There are so many ways our individual lives, as well as our society, are being impacted by the pandemic. This is one that I haven’t seen talked about much. I appreciate Terrie’s thoughtfulness and insights.
A huge void
by Terrie Turner, Palm Springs-Palm Desert area, California
A large number of retirees—many, but not all, of whom are seniors—are missing a meaningful and fulfilling part of their lives. The mainstream word is volunteering. I call it, “making a difference” in other people’s lives, as well as in one’s own life. The data indicates that the most vulnerable to dying of Covid 19 is this demographic, and in many cases, this demographic represents the majority of volunteers. Not being able to volunteer can create a huge void.
For the past few years, I myself volunteered one day a week at my synagogue and half a day at the library in the community where I live. Both are now closed.
Visiting the sick, reading to patients with Alzheimer’s, reading to children in a school, greeting and answering questions in a hospital, helping in a veterinarian clinic—these are just some of the activities that are now being held in abeyance.
My friend Micki volunteered for many years in the ICU at Eisenhower Hospital. She has been with people in their times of pain and grief, as well as joy. Through the years, people have remembered how much she gave during these times of sadness and fear. Micki and I never have a conversation without her saying how much she misses the hospital. And since we both belong to the same synagogue, she knows how much I miss my “Tuesdays at Sinai.”
Prior to moving out to the desert, I took an eight-session course offered by the Board of Rabbis and was assigned to a hospital in Los Angeles, where I visited the Jewish patients. I brought prayer and offered conversation. My certification was as a para-chaplain, but many wanted to believe I was a rabbi. So many memories come to mind of crying, and even laughing, sharing prayers with the most wonderful people. I often wondered, “Who was healing whom?”
All of you for whom this piece of your life is missing, I encourage you to take a break. During the times that you would have been volunteering, turn off the TV, stop reading the news, and find something to bring you joy and comfort. Call a friend or relative you haven’t been in touch with, pick up a “just for fun” or “beach read” book—or try writing a post for Ruth’s Corona Support Blog. I just did.