My in-laws celebrated their wedding anniversary last week. They have been together more than 60 years. I have not seen them for more than a month. They are seniors and I figured it just was not worth the risk. My wife, Sue, and I decided that we needed to go to their house on this occasion and carefully hang out with them for a little while. Like many, we have a close family.
Normally this occasion would be filled with hugs and probably a meal with all 20 of the family sitting around a table. Nothing like that was happening on this night. There was only the two of them and the two of us. We all sat in different corners of the room. When their phone rang next to me, I got up and made a 10 foot space for my mother-in-law to pass by to answer the call. The whole thing was very unusual. We were all feeling kind of weird and uncomfortable.
I’m sure a lot of folks have similar stories lately. Our worlds have been turned upside down in a lot of different ways. There is a sense of being uneasy all the time. The TV doesn’t help much because all we see is bad news. We wonder if this thing will ever end.
Over the years, people who I admire have often reminded me that we don’t take enough time to reflect on where we are now and what got us here. During this uncertain time, I have been doing that a lot lately. I have found that I focus too much on the present and the challenge of the day. I tend to feel like what’s on my plate is the worst thing ever and that the answer is not jumping out at me. There is fear that enters into the picture and makes the whole thing worse. Anyone can relate to this with your own experiences. Think of something challenging that has happened to you in the past and as you think back to that time, how did it turn out? In some cases, nothing happened at all and all that worry was wasted effort. Looking back, the cloud of fear made the whole situation worse than it really needed to be.
This is a difficult time for all of us. I will probably count this challenge as one of the top 5 in my lifetime. The point I am making is that there are at least 4 other times that rate more of a challenge for me than this one. I got through those other 4 and I am still here. Those challenges made me a stronger person and more able to handle this one. I am reminded of a saying that our former HR Director, Deb Gates always used. She would often say “It is what it is”. There is a lot of truth in those 5 words. Some things are beyond our control and at that point we have a choice. Do we rise to the occasion or do we worry and hide? If you know me at all, you know my choice.
They say it’s always darkest right before dawn. I hope my thoughts and experiences are helpful as we move through the middle of this situation and begin to come down the other side. All of the Maplewood staff are truly heroes and have my highest respect. What I am seeing all around me each day tells me that the choice our staff has made in this challenge is the same as mine. They have my highest gratitude as we continue to boldly move ahead and take care of our residents and take care of each other.