A Life In Quarantine

An innocent man has been living a life in quarantine for 9 months.
That man is my Father.
Today, a story that breaks my heart to write.
But, a story that must be told.

The man has been held in quarantine for 9 months. He's my Father. He's living A Life In Quarantine.
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This is the story of a great man, enduring his latter years through a life in quarantine. We understand the health concerns, and want what’s best for my Father.  That is not the point of this article.  This story is about the realities of living a life in quarantine.  For 9 months.
His story is not unique, it’s currently being lived by thousands of members from his “Greatest Generation”.  I understand the logic, and I know folks will argue what’s best.  That argument is not my point, though I’ve spent more time thinking about it than you can imagine.  This isn’t a story about COVID, nor is it a debate about what’s the “right” thing to do.  
This is a story of some of its invisible victims. 
This is a story of their endurance. 
Hidden heroes, struggling to survive each day.  Locked away, seldom seen. Lonely. Alone.
Their story seldom told. 
In some small way, I hope these words have an impact.  He deserves that.  They all deserve that.
During this typically joyful holiday season, we must not forget.
We must never forget.

A Life In Quarantine

He’s lived a great life. 
A college professor in a small town, a great career, impacting thousands of students who still bear his imprint decades later. He doesn’t teach anymore, his recognition as “Professor Of The Year” a distant memory.  While once a great orator, he doesn’t engage in the deep conversations we’ve treasured together over the years.
Some things become more difficult with time.
He’s a published author, his history of the college a testament to his wisdom and craftsmanship with the written word. If you enjoy reading my words, you have him to thank.  He shared his love of writing with his son, and his son continues on with that family tradition today.
He doesn’t craft those words anymore. It’s been over a year since he’s accessed his computer.  He no longer writes, and the only thing he reads is his daily newspaper. It grieves me that he no longer mentions my most recent blog post during our weekly phone calls.  We used to look forward to chatting about my work, but now our talk doesn’t go as deep.   
Some things become more difficult with time.
I planned on visiting him every quarter in 2020.  My visit in March happened, coincidently, one week before his assisted living facility was locked down due to COVID.  I’ll never regret stopping by that ice cream stand, in spite of the brisk Spring weather, to surprise him and his wife with an unplanned dessert after our dinner out.
ice cream before a life in quarantine
Our last dessert together. March 7, 2020
We haven’t gone out for a meal together in the 9 months since.  We’ve never hugged.  We’ve never shaken each other’s hand.  I visited him through his window during our RV trip through Michigan in August, but it wasn’t the same.  No contact, no connection.  Just hollow words through a hollow screen, our anonymous faces hidden behind those mandatory masks.
9 Months without an embrace from his children.
Some things become more difficult with time. 

Life Behind Closed Doors

An assisted living facility across town had some positive tests, so they took the precaution of issuing (yet another) “room quarantine” for all of the residents.  
Imagine being quarantined within the confines of an assisted living facility for 9 months, only to find out one December morning you’re now not allowed to leave your room.  That’s my Dad’s life and the life of countless others like him.   
They shut him in his room a few weeks before Christmas. 
He hasn’t come out since.
Merry Christmas?  Not this year.

A word of thanks is due to all of the folks on the “Front Line”, including the many who are working in nursing homes.  YOU are my Father’s only physical connection to the outside world, and I appreciate what you do every day more than words can convey.  Thank you for your sacrifice, thank you for your care.  Knowing you’re “in there” with my Dad is one of the few things keeping me sane.  A heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you. 
Finally, I know many will argue that the lockdown is “in their best interest”.  If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I don’t want to get into that debate, and I don’t think it’s fair for any of us to assume what their best interest is (I won’t be getting into that debate in the comments, so please don’t try)

The point of this post is to sympathize, if only for a few short minutes, for those living their lives in quarantine. 
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Life in Quarantine.
Every Day.
For 9 months.
Some things become more difficult with time. 

I don’t have the words to end this post. The point is not to assign blame. This virus has turned the world against itself, the entire situation is horrific beyond words.  This is simply a story of my Dad’s life. 
A Life that’s become more difficult with time. 
To my Father, and the thousands of others who share your fate this holiday season, I offer my condolences. I offer my prayers. I offer my love. You are not alone. You’re on our minds, you’re on our hearts.
To you, a simple poem.
A poem so we’ll always remember.

my dad life in quarantine
A Life In Quarantine
In Spring, he missed the flowers.
In Summer, he missed the grass.
In Fall, the leaves fell soulless.
It’s winter, this year’s almost past.
No hugs has he gotten from family,
No breakfast or lunch with his pals,
He’s living locked down in his bedroom,
I ask, is it really living at all?
His life’s been a powerful story,
A family, a job all done well.
But now, after years of great living,
He’s fading away in his cell.
His bright light on the hill has been fading,
A dim light on a lonely bath wall,
His friends still respect and admire him,
But they’ve no ability to see him at all.
This holiday season, I beg you,
Forget them not, but recall,
Their courage, their patience, their power.
Their final days, spent living in Hell.

If you’re interested in sharing the poem with a loved one, a graphic image is below.  Feel free to save it to your phone or computer, or paste it on your Facebook page.  Tell them you love them.  Let them know they’re in your thoughts and prayers this holiday season.  Use it to say “Thank You” to those on the Front Lines, caring for those who are shut-in.


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A Life In Quarantine