On March 8, 2020, I’m sitting in a hotel in Williamsburg, Virginia painting, waiting for my husband to call me to come pick him up from work.
My 26-year-old son calls asking what I think about this coronavirus. He lives in Charlotte. I say, “Do as you were taught. Wash your hands often. Don’t touch your face. Cover your cough or sneeze. Open doors with your shirttail then wash it before wearing it again.” A week later, he’s laid off because the restaurant where he worked closed. I tell him to immediately sign up for unemployment. Getting the extra $600 he receives weekly has served him well. He hasn’t skipped a beat. He has been able to keep up on his bills. Much to my dismay, scolding and pleading, he has gone to the beach twice, in Georgia and Charleston. Matt can’t come to our house like he’d like because he’s been around too many people and places. I worry about him.
My husband and I were supposed to take an anniversary trip to New Orleans the fourth week in March. I had to convince him to cancel. We had a staycation. The next week, he was told if he refused to travel he would be furloughed. His employer cut his pay 20 percent. And sent him to Michigan just as cases soared there. He’s worked every week since. Flying almost every other week, which has changed drastically, he says. Coming back home has also been altered. We now have a “safety” routine. He calls to let me know when he will arrive. I lay down a tarp with a laundry basket and chair on it. He removes his clothing from his body and luggage. He takes them in, puts them in the washer and himself in the shower. I clean his cases, shoes and pocket items while wearing a mask and gloves. He currently sleeps in another room. He hasn’t received hazard pay even though he’s asked. I worry about him.
My daughter works for a long-term nursing facility. To date, she’s had nine COVID tests, all negative. I thank God. At this time, she has to have them biweekly. They closed the doors early from visitors, yet have had 134 cases, and sadly, 31 deaths. Forty-nine were employees; eighty-five were residents. She is 25-years-old. It has been devastating to her. Not being able to sleep. Some days not being able to make it to her car before sobbing. Working 12+ hours while wearing two masks and a face shield. Also assuming part of her coworker’s tasks because she was diagnosed with breast cancer and will be out of work for months. She somehow has figured out a way to cope with it all … somewhat. She wrote her employers on behalf of herself and her coworkers to receive hazard pay. They each got a one-time $300 check. I worry about her.
My mother-in-law just turned 93. Lives one street over. I’ve been helping watch out for her. Taking her food. Getting her groceries. Helping her in her strawberry patch and asparagus garden. Before this pandemic she was very active. Still drives, bowled twice a week, church activities two or more times a week, eating out at least twice a week and a weekly hair appointment. Not to mention mowing her yard and tending the garden. She is showing signs of dementia. At first, she didn’t believe me when I told her the YMCA, church and beauty parlor were all closed. She insisted she was going; that didn’t happen. She asks people to come to the house to do things. At one point she got depressed. And quite contrary, her words not mine, but I agreed. I decided it best to let her daughter, other son and nephew take over. They’ve had their hands full. As of almost five weeks ago, she’s back to church, getting her hair fixed, picking up takeout and going to the grocery store. All of which has been very much discouraged. She is relentless. I worry about her.
As for me, I’ve worked more in my yard than in years past. That’s saying a lot. I have an acre in garden and yard. Besides helping my mother-in-law at her house, I’ve also kept up her lake property. I’ve continued my duties volunteering with Meals on Wheels, coordinating the driver’s schedule and delivering. Sadly, one of our clients died from COVID-19 the first week in April. I’ve kept in contact with shut-ins, sick folks and friends by way of phone and taking food I’ve cooked. I try to be uplifting for them and have listened for many hours to their concerns. I’ve cooked meals at Grace Episcopal for the less fortunate. Cooked and delivered food to Open Hands. Walked in the peaceful protest for BLM. I’ve gone on a kayaking excursion, hiked, painted and go out as often as possible on the pontoon.
It’s now July 8, 2020. It’s been a long year thus far. It’s taken a toll on me. As well as everyone else I know in some way or another. I have stayed very close to God many hours of my days and nights. I am thankful He is always there for me to lean on. Sleep does not come easy because I worry about those I love and those I’ve never met.
Alisa Johnson is a native of Lexington, NC along with her supporting husband, Keith. Passionate about parenting, volunteering, recycling, gardening, painting and above all serving God.
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