• Dale Thele

The Vulnerable of Us Amidst COVID-19


Picture, if you will, a spotless expansive lobby, void of chairs and tables, only the lingering pungent scent of disinfectant hangs precariously in the air. Where only last week folks laughed and told jokes around tables of lively dominoes and friendly card games. What a stark difference one week makes. I’m referring to a 164 unit downtown high-rise apartment building where most of the residents are single senior citizens living on meager monthly social security benefits. A community of aging folks who gather daily in the lobby to socialize with their neighbors, in most cases, the only social interaction they have. A community setting where they claim a complimentary morning cup of joe, play weekly Bingo games, participate in on-site Sunday church services complete with a continental breakfast, activities these folks look forward to each week. Then the Novel Coronavirus put an end to all of that for these folks, as they are banned from gathering in the lobby. The lobby now sits empty, no chairs, no tables, no residents, even the often played upright piano is gone. Only ghostly echos of by-gone laughter and fading memories of neighbors enjoying each other's company haunts the deserted lobby. What will become of these forgotten folks who are living out what are supposed to be their golden years? Cooped up in their modest apartments, they’ve been robbed of their social support system. Isolated and afraid of their own shadows, they huddle behind securely bolted doors, waiting, wondering what’s to become of them. They have nothing to look forward to, no one comes to visit, many do not own a television or even a radio to keep them company. Some own cell phones, but they never ring. They stare blankly out of windows which separate them from the outside world where a menacing virus lurks, waiting to pounce—if contracted, it could put them in the hospital—or worse. What do they have to look forward to? Before you lament about how challenging it is to be confined to your home—complete with your computers and laptops, cell phone, television, video games, friends and family you text and chat with daily—image what life is like for the less fortunate, the vulnerable, the lonely who have little to nothing. Social distancing has proven to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but at what cost to our forgotten elderly? In these uncertain times, reach out to your elderly and vulnerable neighbors with a weekly (or daily) phone call or anonymously hang a frequent care package on their door. Find a way to let them know they have not been forgotten. Just remember—one day in the future—you too could be in their shoes. Be safe. Be kind. Be patient. But most of all, show compassion for your neighbors. Don't make them suffer this temporary storm alone.



Dale Thele

fiction with an lgbt twist

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