Yes, Mom, I’m here.
My mother is 90 years old, one of the elderly isolated in nursing homes, unable to hug and kiss her children, alone because of the pandemic.
And this will be our first Christmas apart.
She lived with us for 25 years. But after her stroke, she’d forget to take her medication. And when she entered the nursing home in March, we thought we would be able to see her and take her home for visits.
But the COVID lockdowns came immediately. I haven’t given her a hug or a kiss since then.
I know we’re not alone. There are people all over the world who wish they could touch and hug the ones they love. And many have lost their parents to COVID in nursing homes.
“But here, we don’t talk about missing everyone so much,” she told me last week. “Our thoughts are with our children and grandchildren. Whining and crying just won’t do. You just don’t mention it because others might feel sad.
“We just walk around the halls with our walkers, we talk about the weather, the food, but we don’t discuss what we miss outside,” she said. “I suppose prison inmates are like this.
“I look at the whole picture, how it’s been difficult, yes, but how we’re accepting, how everyone is accepting it, to reach the goal.”
She isn’t a little old Greek Yia-Yia with an accent. Yes, she speaks fluent Greek, but she was born and raised in the small Canadian town of Guelph, Ontario, where she developed her stiff upper lip and her love of English literature.
When my brothers and I were young, she taught us the poem “In Flanders Fields” by Col. John McCrae, a son of Guelph, who served in the Canadian Army during World War I. She taught us to sing “God Save the Queen,” for Queen Elizabeth.