facility down the road nearly a quarter of the residents have covid. So I guess it could be worse. Still not good… Hang in there to you and your dad. Vaccine comes first to those in facilities so an end is in sight.

    1. Our situation is very similar. The facility my mother-in-law was in only accepted private pay residents. They did not accept Medicaid. They’ve had zero COVID cases. The facility a few miles away has had over 50% of the residents and over 50% of the staff testing positive for COVID. That facility is the “Medicaid facility” in town and you can tell.

  7. I’m 64 and basically staying home with my husband. Have not seen my adult children in over a year (they live plane rides away). I have food delivered and only go to doctor appointments. Was a little looser this summer and saw 2 friends outdoors and distanced. My 93 year old mother lives on her own in Florida, and except for not eating inside or outside in restaurants, has not changed her life much. Plays cards 4 times a week, grocery shops, gets her hair and nails done, etc. She wears a mask constantly but that can’t be relied on to keep her 100% protected. I keep trying to get her to cut her risk by limiting her outings but she doesn’t listen. After reading your post I see the other side of the coin. I’m grateful my mom is able to live on her own and have the freedom to make her own life choices( that I don’t always agree with)- but I’m still very worried. Your dad will be vaccinated soon and hopefully he and all those in his facility will see better times soon. He’ll have made it to the other side of this mess alive.

    1. Your mom is a lucky woman. I hope I’m able to live on my own at 93, and suspect many folks will be more reluctant to move into nursing homes in the future after witnessing the COVID impact. Hoping that’s a decision I’ll never have to make. It pleases me that my words helped you to “see the other side of the coin”, would encourage you to let your Mom know. She’d appreciate that, I’m sure.

  8. I posted this reply on your FB, but bears repeating. I may not write like you and Dad, but what Dad passed on to me was “feeling from the heart – deeply, honestly, and sincerely.” Without further ado, my response to your FB post: “Well said Fritz, well said. It’s so hard to express his “life” this year without getting into a political debate. It’s not about right or wrong, as you say. It is just about what you feel seeing him struggle with his day to day “living.” Yes, this year has been unlike any other. We are all coping. The elderly shut ins are coping in a method that they can handle – they are literally shutting down physically and mentally without the stimulus of friends and family. Sooo hard to watch – but – in a way it’s a blessing that he doesn’t view his life right now with the same outlook that we do. His body and mind are a defensive mechanism so he is living life the best he can and honestly appreciates the little perks that each day brings – a call from you, a window visit, etc. He treasures the small things, and loves them with his total being. Maybe we should all take notice and TREASURE the small things in life. Love you Fritz …

    1. Thanks for all you do for Dad, sis! You are definitely one of the “little (I’d aruge “Big”) perks” that brighten his day. And yes, good lesson for all of us to treasure the small things in life. Look forward to seeing you soon, I’ve promised Dad I’ll be there the first week after they release him.

  9. This struck a cord with me. I feel your pain! After being a caretaker for my in-laws for 5 years, we had to put them in a facility. My husbands father died early this year in a nursing home and we couldn’t even get in to say good bye before he died, despite my pleading. I will always believe the cruel isolation for months played a role in his rapid decline. Then my mother, who lives out of state, got sick with aggressive cancer. I did get to see her once just before she entered Hospice and was “locked down”. After that they only allowed one designated person in to see her, so at least my sister that lived nearby was able to be with her at the end, even though I could not go back and visit. Now my mother-in-law is still stuck in a Memory Care unit – finally we can see her once a week for 30 minutes because they put an eight foot table in the vestibule area (closed off from the rest of the building and residents), so she sits at one end and we sit at the other! (With masks on, and the door open if it is not too cold) It means so much, and we were able to bring her gifts for Christmas and watch her open them! Surely your Dad’s place could do something similar. Fight for it! We also have been allowed to take her to Doctor visits, so you can bet she is up to date on teeth cleaning and eye exams!!! Taking her to see medical professionals has allowed us to be with her occasionally for a longer visits and we even take her to her favorite fast food place (drive-through of course) before we return her to the facility. When was the last time your Dad had an eye exam or his teeth or dentures checked?
    Perhaps you could arrange that 🙂

    1. Mary, sorry about striking that chord, afraid many of us have been dealing with the same pain this year, yours sounds particularly difficult. My Dad has been able to travel to medical exams, and my sister has had the joy of taking him. Glad you were able to enjoy a bit of Christmas with your mother-in-law, I’m sure that meant the world to her.

  10. Maybe it’s time we all bring them home??? It’s a question I ask myself every day. Is it my selfishness that doesn’t bring Mama home??!! It would be sooooo hard – but I could. Should I – it would be hard on my whole family. And I have a new grand baby. I want to have her home. Should we???? It’s so hard!!! I could but I don’t. If it were me; I would tell my kids I’m ok – this is a light momentary affliction. But I hate to let mama be a prisoner; day after day! Is it for righteousness sake – or is the enemy winning??? I don’t know.

    1. I’m sure many kids are asking that same question these days, and it’s only a question each of us can answer based on our unique circumstances. We had my mother-in-law live with us for 4 years with Alzheimer’s, I’d seriously consider do the same for my Dad if he didn’t live 700 miles away, with no desire to leave his home of 60 years. Can’t say that I blame him, so I’m doing my best to be patient and looking forward to seeing him as soon as they “put him on parole”.

  11. Sorry to hear of your Dad’s current circumstance along with many other seniors confined to assisted living facilities or similar living arrangements. I lost my Dad at 92 in 2018 to Alzheimer’s after 5 years in assisted living, and while it was painful and even hurtful when he finally reached the point where he didn’t recognize me any longer, I was at least able to see him almost daily and know that he was doing ok and ensure he had everything he needed. I’ve mentioned a number of times to my brothers that while I miss Dad dearly, I’m grateful he was spared having to live his final months/days in assisted living during the pandemic. I will keep your father and all other seniors, or otherwise in-firmed, and their families in my thoughts and prayers.

    1. “…while I miss Dad dearly, I’m grateful he was spared having to live his final months/days in assisted living during the pandemic.”

      We have the exact same thoughts about my mother-in-law, who passed away in Sept 2018 with Alzheimer’s. A blessing, indeed. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

  12. Well Fritz, I don’t normally start the morning with a tear in my eye, but you brought me more than one. A friend whose 90-something mother died the week before Christmas shared similar thoughts with me and told me my wife and I were lucky to not have our parents here suffering through this. While in general I would not agree (my wife DEFINITELY would not), at this specific time perhaps I would. So sorry for your father and so many others like him. I have to agree with Todd on the long-term view, but its darn hard today! Blessings to all.

  13. Fritz I’m so sorry to hear about your fathers situation and can only imagine how you feel. I was just thinking about this the other day. My mother was in a nursing home and passed before Covid hit. It was bad enough as it was but not being to visit her for nine months would have driven me crazy. Hopefully things will get better soon and you can see him again. Hang in there.

    ps now I know the secret to you writing so well!

  14. This is not a solution for all cases, but would some kind of online connection be possible with your father?

    My father-in-law lives on his own in a condo in Florida, a thousand miles from the rest of the family. Since March he has had groceries delivered and only leaves his condo occasionally to walk across his yard and pick up his mail from the mailbox. He connected to my wife via text messages and occasional calls, but felt very isolated. He would talk of “a wasted year.” We encouraged him to try Zoom, but he was resistant at first, I think partly from lack of familiarity and partly from not wanting to be on camera.

    After a while he finally relented and gave it a try. We have since set up a Zoom call with my father-in-law, including his grown grandchildren, at least once a week. We all had Thanksgiving together over Zoom. During our annual tradition of going around the (this year virtual) table and each saying what we are thankful for, my father-in-law simply said “Zoom.”

    An online video connection certainly can’t replace being together in person, but can create a feeling of connection and communication that is better than isolation. It does require some level of technological wherewithal, so isn’t always an option.

    1. Great idea, Daryl. Video calls can be almost as good as in-person and they are so much better than just a phone call because you can see their expressions. It’s almost like being together.

    2. Daryl, we’ve tried, but my Dad’s unable to “operate” Zoom on his end, so the only way to do it is to beg an employee in the facility to let him use their phone after they connect to the Zoom call. We’ve done it, but unfortunately it’s not convenient. Add to that the fact that the facility has had quite a few on their staff leave over the past few months, and those who remain are over-worked, and it’s not a viable option for regular communication.

  15. Thank you for sharing your excellent story, Fritz. Similar to your Dad, my adult special needs daughter lives in a quarantined care facility. My wife and I gave her our most recent hugs and kisses back in mid-March, just hours before new and uncertain COVID restrictions took effect. We thought the mandatory quarantine would be quite temporary. Instead, it has become the normal way of life, for her protection and safety. Our contact has been primarily maintained with weekly, staff-assisted video calls (in addition to a few socially distant in-person visits in the summer, when our Governor temporarily ease the visitation policy). Since my daughter is non-verbal and limited in her mental capabilities, it is very hard for us to know what she understands about our abrupt physical absence from her during the past 9-month quarantine period. The professional staff at her home is taking excellent care of our daughter and keeping her preoccupied with activities, and so we like to believe that she is generally content. Even so, it is very emotionally difficult for parents and guardians of special needs people who live in dependent care facilities, isolated away from their families and loved ones, with no end in sight of the quarantine period and COVID pandemic. Your story and poem about your Dad resonates with me. In closing, I’d like to share with you and your readers my personal coronavirus lessons of 2020: 1) The small and carefree things that I took for granted only months ago, I now fondly remember and treasure today; 2) Don’t take things, people, freedoms and normalcy for granted; 3) Treasure quality family time at home with my wife, children, and elderly parents; 4) Be conscious of the fragility of good health; 5) Be conscious of the brevity of human life; 6) Adapt and get use to the “new normal”; 7) Stay positive. Test negative; 8) Trust in God, one day at a time.

  16. Covid has limited my mom’s life. Before Covid she drove her car, grocery shopped, went to the Y, and attended senior seminars at the library. Now we drive her to her doctors, help her pay her bills, buy her groceries, pick up her prescriptions, and make her frozen dinners. We don’t know what she does all day in her apartment. She seems happy but is confused. We are watching her closely and helping her because she wants to remain independent in her apartment.

    1. kg, we went through the same “confusion” with my mother-in-law before moving her into our house. Fortunately, she was agreeable to the move after years of living independently in her apartment. It’s a reality of aging that many of us Baby Boomers are facing, I wish you the best as things unfold. On the positive side, at least she was able to stay independent through the worst of the pandemic. Hang in there.

  17. Fritz, thank you for telling this story, it’s sad and widespread. My parents, although still living in their home, have pretty much been stuck there for 9 months as well. Not nearly as difficult as a senior facility, but it’s been tough on them as well not seeing their large family. I’m hopeful that we’re now seeing the light at the end of a long tunnel and hope we’re all able to get back to ‘normal’ soon.

    The information I’m about to post may not be something you want on your blog, if so, I understand. You may still find it interesting and helpful. But the word needs to get out about the medicine ivermectin. This is the same medicine given to animals for various parasite infections – you’ve probably heard of it being used in dogs. But it’s also been used safely for decades in billions of humans around the globe.

    A group of doctors, some based in Houston, have been promoting this treatment for COVID for many weeks, even to the point of speaking in front of Congress earlier this month. It works as a prophylactic and as treatment at all phases of the disease. They have a website with tons of information about it and the controlled clinical trials that prove it’s effectiveness around the globe. There are currently 45 more trials ongoing, and 3 will have results published in the coming 6 weeks. After these results are published, more than 3000 people will have participated in various controlled trials which thus far, show this medicine to be a very powerful preventative and treatment to COVID. I hope that our NIH and CDC will then recommend it’s use. It’s already an approved treatment for other ailments by the FDA. It’s cheap and readily available. This medicine has the potential to stop this pandemic, yet no one is listening. Here is a link to the information, much of it peer reviewed now.

    https://covid19criticalcare.com/

    1. Mike, thanks for sharing the news about “ivermectin”, first I’d heard of it. Odd how many things the media seems to be “missing” in their reporting of late. I hope the treatment becomes another option and brings us closer to the end of this pandemic…

      1. I’ve heard of it in the reading I’ve done on COVID, so it’s not completely missing. Perhaps the big HCQ coverage has caused them to be more conservative about treatments that haven’t yet had published study results.

  18. My father is one of your dad’s breakfast buddies. As far as I know none of them are meeting these days for a meal. For me one of the hardest things has been watching them react to this danger. I had always considered all of them fearless. An illusion on my part, but it was one I preferred to keep.

    Also hard to know they were sacrificing favorite activities. Their time to sacrifice should have long since passed.

    1. He is, indeed, Jeff. Sad to hear they’ve discontinued the long-held tradition of those Hillsdale breakfasts. I’ve been honored to be able to attend a few, great to listen to those old guys banter! Let’s hope they’re able to resume the grand tradition sometime in 2021.

  19. Thank you, Fritz, for putting in writing what so many of us are feeling and experiencing. My mother-in-law has been in a 160-resident assisted-living facility, near us, for over 3 years. Fortunately, they’ve had zero COVID cases. However, the lock downs have made her, and other residents, essential prisoners. And she’s a widow so she was all alone in her unit.

    Because her mental health was declining we decided to move her into our home. That’s not an option for everybody, but we work from home which makes it a lot easier. Plus, her long-term care policy has very rich home care benefits. We have a home health aide here at least 7 hours every day to do all of the hardest caregiving tasks.

    I’ve heard from friends in the home care industry that A LOT of families are moving their relatives out of facilities and into their homes. This is a very difficult time for everyone, especially our silent, suffering seniors.

    1. Scott, I’ve told many people that, as bad as I feel about my Dad’s situation, at least he has his wife in his “cell” with him. My heart absolutely breaks for the widows/widowers who are truly all alone. Glad to hear you were able to move her into your home, and she has that “rich” LTC policy (hmmm…wonder who the expert was who put that in place? Wink). Thanks for your active involvement in the comments today, I’m sure you’ve experienced a lot of situations with your clients this year.

  20. Thank you for the thought provoking post. It makes me think of Atul Gawande’s book, Being Mortal in which he discusses so many things that seem to be done to keep older family members safe make them unhappy and actually recognizing their mortality and allowing them to enjoy their lives even though it may be “risky” makes a huge difference in the happiness of their final years

  21. Thank you Fritz; I shared the poem. My father has very similarly been shut away in Indiana. Fortunately my sister has medical power-of-attorney permission and is able to visit him regularly. As for my family, with the vaccine due to be provided him the end of January, we plan to wait a bit longer to visit. Fortunately my sister was able to break dad out at Thanksgiving for a nice private get-together at her home. They have had a handful of cases of the virus at dad’s assisted living center, at which time they were restricted to their rooms for 2 weeks.

    Yet in the end, I completely agree with the sentiment “… I don’t think it’s fair for any of us to assume what their best interest …”

    One thing we were able to do for him which I hope is helpful, was to get him a Grace Digital wifi radio for Christmas. He wasn’t able to get radio reception, but his nursing home has a strong wifi signal (my sister has worked remotely from there upon occasion). We were able to easily connect and tune in both local stations, and also stations with the included I Heart Radio app. Now he can listen to Moody’s (Christian), news, old radio shows, with an easy press of a button. At age 96, the easier the better.

    Take care everyone.

  22. Thank you for sharing this heartbreaking tragedy. Tears and prayers for you and your family and many blessings in 2021.

  23. This struck a chord with me. My father has likewise been a prisoner due to COVID, but his facility has been keeping residents in their rooms most of the time since July when positive cases started cropping up there.

    They ha a brief period this fall when there were no new positive cases, and my sister was able to visit with him outside, socially distanced.

    I’m actually glad my dad has dementia because his sense of time is warped, and he’s unaware of how long it’s been like this.

  24. Fritz, you have written so many people’s story. Including my mom. She was in “room quarantine” for months at the beginning. She passed in October. I’m so grateful I was able to see and hug her near the end. I will miss her, but I’m so glad she is no longer lonely and scared. Jesus has her in his loving arms now… with no pain and no tears.

    Thanks for the post. It’s hard to understand the situation from the outside. Even those of us dealing with it directly probably can’t understand from our loved ones perspective.

    Thanks for all you do, Fritz.

  25. Too true. Very similar experience with elderly relatives. The resulting cognitive decline of the initial assisted-living lockdown was so severe for my mother-in-law that the daughters choose homecare instead. Very demanding needs and limited their own “bubble” for defense against contagion. Another relative is still isolated. It so reminds me of Thomas Sowell’s rule, “There are no solutions, only trade-offs.” Like you, Fritz, I’m not sure about the COVID-defense versus social connections trade-offs. But it’s essential we recognize the damages incurred. And have some empathy for all. Not just those who agree with the choices with which we agree.

    I appreciate the love, respect, and admiration — and yes — even the pain, that shines through your article about your father’s life. Including the last year in quarantine. Choices are so-much harder when there are no good choices. Only uncertainty and trade-offs.

    1. “…And have some empathy for all. Not just those who agree with the choices with which we agree.”

      Sounds like the perfect New Year’s resolution. I hope my post helped achieve that goal in some small way. Thanks for your kind words.

  26. I have been fortunate as my mother’s independent living facility has been more open than many places. When COVID first hit and we did not understand it well they went on complete lockdown. However, they have managed it well – no cases of residents to date and only two staff (which were both from outside and contained). I have been able to see my mom – at first, just outside on a porch. More recently she was able to leave and come have Christmas with us – if only the day – but I know many did not get to be with family.

  27. Sorry about your Dad Fritz, my Mom is in a similar situation. She’s only been out of her apartment a few times all year to go to doctors appointments and those events had me really nervous. Even though I beg her not to watch too much TV, it’s the only thing that keeps her company. And we all know that the so-called news channels specialize in intentionally scaring people. She’s a classic victim of that crap.

    Best to you and your Dad and happy new year.

  28. No words can describe this feeling after reading your post and poem except that I am heartbroken.
    Those in serious lockdown quarantine, whether self-inflicted or directed by the facilities, have adapted faster to change than those that ignore the war we are fighting. We certainly mourn the loss of better, healthier and carefree, in person social times.
    I’ll take the loss of these eleven months of experiences over the forever-loss of friends and family to those that have succumbed from the pandemic.
    There’s two sets of survivors fighting against the Sars-Cov-2 virus and they are on both sides of the glass. Thank goodness the glass is transparent.
    I do hope another trip to Michigan is in your near term plans.

    1. “There’s two sets of survivors fighting against the Sars-Cov-2 virus and they are on both sides of the glass. Thank goodness the glass is transparent.”

      Insightful comment, I even read it aloud to my wife. Thanks for adding value to the discussion.

  29. Hi Fritz it is all very sad. I work in aged care and see the heartbreak from both sides. It is especially sad when someone is dying and family are not allowed to visit. Staff do the best they can but it is no substitute for family members. I have noticed the decline in my mothers mental health (she lives in a unit alone)and hastened cognitive decline as her world is a lot smaller now with regular community activities cancelled and limited social interactions. Lets hope we get on top of the virus next year and things improve.

  30. Very sorry to hear about your Father, Fritz. A tough and heartbreaking read for sure. I do appreciate the poem.

    My father is very sick and has not left his small house this year except for a brief outing in Feb. I am extremely fortunate that he happens to live close by and I get to see him most days of the week and he has my mom as well. Even so, I am experiencing many of the same emotions you express here. It’s been very difficult.

    Thank you for the article and here’s hoping you can resume in-person visits and outings with your dad in 2021.

  31. Fritz, great content as always that hits home. Thoughts and prayers to your family and father and the rest of us that we’re all out of this mess soon.

  32. Locking someone in their room is so obviously wrong and inhumane – why not a walk outside socially distanced? I know you don’t want to assign blame, but it sounds like administration covering for themselves at the expense of those they’re supposed to be caring for. Unbelievable that we give them that power, unchallenged.

  33. This post made me emotional. I am 8500 miles away from my father. I have not met him in person in 4 years. My parents were supposed to come to California earlier this year. But they could not come because of pandemic. I am really looking for a reunite in 2021.

    My relationship with my father is different. I love him a lot. But I never hugged him. May be it is because of my culture back in India. I touch his feet to get blessing but this time when I meet him, I will give him a hug.

  34. Fritz,
    This one is soul crushing. I feel your pain. My mother was in assisted living since June 2019. She was local to us, so we visited her several times per week. We visited her just a day or two before our annual month long trip to Florida in late February 2020. By the time we arrived in Florida, COVID was becoming daily news, so we decided to cut our trip short by two weeks and came home early to immediate lock downs by my Mom’s assisted care facility. It was June 2010 before we were allowed one window visit. One day after our first window visit, the facility locked back down due to a single COVID case. We talked every couple of days by phone, but her Alzheimer’s worsened by the week in confinement. By September we had only seen her twice via window visits, due to lock down after lock down due to new cases. The facility was great, and they were fantastic with mom. I can’t say enough good things about her facility, so please don’t get me wrong, but the confinement and lack of physical contact was killing her mind day by day. By October she was diagnosed with a second bout of lung cancer. She went on hospice for two weeks before we lost her in late October. It sounds selfish even as I type it, but I thank God we got to see her and hold her during those last two weeks. She could barely speak and was only a shell of the woman we had seen just a couple of months earlier. COVID is a horrible disease, as is Alzheimer’s, and Cancer. But the confinement was the worst of all of them. I know most will (and maybe should) error on the side of caution with COVID, but please don’t miss the last hugs and kisses. You will regret missing them if you do. As for me, if I were personally in my mom’s situation, I would choose to live every day with my loved ones. Hugs and kisses every day even if I were to go early. Best wishes for you and your dad.

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