One feature of social distancing I find myself struggling with is being at home more. I am a person that enjoys “going on adventures,” as my grandkids say. So, in general, I don’t spend a lot of time at home.
Last weekend I came up with a way to get out of the house, in a sense, while still physically being at home. I decided to call friends, acquaintances and relatives who live in different states and visit with them about what effects the coronavirus pandemic was having on their daily lives. I shared some of those conversations with our readers in Saturdays edition of The Valley News and on our website.
Some of the people I called I hadn’t spoken with for quite some time. I found myself wondering afterward why we tend to put off making those personal phone calls. Have our lives really gotten that busy, or has technology taken those personal phone calls away from us. When I pick up my phone, it is rarely to make a phone call. I use my phone primarily to communicate by text messages, Facebook, Messenger, email, or Snapchat.
I know they say we won’t learn the lessons from the effects this pandemic is going to have on the world until we are through it and look back, but I think I have already learned a few personal lessons.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the technology we have, but I learned last weekend that taking the time to make those phone calls is still important. It was nice to hear the voice of each person that I called.
Also, over the last few weeks, I have realized how thankful I am that my husband and I live near our kids and grandkids and can see them often. I hadn’t thought a lot about that until the coronavirus pandemic hit and I realized I might not be able to see them as much during this time.
I am also thankful for the adventures I have been able to take the grandkids on that we cannot go on right now because we are practicing social distancing and places of businesses and entertainment are closed. So I have been given a reminder of how important family time is and should not be taken for granted. It can be taken away in the blink of an eye.
One of my phone calls this past weekend was to my cousin Hollie that lives in Chesapeake, Virginia. We are two days apart in age and as kids celebrated our birthdays and most holidays together with our families. We even had a horse we shared that we named Hilda.
Easter was always a fun holiday at Hollie’s house growing up. Her grandparents made it a tradition to have a large neighborhood Easter egg hunt each year. One year we had to hunt eggs in the snow and our picture made the local newspaper.
Hollie had plans this year to travel back to Iowa for a visit in May, but with the current situation, those plans may change. If I don’t get to see her this year, at least now I remember how to pick up the phone and make a call.
I would like to share the conversation I had with my cousin Hollie with you here, along with my column.
Chesapeake, Virginia, got their first confirmed case of COVID-19 this past week.
Chesapeake is where Hollie Rinschler, originally from Keosauqua, lives with her husband Mark and children Avery and Braden.
“Like everyone else, we’re trying to figure it out as we go,” said Rinschler.
Rinschler said all schools in Virginia are closed and teachers put together an emergency packet for each grade that includes a reading and math packet.
“We are starting to get a little more information from the teachers,” said Rinschler.
Rinschler said they could use technology like Google Meet to communicate with the schools.
Rinschler said before the coronavirus pandemic even reached Virginia, they talked to their kids about washing their hands and personal space. She said they wash their hands as soon as they walk into the house and before they leave.
“Avery will look up cases each day and see what the numbers are and she understands the bell curve as to why we’re doing it,” said Rinschler.
Rinschler said it is easier to explain to her daughter, who is in 7th grade, what is happening and they can watch the news together and talk about it. She noted with Braden, who is in 4th grade, it’s a little different. She said they had guided Braden on what to do and he understands he can’t hang out with his friends and if he has questions, they sit down and talk.
Rinschler lives in a neighborhood that has planned fun activities for the kids. She said they communicate with a neighborhood Facebook page.
“Our neighborhood did a scavenger hunt,” said Rinschler. “A bunch of us put shamrocks in our windows and you could walk or ride around the neighborhood and find all the shamrocks.”
Neighborhood kids also work on community projects.
“I work at a church, so my kids and a couple other kids made cards and that was their art and community project for the day,” said Rinschler. “We’re going to send them to the shut-ins that can’t come to church on a regular basis. We usually send them bulletins from the church each week but we’re not having church, so we we’re going to send those to them, so at least they’re still getting something in the mail from the church.”
Rinschler said they are also working on thank you cards for family friends and neighbors who work in the medical profession. She said they spend time outside going for a run, bike riding and playing basketball.
A large neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt is a tradition Rinschler carried down from her grandparents.
Rinschler said she is still considering a revised version using social distancing by placing eggs in individual families yards and texting them when they can go out and find eggs instead of having one giant neighborhood hunt.
Rinschler is also a Girl Scout Troup leader and said their cookie season had been extended due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“This weekend was supposed to be our last weekend for cookie booths, but we can’t do the booths now,” said Rinschler.
Rinschler said people are placing quite a few orders for cookies and they will leave their money on the porch and she will leave their cookies for them.
“We have painting to do that was already on our spring/summer to-do list, so it’s getting done now instead of later,” said Rinschler. “It’s kind of nice to be able to do it and not have to stop and go to a softball game. We can literally paint today and be done with it.”
Rinschler said it took a little longer for business in Virginia to close than other states.
“The first major closure was the schools, then everything followed after that,” said Rinschler. “Restaurants are open for drive-through and delivery using mobile apps and they leave it at your door with no contact.”
Rinschler joined the Navy in 1992 after graduation and served for 22 years retiring in 2014.
“I was in the medical field and was an orthopedic technician that assisted the doctors,” said Rinschler. “When I first retired, I worked as an administrative assistant for two years in a medical office.”
With the church closed to the public where she is currently employed, she alternates workdays with a co-worker. She said they provided a drive-through food pantry, and their pastor has been posting sermons on Facebook.
Rinschler’s husband, Mark, is still active military in the Navy and is on shore duty. They are also alternating days to cover the office they work from and work remotely from home the other days.
Rinschler said working in the medical field would have many challenges right now. She noted two medical Navy ships, the USNS Comfort and the USNS Mercy, are being activated to help free up space in hospitals in New York and California by treating patients without COVID-19 symptoms.
Rinscher is concerned people do not understand the importance of social distancing.
“It’s people not understanding and not getting the fact that they are part of the problem as to why the numbers aren’t decreasing,” said Rinschler. “They keep going up.”
Rinschler said she believes it will take over a year for them to have a vaccination for COVID-19.
“Once we do get the curve down, this is going to be a way of life until we can get everyone vaccinated,” said Rinschler. “Hopefully, it won’t be as crazy, but I don’t see where it’s going to go away. That’s my biggest concern that it’s here to stay.”
Rinschler said she worries about individuals that already suffer from social anxieties and she prays for her friends that are in the medical field.
“I have a friend that’s a nurse and I have another one that’s a doctor and I pray for them,” said Rinschler.” A couple of our friends are paramedics and they never know what they are walking into. At least with a nurse, you kind of have an idea of what’s going on before they get to you. It’s just frightening.”
Rinschler said it is like she is stuck in the “Avengers: Infinity War” movie. She said in the film, Thanos, a character, is trying to collect infinity stones to wipe out half the population. She said once he collects the stones, he snaps his fingers and people across the world vanish.
“He’s thinning the herd basically and making a better generation, so to speak,” said Rinschler. “That’s exactly what I feel like that I’m stuck in an infinity war.”
Rinschler said her grandmother always told her, “God does everything for a reason. You may not understand it at that particular moment, but He’s doing it and eventually, one day in your life, you’ll be like ah-ha. I still hear her telling me that when I’m in a situation that I don’t understand. Then I hear her say you’ll figure it out at some point and time and it will come back to you and you’ll be like ‘oh that’s why He did that.’”