Mom in the Time of COVID-19

Mom took a fall at her apartment last Sunday. Ended up at the ER, small fracture on left clavicle, she was admitted for observation. She’ll be released to rehab tomorrow, we think. After that, not sure where or what yet, but we have greased the machine to get her into long term nursing care. She knows she needs it, and she wants it. She was lucky with this fall. She’s in great spirits, looks good, everybody loves her there, she thrives in medical environments because she’s a nurse. So everything is great and glittery and glamorous. That same Sunday, at the same hospital, the first Hudson Valley case of COVID-19 was examined and released to self quarantine.

Sunday was a beautiful day, warm, sunny, the ER personnel were almost languid, the place was not busy at all, almost silent, very still and peaceful. I’ve never seen an Emergency Room in that state. No masks. Monday there were masks, and an electric tingling charging everything in each corner of the hospital. No questions or signs or advanced security at the entrance. Tuesday that changed and before you entered you had to follow signs and lines, and then answer 3 questions correctly. Have you traveled out of the country in the last 30 days? Have you been exposed to COVID-19? Do you have a fever, shortness of breath? Everybody answers ‘No,’ and then you just go in.

I don’t kiss Mom, and I explain why. She’s having problems with memory so I explain a lot, always, and this one is hard, “I may not be able to visit you soon, here, or even at the Nursing home, I don’t know, but we’ll always be in touch on the phone.” The Baptist Home where we think she is going, and her top choice, is not allowing visitors, and I am happy about that. I hope that relatives that are screened will be able to. I’ll wear a space suit if I have to. Since October, and Mom’s lung collapse and cancer, there’s been this pulling down the blankets and sheets of denial and really looking at stuff. I don’t like it. I don’t like any of it, and I don’t have to.

It feels really familiar. Besides mom and COVID-19, as a gay man I remember pulling those covers down in the 80s and not liking it. None of this is a nice comfy reality to be examining. But I’m grateful my mommy is happy, and being helped all the time, and is safe for now, and is still laughing. Wash your hands and handle, take care of yourselves, like you don’t want to kill your mother.

Paul V. Leone is an exquisite writer and a devoted son. Dottie is beyond description, but Paul tries to honor her for the remarkable mother she has been. One can only hope for such glory.