Thank you for all the well wishes regarding my dad. His second bout with COVID is going much better than the first. In fact, he hasn’t had any symptoms, but the most difficult part is being put in isolation.
I was on the phone with him when the nurse came in dressed in full PPE to move him to another room of his senior residence. He kept asking, “What’s going on? Why am I being punished, I didn’t do anything.” He obviously didn’t want to move rooms but the staff had relocate him for safety reasons.
Keep in mind that my dad is 93, can’t hear or see very well and his short term memory isn’t great. So it’s not surprising he didn’t know the name of the virus. When I called just after he tested positive, he answered the phone with “Mr. Cogan here.” I said, “Excuse me?” He said, “Didn’t you hear I have Cogan?” I said, “What’s Cogan?” “You know, the virus,” he said.
If my sister hadn’t just told me, I probably would have thought he was kidding since he sounded so good and was in a great mood. A couple minutes later, the nurse started rolling him out of his room, which is when I realized that he really thought getting the virus a second time was a death sentence. He said to me, “I guess I’m going to die.” The nurse overheard him and said, “No you’re not. You’re fully vaccinated and boosted so you’re going to be fine.” “Oh wow, I feel so much better now,” he said.
The most difficult part for him is not being able to hang out in the lobby or hallways with other residents and having lots of visitors, like he’s used to.
One night, after we said good night, I didn’t hang up and he doesn’t ever press the red FaceTime button to end the call so I stayed on the line and listened in and could hear him begging a nurse to come in a talk to him. He said, “Nurse, are you there? I need company. I can read you my poetry. I’m really a nice guy.”
In that moment, my heart broke. Fortunately, my dad can have visitors as long as they wear full PPE but so far, just my sister has gone (and almost every day, which is amazing).
I really feel bad for those who have no one. Which reminds me of something I learned from a self-help guru. He said that if everyone could just stop by a senior home on the way home from work once a week and ask the front desk who the loneliest person is and then visit them, the world would be a much better place. He said I bet you once you ask them about their lives they will perk up and feel alive again reminiscing. It’s so true. My dad loves to talk about his kids, poetry and court cases (he’s a retired trial attorney) and there are so many people like him who just want company.
I know the pandemic has made it difficult if not impossible to visit strangers in some states but it really is an amazing way to give back. And for all of those dealing with aging parents, please take a moment to read this below, which I found on AARP years ago.
“My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through. If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”… Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep.
When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl?
When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way … remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day… the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.
If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you.
And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked. When those days come, don’t feel sad… just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love. I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you … my darling daughter.”
Original text in Spanish; Translation to English by Sergio Cadena