Thursday, March 19, 2020

Jane: Respite in the Age of Coronavirus

A month ago, I looked into a respite program offered by one of our local memory care facilities. I had not had a good night’s sleep in months, and I was exhausted. I spent the morning with a staff person getting all the details and having a tour of the facility. The next week, Sky and I returned for him to spend the day and see what he thought. He went to several activities, and we had lunch together in the dining room. So far, so good.

After discussing it with the rest of the family, and giving ourselves time to make a decision, we all agreed a two-week respite would give me the chance to get some rest, and perhaps the staff at the facility could figure out the right medication for Sky to take to help him sleep through the night. Even Sky agreed to go.

So I packed up the things the staff told me to bring for him, including some family photos and a favorite quilt. We settled Sky into his room and he went off to activities while I signed papers, and more papers, and more papers, and then wrote the big check. I dreamed of my two-week tropical vacation, laying on a beach somewhere soaking up the sun and sleeping to my heart’s content.

Then the coronavirus hit.

OK, so no tropical vacation. Maybe I could go to New York City for a couple of days and see a Broadway show? Nope. Broadway was cancelled. Maybe Montreal? Whoops, they closed the US/Canada border.

In the meantime, I got a phone call saying the facility was not allowing any visitors of any kind whatsoever. Then the governor made the same restrictions on all elder care facilities. That was that.

I am getting plenty of sleep now.

They’re still trying to find the right nighttime medication for Sky.

Sky calls me several times a day, and we chat for long time or a brief minute or two. He has all kinds of things to tell me, none of which are based in reality. I listen and then go on to tell him about my day. I try and tell him about the coronavirus, how I’m not allowed to visit him, how schools and restaurants and many businesses are closed, but I’m not sure how much sinks in. Today he told me our neighbor (the infamous Mr Lanoue) was responsible for the virus, and that the military had arrived at the facility, and he was worried they would damage his car. He also told me he has a suitor, but “didn’t want to go into detail over the phone.”

Given the unknown nature of the virus, and how long this crisis will last, my family and I have decided it is best for everyone for Sky to stay in the memory care facility until it is all over. He will be safe, and cared for by competent, well-trained staff. He will have interesting activities and great meals, and people to talk with him 24/7.

In the meantime, I have started seeds — the gardening season will soon be upon us, with new life, and new hope. The ice will melt in the lake, the fruit trees will bud out, and life will go on as it does.

My best to all of you as you traverse this unknown time. May you be safe. May you be loved.


  1. Hi Jane - I always read these blog posts the minute they arrive in my mailbox. I knew that you had put Sky into respite care, but of course I didn't think about the coronavirus, and what that would do to your plans. I'm so glad to "see" you on FB and know that life goes on, though somewhat differently than you had planned. Sending love and good thoughts... Judy

  2. Thank you for letting us share in Sky’s journey... you and he certainly have had an amazing journey through all your years together and what a gift this blog is for others on this same unchosen detour. Take care of yourself as your journey continues. May you always feel Sky's gentle, sweet and optimistic soul with you along with at least a daily chuckle. what an amazing man who will not soon be forgotten.