Several years ago when my daughter lived clear across the country, she called late one evening. She was sick and so was her husband and the baby--my year-old granddaughter. "I wish you lived next door," she said in a dispirited, sick-person voice. I was on a plane the next morning, It's what we do if we can, and I could. I arrived to make soup. straighten the house but mostly take care of my baby Grand so her parents could get some rest.
Fast forward to last week. My son, daughter-in-law and their daughter--my 14-year old granddaughter--were all sick. My daughter-in-law was bedridden with an excruciating headache; my Grand had a fever and was congested; my son had what he thought was a bad cold. They tested and all of them were positive for Covid.
I did not hop on a plane.
This is the new reality. There are times when our grown children need us--or we may think they need our ministering care. But we can't or shouldn't race to their side. It isn't just Covid that keeps us away--though that's a significant part. In ways that the pandemic accelerated, the home care we once provided has been supplanted by apps. Prescriptions can be delivered; so can food--prepared or otherwise. Friends and neighbors can be texted and asked to drop things off or run errands. As to taking care of my Grand: A 14-year-old is not a toddler; it's unlikely she would welcome an intrusion by granny and gramps even if it came in the form of chicken soup. She took care of herself. She had her laptop to pass the feverish hours and books from me for her Kindle.
I've had to re-think the ways in which I can be helpful or useful to my grown children if they become ill. When my husband and I were sick with Covid at the very beginning of the pandemic, my son and daughter checked in on us several times a day and ordered stuff to be delivered to us. We felt cared for. That, I remind myself, is the way things are now. I called and texted my son and his family; I ordered stuff for them. But I did not travel anywhere. As our doctor told my kids when we had Covid and they wanted to drive here to oversee our care, "All you can do if you come here," she said, "is get Covid."
They stayed home then. We stayed put now. It's the new normal.
painting: "Repose" by John Singer Sargeant