A Harsh Reality

My mom has worked in medicine for longer than I have been alive, but now, her passion for helping people has become a significant risk. I am so proud of her bravery and resilience during these times, but I am also terrified for my 79-year-old grandmother, terrified for my mom, and terrified for my entire family.

For roughly the first seven years of my life, it was just my mom and I living together. However, my maternal grandparents lived in the neighborhood across the street, and I went there after school most days until my mom got off of work (if it was a Thursday, I would spend the night). After my grandfather passed away, my grandmother moved in with us and joined our tightly-knit clan of two.

Now, the time when she wasn’t living with us seems like forever ago, and I can’t even imagine my life without her. She enjoys a good mystery novel, she loves to bake, and she has read every issue of The Bolles Bugle since I joined the staff during my freshman year.

Every year during the spring, my grandmother’s three older sisters (ages 82, 87 and 88) all fly down from Michigan and stay with us for around three weeks. Their days are spent playing Euchre (a card game commonly played in the north), playing more Euchre, playing even more Euchre (after almost five years, I finally learned how to play it while quarantined), talking about old friends/family members, and eating ice cream every night (because they have to get in their calcium). Like any siblings, they have their fun and usually     Euchre-related spats. This year, their visit happened to coalign with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since they are all in the “high risk” category with underlying medical conditions, the pandemic that has struck the world could easily cost them their lives. They arrived when there were only fifty cases in the United States, but now that there are over 370,397 (as of press time), they can’t go home to Michigan as planned. It is a 1000 mile trip to drive one way, and it is too risky to fly them back. As my mom said, “[flying on a plane] could take out Grandma K., Grandma B., and Grandma C., and we don’t want that to happen or to explain that to everybody’s families. It is safer to have them stay here [in Jacksonville with us].”

Everything is uncertain during these times, and we can only do so much.

It is hard to imagine my mom being locked in a room for a 14-day self-quarantine because she was exposed because of her job. It is hard to imagine what might happen if she didn’t have a job due to coronavirus— as the only breadwinner in our family, it would take a turn for the worst. It is hard to imagine what is to come from all of this.

Everything is uncertain during these times, and we can only do so much.”

All-day my mom makes sure that the proper precautions are taken as not to bring the virus home. At work, she wears the recommended safety gear and is always disinfecting surfaces or washing her hands. As soon as she gets into the laundry room from the garage, her clothes are in the washing machine set to steam, and she is headed for a shower. My mom’s car (the steering wheel, door handles, buttons, etc,) has been wiped down with Lysol disinfecting wipes countless times, and nobody has left the house in over ten days except her. We don’t bring packages inside the house anymore; all boxes are opened outside and immediately put in the recycling bin, just in case. Everyone is washing their hands constantly, but the underlying worry is still there.

Keeping four elderly ladies, one teenager, and herself protected is a daunting task for my mom. We all do everything that we can, but unspoken questions still remain… is it enough? What is going to happen? The truth is: we don’t know when the worst will be over, if our friends and family will get sick, or if our friends and family will die. There is nothing more we can do than wash our hands, stay at home (I cannot stress this enough), and keep hoping for a healthier, recovered future.