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I come from a big family, I have 7 siblings and each one has a family of their own. My mother passed away a year and a half ago and my father has been left alone to deal with things that he never encountered before; making his own coffee, paying bills and everyday chores “that just got done”. Yes, my mother made it look so easy; my father came home from a long day of work and the house was just taken care of. When my mother developed cancer, she already had a plan to make my fathers life easier. My mother decided that moving to an independent housing facility would allow my father to socialize after she passed away. Within eight months of living there, my mother passed away.
Covid-19 came and sure enough 16 people in the facility, including 2 neighbors of my father, developed this deadly virus, especially within their demographic. My siblings talk with my father every day, often multiple times during the day and this Monday nobody heard from him. Finally, we got in touch with the front desk and they said that they would send someone to check on him. They found him lying on the floor, conscious and seemingly fine, but unable to get off the floor due to his own lack of strength. The paramedics came, checked him out, and stated that all vital signs were ok. For some reason, there was no bathmat and my father slipped on the tile floor in the bathroom. I hoped that it was a onetime experience but sure enough, one day later, he was on the ground unable to get up.
I had only one thought, I must get to my father and help him, however, I am 13 hours away by car and I have diabetes. Do I have the right to go and put my family at risk? Do I have the right to put myself in danger? What would my father do if I developed this virus while visiting him? I could not think clearly, however, I decided I was going. By 11:30 in the morning I had rented a car and by 12:00 I was on my way. In that 30 minutes, I arranged with the facility to allow me in after I promised not to leave my father’s room, I packed some clothes and my wife packed a few snacks. After an exceedingly long, one- stop drive, I arrived at the facility both looking forward to seeing my father and trepidation about getting sick. I got to the front desk, exhausted and scared, and the security guard said to me I am aware of your arrival. Before you can go in, however, we need to take your temperature. The guard approached me, placed the thermometer near my head, and it read “error”. Let me try it on your wrist, again error. “Do not move” he said, we have a backup thermometer, needless to say I got the same result. He said, “I know your Dad is waiting for you, just head on up”. With both apprehension and appreciation, I headed up to my father’s room. Although I arrived very late, my father was awake to greet me.
There were many scary moments and I experienced firsthand how the transmission of this virus can happen in these confines. Meals are delivered to individual rooms; these meals have been prepped and cooked, cut into individual servings, wrapped and put onto disposable trays, and then delivered. When the trays are deposited outside the individual rooms, the server knocks on the individual doors. I opened the door to retrieve my father’s food and just then the lady with corona opened her door and there was a cross breeze, I thought I was doomed. I have since returned and I am glad that I went, unfortunately, I do not feel I completed my mission as my father did not return home with me. Yesterday, 5 days later, my father was once again found on the floor … he says that he is fine, but I know I need to get back before something bad happens.
Life is short, decisions are difficult, however, ultimately, we must make choices that we think will better ourselves, better our community and better the world that we live in.