The new Covid normal is so many things that are brand new. Frankly, most of the new normal isn’t all that normal or all that great.
The New Covid Normal: texting about important topics
I’m now texting with my dad about fairly serious topics. We’ve really started to communicate via text the past year or so as my mom’s health has deteriorated. I’m not a complete curmudgeon when it comes to texting. I am a curmudgeon when it comes to texting about serious topics though. I prefer face to face conversation. Reading verbal cues, body language, emotions. It’s similar to having a primary sense removed from my communication arsenal. Yet, it’s what we have, so we made it work as best as we’re able to do.
My dad and I agreed a few weeks ago that I would go over to his place on a Tuesday morning and join him for a morning walk to a local laboratory for some of his routine blood work. It seemed safer to walk to the lab than have his independent living facility drive him to the lab. Less people involved, minimizing his exposure to anyone else.
ER visits without family
I received a message from him around 9PM Monday evening that he had gone for a walk to the local laboratory earlier in the day, fallen, and ended up in the hospital. He’d been released from the hospital, returned to his independent living facility, and sent out a selfie. He looked pretty banged up. He’d somehow knocked himself out, rode in an ambulance, hung out in the Emergency Room, gotten stitched up, and gotten a ride back to the independent living facility.
While the message was upsetting, I was thinking along the lines of “boys will be boys”. I was grateful that he hadn’t hurt himself worse. It could have been far, far worse.
The New Covid Normal: Crime and Punishment
I saw him the next morning outside the lab and he looked quite poor. Beat up physically, beat down mentally. We chatted for a few minutes and I picked his brain about how and where the accident occurred. The specific answers of what happened and where it happened were elusive. The independent living facility slapped him with fourteen day “in room” quarantine due to his possible exposure to Covid at the hospital. My sister, Lisa, inquired at the hospital about why they didn’t call anyone to inform them about the accident. The response? “You couldn’t have come into the hospital anyway.”
The New Covid Normal: Window visits with my mom
I left my dad and then made my way across town to try out a “window visit” with my mom.
I’ve spoken with my mom each week on the phone now that we’ve been back in the US. This was my first “face to face” with her since January. I wasn’t that nervous going into the meeting. We’ve had our rough and difficult conversations during the past six months. Indeed we have… As Selina Meyer would say, “You can have a bite of that shit biscuit.”
My mom was confused about why I was outside a window and why she was on the inside. I really didn’t try to explain the virus situation to her beyond saying that there was a flu and we needed to keep from catching it. She was sitting on a chair staring at me out the window. I was seated on a garden chair, staring at my own reflection in the window. Perhaps she was staring at her own reflection too… So we chatted for about a half hour. It wasn’t a bad conversation, it was just odd. So close to her, yet so far away.
A nurse stopped me in the parking lot to thank me for visiting my mom. Imagine it. With all the virus stuff going on and a nurse expressed gratitude to me for visiting my family member. I thanked her for taking care of my mom and the other residents.
The New Covid Normal: Window visits with my dad
I’ve had the same experience with my dad this past month. We’ve driven over to his independent living facility on Sundays and we chat with him through the exterior door window panes. So close, yet so far away. I followed up with the staff at his facility to see if we could go into the facilities inner courtyard and chat with him through his room window after he started his in room quarantine. No luck. We’ll try again in two weeks after the room quarantine is complete. I’m not upset with the independent facility, not at all. I want them to protect the residents, even if that means my dad is confined to his room.
Noelle and I discussed what to do if the virus makes it into my dad’s facility. We agreed that we’ll yank him out and bring him back to his old house or take him to my sister’s house. I discussed it briefly with my dad and he joked about if he should have a “go bag” bag packed and ready by his front door.
The New Covid Normal: Cataloging possessions
We’ve been spending our time here at my parents old house cataloging all the items that they no longer want or need. When we left Colorado in January I really didn’t expect to be back here for this portion of the “shutting down” transition. I thought that my siblings would be steering the ship for this portion of the transition. I thought wrong. Here we are.
We’re making a list of the items that still remain in the house and sharing it with our family. We take a picture of each item, assign it a number, and then put the images into a folder. We’ve shared the folder online with family members and have given them a week to decide if they want anything from the list. At the moment we’re up to item 653. In a ideal world we’d all be here to go through this transition together. We’re not though, so I’m trying to share as much as possible with the siblings who aren’t here in person.
Last week we started listing items on Craig’s list and Ebay. Trying to hold an online estate sale during a pandemic! That’s a new one to add to my CV.
I do enjoy it when I find a tag, or a note, on a piece of furniture, or behind a picture. It’s a tiny connection to the past.
I have found the sorting, inventory, cataloging to be emotionally draining. There’s a note here or there that my mom tucked into a item. She shared who gave the item to her, or the items lineage, or just her thoughts on that given day. These can be emotional landmines…
The New Covid Normal: Nailed it
I was groaning last week as we sorted through my dad’s assortment of loose nuts, bolts, screws, washers and nails. Prior to selling our own house a few years ago I took my entire nut/bolt/washer/nail/miscellaneous collection and dropped it in the trash. Time to start fresh! After Noelle’s dad passed away I found that he had left me a small collection of nuts, bolts, washers and nails! Guess he did get the last laugh on that one!
I was really tickled when I found some old school nails in my dad’s collection. It’s great to find treasures like these. I suspect that they came from my mom’s dad, Ross, who happened to be a carpenter. Of all the items I’ll take with me from my parent’s house, these may be the highest on my treasured list. I’ll use them on our next house. I like that idea very much.
Where to from here?
I’m still somewhat optimistic about hiking the remainder of the PCT starting at the end of July. I’m also eyeballing the CDT for next year. Lots of real research needed on our end. Soon we need to start backpacking to prepare ourselves for the Sierra’s.
We’re starting to look at the possibility of heading south into Central and South America via the Shaggin’ Wagon later this year. There’s also the option of moving towards Canada and then into Alaska. I’d love to visit Nova Scotia too. We have a lot of options on the table, but we’re really not sure which way the wind is blowing. Like everyone else, we’re kind of in limbo at the moment.