barrow of plenty

In three days, our neighbours in the United States, will celebrate their Thanksgiving Day, which again, nudges me to be grateful that I have so many blessings.

This past October in Canada, it was comforting for My Love and me to observe Thanksgiving, as always, when the leaves were turning, and the fresh harvest was just coming in. Typically, it was an exciting time.

Traditionally, Thanksgiving was a day to share, but aside from My Love’s advancing, late stage, Alzheimer’s disease, COVID made our day of celebration quite different, most nontraditional, lonely, and somewhat empty.

green field and trees

Fortunately, what should have been a familiar experience, was buoyed up and strengthened by the lingering sunshine as it intensified the rich colours of the foliage remaining on the trees. Those colours always gave us a warm, cozy feeling, a sunny feeling to appreciate and hold onto through the cloudy, fall days we knew would follow.

We could not share our meal with friends or extended family, not beyond our bubble. We could not be with nor hug others, as we wished. It was just the two of us, together. Yet, we were grateful that our hunger for socializing could be satisfied with family Zoom sessions, Facetime, or phone calls, providing some connection.

our bubble

We made the best of what was becoming a tragic situation because we did not want to become part of the escalating number of virus cases, some of whom never recovered.  To that end, for over seven months we had been learning to live in isolation, distancing ourselves from each other, keeping our faces covered with masks, and frequently washing our hands, hoping to do our part in containing the spread of this aggressive disease among global citizens. We felt grateful that most of us followed the evolving policies put forth to keep us well and safe.

And all the while, we watched our lives transforming before us into a lifestyle yet unknown to us. The businesses, stores and restaurants were reduced to ‘allowable services,’ many closing forever. Our shopping habits went from personal touch to cyber picking with a click…clothes, groceries, meals switched to a ‘to go’ or home-delivery basis. We were grateful when these community members were still able to find ways to carry on services that we have long taken for granted. We only hope there will be ways they will find to reinvent themselves or their businesses, to achieve the yet-unimaginable – to reinsert themselves into our yet-undefined new economy and lifestyle.

puzzle pieces

We are thankful we still have the opportunity to recreate our world, that we still have our skills and our knowledge. But it feels like someone shook the box and turned double-sided pieces of a puzzle out onto the table and we don’t recognize the picture we are trying to reassemble…yet, we are grateful we can still use our skills and knowledge to find new ways of putting the puzzles of our intermingled communities back together.   

Having family in both the US and Canada, I have enjoyed the United States Thanksgiving, as well. It always arrives in late November. Their holiday seems almost to be an overture to the exhaustive holiday season that lasts through gift shopping, festive parties, writing cards to friends, wrapping presents, caroling nights, Santa parades, and ending with the New Year football games.

But this year, those in the US will also be experiencing unfamiliar, lonely hours as they begin that long ‘winter holiday’ in uncharted waters brought on by the exploding cases of COVID in their country. This week will show the strength of their world to be resilient, and like those in Canada, they will be looking for new ways of celebrating, finding new ways to communicate, socialize and revitalize their communities within their new lifestyle.

fall scene

As we ALL make our way through the remainder of 2020, I hope we will all be able to look at the good we have, the wonderful people we have been blessed to meet and know, the good experiences we have had together, and will continue to share our good fortune. I know for me, being grateful for what we have will carry me forward into the most unknown future I have ever faced.

My wish is that My Love and I will carry that same gratefulness from our thanksgiving celebrations over into our lives moving forward.  I am thankful I have a long list of reasons to be happy this Thanksgiving.

what are you grateful for
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I am grateful I can wish a “very Happy Thanksgiving” to those who are celebrating!

Gratefulness © 2020 Judith Allen Shone

Fall trees Image by Couleur from Pixabay
Kitchen Image by Louise Dav from Pixabay

‘Social Life’ During COVID

‘Social Life’ During COVID

During the Covid-19 period, we, like others, have had far fewer physical social connections than ever before. Beginning here March 2020 and lasting through the rest of the year, My Love and I have been our own bubble of two and see few other people regularly.

no walking

In response to the virus, and the isolation it demanded of us so we would not become part of any chain that might spread the disease, our social life took a dramatic turn, to the point we are grateful for the few people who will be remembered as our ‘social life’ as they crossed our path.

No more exercise classes or art classes with our Alzheimer Society friends. No casual lunches with former associates. No dances, nor walks along the lake or in the park. It has not been just My Love’s Alzheimer’s disease that has slowed us down or reduced our socialization. COVID took the world by surprise and social lives changed.

nurse and syringe

The nurse who administered our flu shots had a few moments of chit chat while getting her needle primed. She and the receptionist who said, “hello” and smiled as she received my new book for the doctor were our ‘other human’ connections that day.

The man who counted customers going in and out of the grocery store always said, “hello.” The lady, who delivered groceries to our car when we picked them up, always chatted while she quickly took the filled bags from her cart to put in the back seat of our car. Store clerks, enclosed in Plexiglas cages, while filling bags for me, found time for a kind comment, which became more important than ever before.

The serviceman who put air in my tires during the ‘tween’ seasons, when they seemed to lose air, always waved me onto the track beside the oil-change pit, looked me in the eye when he asked my name and said, “thank you” when we left.

no socializing

Last week, after only 200 km use between May and November, I had my tires switched from summer to winter at Toyota. The man who has long been my ‘agent’ at the service desk and I spoke through partition about the condition of the tires and the service needed. The Uber driver who took me home was chatty, but our connection had to be through his rear-view mirror.

Our friendly pharmacist adheres to the red lines, six feet apart, on the ground and so we speak louder to one another through the plexi barrier as she hands me the bagged meds around the end.

Upon occasion we have met friends in a parking lot and have spoken briefly through the car window. I have momentarily met with a friendly salesman in a parking lot for an exchange of a purchased product. I have quickly chatted from across the room to the post lady while she filled the post-boxes. Occasionally, I even chatted in the elevator for a twelve-floor ride with the number-two person allowed on board. Sometimes I  happened to cross paths with the building superintendent for a few exchanged greetings when I took the trash down to the dumpster.

man in mask

Mostly it has been me who has spoken to others. My Love has no idea what the COVID is. He rarely uses a mask. He hates them, although does accept wearing one when we leave the apartment. He gets weekly phone calls from his brother, even though I realize it is the recognition of the voice, not the conversation that is meaningful.

In our home, My Love has had no social interactions and I wondered if not having regular physical socialization, and thus conversations with others, made a difference. I have had enjoyable phone calls, newsy emails, been on teleconferences, and zoom meetings with groups and family, all of which were really important. But the ‘in person’ energy, that vibration of a human being, has been missing. I cannot imagine how My Love must feel with no connections…I do know he still has feelings.

Even though I am not sure I can say COVID has accelerated this loss of words, My Love is no longer a good conversationalist. He sits quietly a lot of the time, watches his photos, looks at books, paints, listens to radio or watches TV, if I am doing other work.

loved one painting

His word recognition has slipped faster than expected during this period. He does not understand my words and finds it hard to find the right words himself to talk to me. I keep remembering his Alzheimer’s is still at play. My Love will not be learning. He is unlearning as fast as his life memories and functional memories evaporate.  

I am not sure if the increased acceleration is due to lack of socialization or if it would occur anyway. I doubt we will ever know. But it is difficult for me to keep having conversations with myself, even as I am ‘talking’ with My Love. I talk for myself, and then I carry his side of the conversation as well. It is not all silent self-talk.

All I can say is that this isolation has changed our life, changed our activities, changed our socialization. I wonder what life will be like when the danger of being near others allows us to be in groups again.

I’d love to know if you ‘like’ the stories here and what you like … so we can keep the focus pointed the right direction! 🥰 There is a ‘Like’ button at the bottom of the page! Thank you so much for your encouragement! 🤗hugs, jas

Each day, do something that makes others smile and your heart sing.

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Social Life During COVID © 2020 Judith Allen Shone

The top four pictures are from
The last photo is the author’s loved one.

For the holidays, consider giving the gift of reassurance to caregivers who would benefit from your support Amazon.

“Is There Any Ice Cream?” and “Did You Hide the Cookies?”
Accepting the GIft of Caregiving series, Part One and Part Two.

Annie B sends bear hugs for the holidays!

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