One of the biggest impacts of the pandemic is not being able to see our aging parents. Whether they are in a nursing home, or still living in their homes, the level of caution they must take is much greater than the rest of the population.
The pandemic canceled a family trip for my dad’s 80th birthday in the spring. And subsequent plans to visit were also scrapped out of an abundance of caution in favor of safety. But this past weekend, my husband and I made the drive to the Philadelphia area for what would be our first visit with my dad and stepmother in a year.
Their boundaries were clear—masks and shields inside, with most visits outside on the patio, sitting a good fifteen feet apart. My dad even bought an outdoor heater for the occasion knowing that I’m not a big fan of cold weather. We ordered takeout and shared several good meals and lots of laughs.
It was an unusual visit, for sure, but in a way it was much more engaging. There were no distractions—no dressing up or planning dinners at restaurants. No conflicts with other things we wanted or needed to do. Although, my husband and I did take a brief walk on a beautiful fall day in Valley Forge Park, which is not far from my dad’s house. But mostly, we just spent time with my dad and stepmother, talking and relaxing. It was good for the soul.
The pandemic has isolated everyone, but no one more profoundly than senior citizens who must safeguard their health closely because they are at the highest risk. I’m so glad we figured out a way to visit my parents during this challenging time. It’s a reminder that social distance doesn’t have to mean emotional distance.
We are all figuring out new ways to show our love without hugs—instead with our words and actions. It’s not easy, but we can do this.