I have received a huge gift during this painful time in our country. I fervently asked for and was granted permission to go visit my daughter and her family in Lakewood, which is about a 45-minute drive from Kendal. I said that on my return, I would self-quarantine in my room for two weeks, and I shall. That part will be way less fun than what I am experiencing right now at my grandson’s home. He turned six months old on Tuesday and I arrived here Saturday evening, just before his bedtime. But my stay here has been worth any small sacrifice when I go back to my own home.
His reaction to my coming in and sitting down in his kitchen was priceless. He was in a front facing baby carrier on my daughter and then his dad walked in after bringing in my things. There I was, the first new person inside of Max’s house for many weeks. He knows my voice and face somewhat from our daily FaceTime connections. I always make a silly buzzing trumpet sound when I see his face on the screen. He was staring at me with his mouth wide open. I sounded my “trumpet” and he looked up at his mom, then over to his dad, then back at me and grinned. Then his mouth opened up again in a little round “O” of pure astonishment. He happily stood on my lap for a bit before fussing for his bedtime. It was a deep draught of joyful reconnection all around.
For another week or so, I happily live in a baby dominated household. Dad works from home as does mom when she can grab a few coherent moments, based largely on how much sleep she got the night before. I am up by the time I hear Max’s morning baby babbling and have mostly learned to sleep through any of his nighttime wake ups. The best part of being a grandma is that your grandchild is not your total responsibility (unless, of course, you are a main caretaker as well.) At this stage his schedule consists of two awake high-octane hours followed by naps of indeterminate lengths until his bedtime. Then we share an all adult dinner and evening lasting a few hours before I turn in.
Two weeks ago, I was asked to join Kendal’s New Normal Planning Committee as a representative for the Stephen’s Care Center. The SCC includes sixty-seven residents in the Assisted Living area, the rehabilitation area, and the Jameson House for residents with more advanced cognitive impairment. Our whole committee for all of Kendal also consists of new and old residents, and a variety of staff members. As the governor of Ohio opens up nursing homes, retirement communities, and businesses, we are given new opportunities to follow suit. Having had zero cases of infection on our campus of three hundred and forty or so residents, with hundreds of staff coming and going while working in all areas of running such an institution, that is a pretty remarkable testament to how quickly we took precautions to be safe. We want to remain safe as we open up to off campus visitors, using the pool, or safely making music together.
This committee has met by zoom twice a week since I joined and we have fielded hundreds of emails asking for information, clarification, and expressing great frustration from the community as old protocols are replaced, sometimes changing on a daily basis. And we are a community of deeply caring people. A quote from our daily newsletter distributed to all residents stated that today “approximately 100 residents and staff gathered six feet apart in a silent protest, standing quietly around… (our large circular driveway) for five minutes. More gathered near their workplaces. Some carried posters with phrases like “Racism Kills,” “Justice,”, and “Black and White: ONE United States.” They joined Kendal affiliates across the system, (in many states across the country) standing together in peace related to our shared values. As an organization, Kendal at Oberlin supports peace and unity for all.”
A day of gifts and protests.