Photo source: pexels.com
Written by Ruth Carey-Stouffer
In mid-March we entered our very own twilight zone. Suddenly on the news, we were being informed that the Corona Virus was being classified as a pandemic. People all over the globe were being hospitalized and dying from this dreaded disease. The symptoms being fever, dry cough, and heavy chest pressure with possible loss of sense of smell and taste. Accordingly, it had already run rampant in China at this point in time and the consensus was that they were slow to let the rest of the world know what was going on.
Our RV Park in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas where we stay for the winter months went from an active and friendly atmosphere park to a complete shut-down by the management in accordance with the Health Department, and President Trump issued orders for residents to stay home except for essential travel for groceries, medicine, gas, work related necessity or special appointments.
Being in our 80’s and hearing over and over again how we were the most vulnerable next to those who had respiratory ailments was very disheartening. I had already made washable masks for us and we wore gloves to shop even before it became mandatory. I found it very ironic that the same countries who had placed a ban on people from foreign countries who wore face coverings, was now making it a prerequisite to wear face masks in public places.
It is difficult to describe the feeling you get when you realize how close and even how quickly the unbridled virus could take you out of the picture. It could even diminish time spent with loved ones as they won’t allow visitation with patients with the disease, even if they are dying. They give it a fancy number Covid-19 and refer to it as similar to the Sars virus which wiped out so many people.
We spend most of our time now reading, doing puzzles and, watching TV and playing games on our computer, or tablet, which makes me very tired. I find myself yawning all the time now, and that is not like me.
The stores’ shelves were almost empty of the most needed products and some stores have shields up for their cashiers and the floors marked for social distancing. It was very disheartening to sit outside the grocery store here in our small town in the valley and see my husband go into the store with mask and gloves on and over 50 people, some couples too, even though it was recommended that only one purchaser was supposed to shop, go in to the store as well, with no coverings whatsoever. The residents of this town were not taking this virus or recommendations from health officials seriously. It is a sad state of affairs to be sure.
We just received an e-mail from our park in Canada that we have to sign a waiver stating they are not responsible for anything that may come about from this virus to protect them from any liability and we must practice social distancing when we return, which we fully intended doing anyway.
We have lived a very sheltered life as Canadians, looking out at the rest of the world facing all kinds of crisis such as famine, poverty, wars and it makes one very complacent and unprepared for such a devastating effect and death toll that this virus is creating in our immediate surroundings.
There were still people here in our park who are ignoring the rules of social gatherings by planning a get together for an Easter Pot Luck Dinner. On TV they are out on the streets in some cities protesting the closing of the businesses and their isolation, wanting to get things opened up again not realizing the gravity of their resistance to follow the authority’s advice that it is too soon yet. They are not only jeopardizing their own lives but the lives of others around them. God help those who are risking their lives and the lives of their loved ones in the line of duty to serve the sick and the dying. Some who have come out of retirement and those just graduating into the profession. Their reward will be that much greater in heaven.
I find the hardest part being a prisoner of our environment is to watch a church service on TV, not being able to receive communion and feel the presence of God in our midst as we gather to praise Him together. I had joined in the regular scheduled events here at the park before the virus emerged, but I didn’t make it a habit to go out of my way to visit with everyone like some do here. I can entertain myself within my surroundings and not feel shut-off like some people, which helps me to survive this isolating pandemic.
We will be leaving the Rio Grande Valley on the 25th of April to head for Canada, not knowing what to expect on route to our destination. My husband said we will not be stopping to eat any place along the way so we will have to stock up on a lot of quick and easy meals to eat in the trailer. We will only be stopping for gas and a place to stop overnight, which also could pose a problem. I intend to keep writing as much as I can while we travel.
There is so much controversy between states and provinces about opening up the stores and the economy and each one has to look at the numbers of cases that they have to determine if it is safe to do so. Some say it’s too soon and others aren’t hesitating. Health care workers are voicing their concern and fear of allowing people back too soon and that they won’t be able to keep up with it if the virus surges in another outbreak. They feel that it is jumping the gun by pushing the reopening of stores, etc. The medical profession should be the ones to say when its time, because they have been taxed beyond their limits being in the forefront and dealing with the trauma of the loss of so many lives.
We finally made the trek home to Canada and while we were quarantining in my sons’ house, we got an email stating that the date for re-entry to our park in Hastings was up in the air until they heard further from the Health Department and the Mayor. Finally, we got word the park would be opening on May 16th at 9:00 am, which was the long weekend and people started arriving just after us on that morning, but few stayed, as everything was closed off, the swings and slide, the pool and the rec hall. Even the waterfront beach was off limits when someone broke the rules of distancing on the first weekend.
While we were still at my sons’ house, we kept to the basement which had all facilities and we only went upstairs to cook our meals with gloves and masks on and took it downstairs to eat. We certainly got our exercise as we were used to living on one level. I am sure our departure to the trailer was a relief for them after having their house divided for a little over two weeks. The only regrets I had was not being able to hug my son and his wife when we got there, not being allowed to sit to dinner with them because my daughter-in-law is a great cook and leaving without goodbye hugs and kisses. I felt like Brooks in the movie Shawshank Redemption, wanting to carve my name above the bed where my son had displayed all my paintings that I left behind with him when we moved into our trailer. Not out of disillusionment like Brooks, but from the love I felt in spite of the isolation of the virus, surrounded by all my artwork.
Back in Hastings I am watching the people who are not wearing masks although shields have gone up in most businesses. I verbalized my surprise to a clerk at a gas station in town and her answer was that they hadn’t had any virus in the area yet and it was too much trouble to wear a mask, and hard to breathe trying to run a business. I took a deep breath through my mask and prayed that she never had to deal with the virus.
It is now mid June and the figures for the virus are staggering, 2.2 million cases in the US and over 100,000 in Canada, 2300 in our province of Ontario alone. This doesn’t even take into account the rest of the world and their losses. I couldn’t believe it when my husband decided to watch the movie Outbreak, which was about a virus spread by a monkey which almost paralleled our own pandemic that we are experiencing at this time. It was almost as if we were living it on film all over again. The details of the events in the film were so similar that it seemed as though our scenario had been scripted, which in turn made it even scarier.
With summer temperatures reaching the 90’s it will be like living in the desert and the pool and the river just a mirage. They are letting people dock their boats and go boating though.
It is September now and although the numbers for the virus has not diminished, everything is open now and the ban is off for visitors and slowly, but surely people are starting to congregate in larger groups everywhere, even here at the campfires. Our church has reopened also and it is great to worship but hard to read through the mask and no singing or communion is allowed. We are grateful though to be among the few who are gathered together in his name. We will continue to pray for those who are suffering and an end to this devastating virus and that the scientists will come up with a vaccine soon so we can all emerge from this twilight zone.