I AM PALMER
I am Palmer is a series of articles written by parishioners at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church about their experiences in the time of COVID-19. In this series, we are hearing from medical professionals, educators, students, public health experts, parents of school-age children and others who are finding ways to cope and thrive in our challenging times.
A year ago I moved into Brookdale Senior Living. I did not want to sell my house and move into a small space, but time and circumstances dictated the necessity. It was the best thing I could have done, and I feel it was God’s will that I acted when I did.
For one thing, I got here before the Stay-at-Home directive went into force. That gave me time to get acquainted with people and to feel that I belong to this space. It put me among people of similar needs and interests. We are all in this together and share coping skills and daily news, wearing masks and keeping social distance, of course.
For months we could not have guests, which meant we couldn’t see family except through internet connections. It was seriously painful when you are accustomed to visiting regularly with children and grandchildren, and we’re grateful that this restriction is beginning to ease. It has also been difficult getting groceries and other items because we are not allowed to leave except for doctor visits. We’ve learned to traverse the complicated paths of internet outlets such as Favor, Instacart, Amazon, and others, sometimes with interesting, frustrating, and even amusing results. Please give me a call if you’d like to hear my banana story!
On the other hand, this place has beautiful gardens in five courtyards, where—weather permitting—we can walk, sit and read, or chat with others. There are covered hallways, which are open to the outside so that walking is protected yet still allowing fresh air and scenery for interest. A sixth courtyard holds the swimming pool, which is closed during the pandemic, but that courtyard features a large patio with rocking chairs and provides an entrance into an activity room where three or four people at a time can work on a puzzle or do other crafts or brain teasers. Our food is brought directly to our rooms and staff plan as many activities as possible for staying at home including In-the-Room Bingo and Wednesday afternoon happy hour with a visiting bar cart.
To be honest, especially when it is hot and unpleasant to be outside, four walls can get very boring and claustrophobic unless one can read, do creative work, or get out periodically for socializing. All of us are elderly, sometimes grumpy or crotchety, and require patience and sympathy. When my own mood and patience are wearing thin, I try to take time to meditate, rest, and recharge with God’s help so that I can go out and face the day with renewed energy and optimism.
The fantastic efforts of Palmer’s clergy and staff make life much more happy, busy and interesting for me. It is wonderful that I can see the mass in all its beauty and know that all my church family is worshipping together; and beyond us across the miles in churches everywhere the familiar words ring out. And multiple Zoom meetings have brought us together for chatting and news and reflection, just as if we were able to attend daily services or gatherings in Parish Hall. Webinars, including one on grief and stress, have been very helpful. These efforts keep my soul refreshed. Sundays and Wednesdays are my favorite days now.
So although I am not in the actual church building, my former happy place, the internet brings that happy place to me through all the devoted and extraordinary work of our fabulous church workers. My thanks go up to God daily for giving us inspired clergy and staff members.