By Lisa Batten Kunkleman
I saw my mother the other day. Yes, during quarantine, we saw each other. It’s different and distant and yet, it’s better than not seeing her at all. When I walked in her back door she immediately said, “Here’s your air hug,” as she did her twisty hug-herself dance. She and I have always been huggy dancers.
I’m amazed at how quickly our family has gotten used to this different life. It’s been over two months, but in a grand life span, it’s hardly any time. I’ve laid eyes on her a handful of times and the closest we’ve come to hugging is me sitting on the floor and hugging her long thin legs. They were safely covered in pants so there was no actual body contact.
Hubby and I delivered Mom a couple of coolers for when her ancient refrigerator dies and she needs to save all her condiments. It’s been around for decades.
“The fridge has always been a bing-bonger and a hummer but it’s singing a different tune over the past few days. It’s sounding more mournful. Usually I can smack it and the sounds go away. When it’s quiet, I give it a nice pat and say, ‘Thank you.’”
I advised her to shift the frozen foods from the fridge-freezer compartment to the full-sized upright in her garage, just in case the old cold machine conks out. There’s not much food to worry about. My brother and his girlfriend keep her well-fed with home cooked meals since they are nearby. I wish I could have been there sooner and helped more than I have. I think I have caregiver envy since I live several hours away.
I call every day and ask Mom how she’s doing with all this isolation. She always says, “I’ve got nothing to complain about. I’m still here. I’ve been practicing social isolation for too many years to count now. I’m practically an expert.”
Seeing her for only the third time since the quarantine began, I wanted to put her in a bear hug and rock back and forth like we usually do. But I can’t and I hate it. Before leaving, I stood back to back with Mom and we did a little tushy dance, actually shaking our bottoms together. It’s more personal than tapping elbows but not as dangerous as face to face hugging. For now, Mom and I are dancing cheek to cheek.