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We have all been horrified to see recent videos of police brutality against blacks. Yet we know black citizens have been humiliated and put down in numerous ways for years.  Why have we Americans tolerated this for so long? As an older white woman who grew up in the South, I will speak only for myself, but perhaps my thoughts will resonate with some of you as well.

First, without any direct experience of being humiliated because of my race, it has been difficult for me to realize the extent of pain and sorrow endured by our black citizens. They were freed over a hundred years ago, so they’ve had the same opportunities as the rest of us, right?

It’s true, ever since the Emancipation Proclamation, African Americans have been free to pursue their dreams, but I recognize now how their opportunities have been limited. For decades, Jim Crow laws and segregation discriminated against them, keeping them “in their place.” Many have had to struggle to overcome an underfunded, inferior education in order to earn a decent living. Poverty still pervades way too many lives, and many of those who have not been mentored or encouraged by family members have fallen into crime.

Lack of resources has caused them to have inadequate housing and poor nutrition, and they have more than their share of health issues with less ability to seek timely, quality health care. Also, their ability to select progressive leaders has often been stymied by having more difficult access to voting.

These are all systemic conditions which must be addressed now and in the months and years to come. However, I believe a new, more empathetic attitude toward our fellow citizens is also called for. African Americans have suffered many indignities that we must recognize now and seek to abolish. Reminders of servitude have caused resentment and sadness, and there is no reason to continue to ignore that pain. I am thankful that many states, towns, and institutions are rethinking their use of the Confederate flag and removing other symbols that glorify that period of our history.

I’m also thankful that citizens of all races and ages are now coming together to demand that every person in this country be treated fairly and with dignity. We can no longer live surrounded by obnoxious racism. A brighter future is at hand, and we must not let it slip away.

 

A New Low

I’ve tried to stay out of the political arena in most of my blog posts, but today I am speaking out. Our President’s actions yesterday evening marked a new low in this country. Unbelievably, the President of the United States ordered the use of force by armed police, the National Guard, and U.S. military troops against peaceful American protesters to clear a pathway for him to walk across the street for a photo opportunity in front of a church, with him holding up a Bible no less. This was outrageous!

While he stood in the White House Rose Garden and talked about his desire to support peaceful protests, tear gas and rubber bullets rained down on hundreds of peaceful citizens outside. Running and crying, they scattered down the street. Then the President with his entourage paraded across the empty avenue and stood in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church where he held up a Bible as cameras rolled.

What was he trying to portray? Strength? Power? That he was on God’s side?

The Bible calls for compassion for those who are oppressed and for establishing social justice in society. The Biblical prophets strongly admonished those in positions of authority to obey the word of the Lord.

Micah 6:8 says, “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

I saw no justice, no kindness, and certainly no humility in what occurred last night! Our President must be held accountable for his actions.

On April 14, my last entry talked about Robin and me being tested for COVID-19. The next day, our test results came back negative. Great news! Unfortunately, two days later, our lives took a sudden turn for the worse, and this time it had nothing to do with the virus.

Friday morning, I stepped out of bed, the room spun around, my feet slipped out from under me, and I slammed down on my left side against a recliner chair next to our bedroom dresser. I suffered through a painful day and night at home, and around noon the next day, I was transported by ambulance to Williamson Medical Center.

In the ER, a CAT scan revealed I had four broken ribs, some internal bleeding, and a slightly punctured lung, and I spent the next three days in the hospital. Now, four weeks later, I’m happy to say my lung is fine, my ribs are healing well, and I am almost pain-free. For that I am extremely thankful!

What is it like to suffer an injury during this time of social distancing and fear of COVID-19? There are definite plusses and minuses.

During those first difficult hours, our daughter Sharon, a physical therapist now working remotely online with her pediatric patients, was able to rearrange her schedule, don a mask, and enter our villa. She washed her hands, maintained social distancing, and took charge. Her presence calmed both Robin and me, and she called my primary care physician who prescribed a pain killer.

Everyone hoped my pain could be diminished so I wouldn’t need to go to an emergency room where we knew coronavirus patients were being served. However, my pain continued and even increased. The next day there was no other choice.

If we hadn’t been in the midst of a pandemic, I’m sure I would have gone to the hospital much sooner. On the other hand, if Sharon had not been working remotely, she wouldn’t have been able to stay with Robin while I was in the hospital.

The paramedics on the ambulance wore all their protective gear—gowns, gloves, helmets, and masks. Neither Robin nor Sharon could come with me to the hospital—no visitors allowed—and it was hard for them to see me go without them. However, I was in good hands. In the emergency room and during my stay, all my nurses, nurse techs, and doctors were kind and attentive. I think they knew how their patients felt, being there with no loved ones around them. Every caregiver was friendly, wore a mask, and took extra precautions with cleanliness.

Sharon was able to continue working remotely from our villa during the next week, and she helped Robin bring me home on Tuesday. Then she lived with us the rest of that week. What a blessing that was!

Our son, Marty, is a paramedic who teaches paramedics at a community college in east Tennessee. Due to the pandemic, he, too, is now working remotely from home, teaching online classes. Marty was able to get tested for the virus, and he tested negative, so he came to stay with us the second week of my convalescence. He set up his “office” in our guest bedroom, and his being with us was another blessing we might not have had if we hadn’t been in a pandemic.

Today, Robin and I are doing well. We still do not leave our villa except to take our daily walks around the campus or to go through the drive-through at our pharmacy. Sharon and her husband are buying groceries for us every week, and we order some of our meals from across the street.

Recently, The Fountains relaxed their restrictions on residents remaining in their apartments. They can now participate in limited small group activities, and Robin and I have joined several friends to play Rummikub up in the Game Room. We must still have our temperatures taken every time we enter the building, and we must all wear our masks, but it’s fun to be together again.

Due to the extreme danger of Covid-19 to senior citizens and those with underlying conditions, The Fountains of Franklin went into a mandated lockdown on Wednesday, March 11, to keep us safe. However, almost three weeks later, on Tuesday, March 31, an “urgent message” appeared in my email—one of our staff members had tested positive for coronavirus!

The staff member was asymptomatic, so I’m still not sure why he or she was tested, unless exposed to someone in the community who had tested positive. However, the Tennessee Department of Health took over the situation, and the infected staff member was quarantined and monitored. Robin Crowell, our facility director, instituted a more stringent “stay in your apartment” order to all in assisted living and memory care, and all group activities were suspended, including dining together. Only a few essential staff members remained on duty, the kitchen was closed, and all meals were catered in. A professional cleaning crew came in to deep clean the facility.

At that time, the Dept. of Health sent workers out to test the other staff members and the residents. Actually, a resident I talked with later said only her temperature had been taken. She wasn’t sure if others had been given a test. We residents in the villas had not been inside the assisted living building since March 11, so we were considered “not exposed” and were not visited by any health department workers.

Finally, this past Thursday, we received another email saying that the Dept. of Health would be coming again to actually administer nasal swab tests for Covid-19 to all residents. Permission would need to be given by each resident or their Power of Attorney.

I called the office to see if residents in the villas could be included, and they told me yes. So Robin and I received the test on Friday, April 10. Two nurses administered our tests early in the evening after all testing across the street had been completed.

A long nasal swab was deeply inserted into each nostril and curved down in the back, twirled slightly, and withdrawn. It wasn’t too uncomfortable, but it did make our eyes water a little. There was supposed to be a 24-hour turnaround on getting the results, but that was from the time the tests reached the lab.

Today, our director received the results and after reviewing all of them, she will pass them along.

Have any of you been tested?  If so, I hope you are doing well.

 

Parade of Love

This morning, we residents here at The Fountains of Franklin had a wonderful treat. One of our volunteers, Amy Holmes, had rallied families in her neighborhood to come out and cheer all her friends who have been in lonely isolation for nearly three weeks now. At 10 a.m., Amy’s neighbors formed a long parade, and with horns honking loudly,  twenty or more decorated cars moved slowly around the assisted living building past the villas.

Robin and I stood on our porch, waving and clapping as the cars passed. They made three noisy laps around the campus, crepe paper streamers blowing from many antennas. Cleverly using a symbol of our times, one car sported a roll of toilet paper stuck on the back fin and draped down to the bumper. Homemade signs on many cars read: “Hang in there.” “We love you.” “Praying for you.” A loud rendition of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” came from one vehicle.

Through open windows, adults, teens, and children of all ages waved and shouted greetings. Many youngsters stood tall through skylights, waving flags and signs. Two little girls, dressed in princess dresses and crowns, waved and blew kisses. One little boy held a huge stuffed elephant out the skylight. A happy toddler sat in his mother’s lap, blowing the horn.

What an outpouring of love from all these families! This will be a day we will all remember.

In the midst of this coronavirus scare, many grocery stores are now opening at earlier hours to accommodate only senior citizens. This morning, we ventured out to see what shopping at Walmart at 6 a.m. might be like. Here’s what we discovered:

There are a lot more senior citizens in Franklin than we thought! We arrived ten minutes before the store opened its doors, and the parking lot was already half full. A large group of people were standing in line, waiting to get in. Most were keeping a safe distance from one another, but it still looked a little crowded. Many in line were wearing gloves and masks.

We waited in our car for the first wave to move through, and then we entered. Disinfectant spray and paper towels were provided to wipe down our shopping cart, so we took advantage of that.

We needed to drop off a prescription at the pharmacy, and it was open at 6 a.m. too. That was a wonderful service! We didn’t have to wait in line there at all, so we left our prescription and began our regular shopping. Later, we returned to pick up the prescription with no problem.

As you might imagine, the toilet paper aisle was a busy place! The first wave of shoppers had already moved through, but we still found a number of packages on the shelves. Our daughter had not found any at Kroger last week and had shared some of her precious rolls from home with us, so today we were happy to pick up a large Angel Soft 24-roll package we could share with her this time. A small sign told us each customer was limited to only one package so there would be enough for other customers, and we were happy to abide by that.

Other items seemed to be in stock this morning too. We were able to buy milk, bread, eggs, and all the other items on our list. That was great!

It did take a while to check out, though. From 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., only two checkout lines were open, so we waited on four people ahead of us, each with large shopping carts full of items. At 7 a.m. another checker arrived and opened up a third line. This was Walmart’s first day to provide this special early morning service, so maybe next week they will arrange to have more checkers come in at 6 a.m.

We thanked every grocery store stocker and supplier and clerk we saw this morning. Each was working so hard to help us senior citizens.

So far, Robin and I are doing well. Our children shopped for us last week, but we needed many more items today and didn’t want to burden them. As soon as we unloaded our bags from the car and put everything away, we diligently washed our hands. Then we unloaded the dishwasher, put the coffee on, and sat down to enjoy our breakfast—right at our usual time. Ha!

Today’s mandate for “social distancing” is confusing. Do we really need to socially distance ourselves from one another? My answer to that is a resounding “NO!”

Of course, we do need to distance ourselves physically from one another as much as possible. Collectively and individually, we must do whatever we can to slow down the spread of the coronavirus so our health care systems will be able to handle the thousands of acute cases that are coming. But “social distancing” should be avoided. No one should feel alone.

Take time today to reach out to your neighbors and friends and family. How are they doing? What do they need? Can younger people who are less likely to become sick run errands for the elderly? What can each of us do to brighten someone’s day?

I hope this post finds you healthy and happy now and still able to remain “socially” active. Be well, dear friends.

 

 

Petri Dish

With the coronavirus spreading across our country now, we folks in the “elderly” and/or “compromised” categories are at greater risk. That means we need to be more careful about where we go and with whom we interact.

Yesterday, we received an email from The Fountains director, which she forwarded from the parent company to all residents in their 27 facilities across Tennessee and Kentucky.  As of today, March 11, The Fountains is now on lockdown until further notice. Only necessary personnel are allowed to come and go at the assisted living building, and staff members must be screened every time they enter the facility. We in the independent living villas across the street are now banned from participating in any of their activities, and residents inside will be unable to leave except for doctors’ appointments.

Normally, Robin and I attend exercise classes each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, and we also enjoy other activities with our friends across the street. However, we do understand why the company is taking a proactive stance to protect their vulnerable clients. In his notice, the company CEO talked about the real possibility of a rapid spread within a senior living facility if the virus gets a foothold. “It’s like a petri dish,” he said. Sadly, the news from Washington State confirms that vivid description.

Today, our doorbell rang, and Michael, one of the younger employees at The Fountains, stood there with a stack of lunch and dinner menus in his hand. “We’re checking with all of you in the villas to see if you’d like us to bring you a lunch or dinner today. We’ll be doing that now that none of you can come across the street for any meals.”

Robin and I don’t eat across the street very often, but today we checked the menu and we ordered two lunches. Each villa’s monthly rental fee includes 20 meals, if we would like to take advantage of that. Our next door neighbor goes over for lunch quite often, so I was relieved to see The Fountains staff had thought to take care of all us “villa people” too.

Hopefully, this dangerous virus can soon be overcome, but in the meantime, stay safe out there, dear friends, wherever you are.

 

The Right Thing

During the President’s impeachment trial, I’ve been trying to put myself in the shoes of our Tennessee senators. Having been elected to carry out President Trump’s policies, would I have had the courage to stand up to intense pressure from my Republican colleagues to disregard the charges of misconduct against my President? Would I have even admitted that misdeeds might have been done? Would I have asked to see pertinent documents or hear from witnesses who could have revealed the truth to me and my colleagues?

Most of us have experienced a few times in our lives when we’ve had to stand for truth in spite of pressure to look the other way. As a school administrator, whenever I questioned a directive from my supervisor or superintendent, I knew my speaking up could cause a problem for me or could label me a “trouble maker.” But, even so, I never believed my job was in jeopardy or that my family was threatened.

That is why Senator Mitt Romney’s vote yesterday to convict the President of abuse of power is so impressive. He was under tremendous political pressure to go along with his colleagues to find the President not guilty. However, he was able to summon the courage to follow his conscience, knowing he and his family would undergo the persecution he is now experiencing. His allegiance to truth, to the U.S. Constitution, and to God, to whom he had sworn an oath to do “impartial justice,” won out over his allegiance to his President.

I think about a young boy who joins a gang and follows a leader whose toughness he admires. For a while, he goes along with whatever the gang leader says for him to do, mostly from loyalty, but also from fear. One day, his leader pressures a weaker friend of the boy’s who is not in the gang. The leader demands that the friend do him a favor, go after one of the leader’s rivals to do him harm. If the friend doesn’t do the favor, then he and his family will be harmed. What does the young boy do now? Will he stand up for his friend against his leader’s abuse?

When young boys or U.S. Senators are confronted with choices such as these, surely we must stand in awe if they can overcome their fears to do the right thing!

Yesterday, Robin and I experienced one of those “first in our lifetime” events we always like to remember and talk about later. Steve and Tonya, our older son and daughter-in-law, had invited us to join them and another couple for the Mississippi State vs. University of Louisville game at the Music City Bowl in Nashville, so we took them up on their offer.

We knew the excursion might be a bit strenuous for us, navigating our way through crowds of fans, making our way through security, locating our seats in the stadium, and braving cold, windy weather with temps in the 40’s. But the forecast had predicted a sunny day, Steve had told us they’d drive us into Nashville and home again, and Sharon and Mike, our daughter and son-in-law, had loaned us their Mississippi State clothing and gear, so we were excited to go.

After lunch, I drove Robin and me to Steve’s.  From there, Tonya drove us in our car into Nashville to meet Steve and our eleven-year-old granddaughter, Lily Grace, at a place close to where Steve had taken her for a therapy appointment. Sam, our nine-year-old grandson, stayed at home with a favorite sitter, and he seemed happy about that, too, so the afternoon looked promising.

We met Steve and Lily Grace and discovered he’d called an Uber driver to pick us all up at that location to take us to the stadium. Steve said he’d forgotten to get a parking permit when he ordered the tickets, but later, we were all thankful to have Uber do the driving. The traffic was terrible, streets near the stadium were blocked off, and police, with security cameras on almost every corner, watched to make sure no one tried to make a prohibited left turn. It took almost an hour for even our skillful driver to wind his way through the maze.

Finally, he dropped us off at the spot designated for Uber passengers, and before leaving, he advised us where to walk to after the game to have the best chance of quickly getting another Uber driver to take us back to our cars.

We walked a short distance to the huge Titans Stadium, stood in line to pass through security, then found our way to elevators that would carry us up to the seventh tier. Yes, we knew we would be way up there, but even those “cheap seats” were $60 each, including the tax.

After exiting the elevator, we followed the signs to find our section and row, emerged into the open stadium, and I stared up at a steep column of concrete stairs leading to the top. It looked like we’d be scaling the side of a mountain! However, Robin and I held onto safety hand rails all the way up, then inched our way down a narrow ledge to our fold-down seats.

We sat on the east side of the stadium, so the sun in the west hit us directly in the face. The wind was brisk, too, but we donned our sunglasses, caps, and scarves and settled in. Way, way down on the field, the players looked like miniature moving dots of white and red. With the stadium’s shadow covering the field, I could barely see the Louisville players in their dark-colored uniforms, so during the first quarter, I watched most of the action on the jumbotrons. Finally, the sun sank behind the Nashville skyline, the stadium lights came on, and I could see the game much better. However, our team began to falter, and that wasn’t much fun to watch.

Before halftime, Steve and his friend, made their way down to the concession stands and returned with a huge pretzel for Lily Grace, popcorn and drinks for several others, and bottles of water for Robin and me. At halftime, we enjoyed the Mississippi State Band’s excellent performance, and Steve reminisced about his days in the drum line. Wait, was that really almost forty years ago!  Yikes!  : )

Then Lily Grace, Robin, and I ventured back down the mountain to the restrooms. Ah, warmth at last! I hated to go back up! By the end of the third quarter, though, our team had fallen farther and farther behind, so we all gathered our gear to leave.

Outside the gates, we still needed to walk to where we could call another driver, so we struck out on foot for downtown. The city’s lights in the distance were beautiful, but a cold wind whipped us as we marched up and over the long pedestrian bridge across the Cumberland River. We must have hiked well over a mile before we came to a street where hotels on either side seemed to offer good places for Uber pickups, and Tonya, Lily Grace, Robin and I ducked into a Starbucks to stay warm while Steve punched up Uber on his phone and stood by the curb.

Thankfully, he waited only a few minutes, the five of us crammed into another car, and the friendly driver delivered us to where our two cars were parked. From there, Steve drove Robin and me in our car, Tonya and Lily Grace followed in their car, and we headed to Cheddar’s, one of our favorite restaurants, for supper. The friends who’d attended the game with us met us there, and we all had a fun time together again, relaxing and enjoying our meal in that nice, warm, cozy environment. Before taking us home, Steve drove us into downtown Franklin so we could see all the beautiful Christmas lights too. A perfect ending to another exciting “first time” adventure!

Happy New Year, everyone!  May 2020 bring you many happy, new adventures.