Hey Mom, sorry we haven’t been to see you in a while. We’re not allowed to visit you right now because of coronavirus, which has turned the whole world topsy-turvy.
At first they scaled back visitors where you live, but then decided for prudency’s sake that only medically essential people should be allowed. It’s a cautious approach and makes good sense. No one wants to put any of the staff or residents at greater risk. We’re glad you’re in good hands.
We can call to check on you, but phoning you directly isn’t an option because you’re rarely in your room and we don’t want to disturb your roommate. FaceTime and Skype just aren’t your kind of thing.
I wonder if you understand why no one’s been to see you, or if you will notice.
I imagine that one day kind of runs into the next, without any rhyme or reason. Maybe it seems like we were there just yesterday, or perhaps it feels like ages have gone by.
It’s hard for us to understand how time works for you now. That knowledge eludes us; perhaps we are fretting over something that’s not causing you any grief.
I hope so, anyway. I hope you are not missing us.
Every time we visited you were always so glad to see us, but I suspect the memory of those visits went out the door when we did.
Alzheimer’s is far from a blessing, but one thing it is doing right now (at least from what I’ve read) is it’s likely cushioning you from anxiety about the pandemic that is keeping some of us housebound or at least is severely curtailing our activities.
I’m sure if you were aware of COVID-19, you’d be a jangle of nerves.
You always were a first-class worrier.
We’re not allowed to visit you right now because of coronavirus, which has turned the whole world topsy-turvy.
If this had happened years ago, when you were still at home and in command of your own kitchen, I bet the first thing you’d think to do would be to bake something — bread, raisin buns, partridgeberry muffins — to give to someone else. Because that’s what you’re like; your first instinct is always to share, to care, to comfort.
When I saw you last week — not knowing then that I would not be able to return anytime soon — I brought you a small, foil-wrapped marshmallow rabbit. It was a foolhardy thing to do given that you’re a diabetic, but I couldn’t resist. They always remind me of Dad.
He loved chocolate-coated marshmallows in every shape and season: Santas, Christmas trees, bunnies, witches, Valentine’s hearts, whatever. Any excuse to eat them. I thought it would be like a little talisman from him to me to you.
I pulled it out of my pocket and gave it to you, and you harrumphed — but in a good-natured way. “Is that my present?” you asked.
At that moment, it was your present — and by that I mean you were there, in the present tense, with me. And it was lovely.
I wonder how you’re doing now; if it feels like you’re in a strange insular world where all the faces are friendly but you don’t really know them. I hope you feel secure.
Last week when I was there and we were waiting for the elevator, you greeted all the ladies who got off with their wheelchairs and walkers with a warm smile, and you reached out to touch each one on the arm with your hand, like you were bestowing some kind of benediction.
It amazes me how warm and loving you are after all you’ve been through in your life — both parents gone when you were 24 years old, siblings scattered, kids to raise, and worries enough of your own to last a lifetime.
And yet there you are, still smiling, still loving.
I want you to know we’re OK, Mom. And that we’re thinking of you.
So I’ll say goodbye for now. Your favourite crooner, Perry Como, can sing us out:
If the hands of time
Were hands that I could hold,
I’d keep them warm and in my hands
They’d not turn cold.
Pam Frampton is The Telegram’s managing editor. Email email@example.com. Twitter: pam_frampton