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Column: Community and family connections more important than ever - even from a distance
Shannon Casas
Shannon Casas

Many family members have been waving to loved ones on the other side of assisted living home windows.

My mom has been one of them.

But she didn’t just stand outside my nana’s window to chat and wave. She stood outside the continuing care facility and played her ukelele, yodeled and blew bubbles.

This is the type of behavior that would have thoroughly embarrassed me as a teenager. Not only was she playing her ukelele and yodeling, she also was wearing a red bandanna and cowboy hat. 

But it’s only fitting given that my nana is band leader of the Stone Mountaineers, an old-time country ensemble that plays regular shows at the facility that overlooks Stone Mountain. My mom often plays along with them.

Now, my nana is quarantined in a room on the higher end of the continuing care spectrum following a stroke and stay at the hospital.

Helpers wearing masks come and go. She’s not allowed to go into the hallway.

Nana was in good spirits when I spoke to her via FaceTime on Thursday, and she called my mom’s little show “really cute.”

Some of the other residents inside took a few moments to enjoy it, she said. 

Trying to cheer up each other and ourselves has become a new national pastime. And never have we more needed some cheerleaders.

We need musicians playing live on Facebook, kids drawing pictures for the elderly — we even need these silly social media games. Someone started a giant game of I Spy, where we’re asked to share a photo with a certain color. Someone else started asking for landscape photos. We’re desperate to fill our Facebook feeds with something other than the onslaught of news about the virus, though we need some of that, too. 

So a Facebook Live video of my mother standing in the grass outside my nana’s building, ukelele in hand, is a welcome distraction. She tried to cheer the residents with some Hank Williams, a little Simon and Garfunkel and a heavy dose of Slim Whitman. 

We’ve reached the point in this pandemic where we’ve all been ordered to shelter in place as we likely watch the numbers of cases skyrocket in the coming week, more so than they have to this point.

I wish we could connect with each other over at church or at work or at a neighborhood cookout. But I couldn’t snag any ground beef or hamburger buns in my grocery order this week, so even a Zoom cookout isn’t going to work.

We’re all doing what we can to connect. And though this paper is coming to you less often, I hope you’re still finding ways to connect with your community via our ePaper, website and email newsletters. Community is possibly more important now than ever. 

And so is family.

Nana was tested for COVID-19 more than a week ago. We’re still awaiting the results. So far her biggest complaint is that she can’t seem to get any coffee.

Shannon Casas is editor in chief of The Times and a foster parent. You can hear her most weeks on the Inside The Times podcast on iTunes or Google Play.

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