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COVID-19: Parent on the Frontlines

COVID-19: Parent on the Frontlines
Posted on 03/26/2020
Corona VirusWritten by Elizabeth Adams, Student Journalist, St. Theresa's Catholic High School, Midland

It seems that the world has turned on its head all in a matter of a few weeks. As March Break has come to an end students across the country will begin continuing their education from home, for what feels like the foreseeable future. On March 25th all non-essential businesses will be closed, but not everyone has the luxury of working from home. Parents who work on the frontlines will still be exposed to this virus, then come back home to their families at the end of the day. Doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers, old-age home workers, religious leaders, and grocery store employees are working tirelessly to serve the sick, the elderly, those in need, and the rest of the increasingly panicked public.

My mother is the secretary and bookkeeper of a church, and has been fortunate enough to have been working from home since last week. She has set up her temporary office at our dining room table. From her makeshift office my mom returns phone calls, and coordinates new plans for baptisms, funerals, and meetings. With 6 people living under one roof, who are all trying to keep busy, I am sure distractions abound. On her lunch breaks she is researching ways to help her children learn from home. Despite all of these stresses my mom says she is thankful to be at home with her favourite people, her family.

My dad on the other hand, is an essential worker, as a grocery store manager. The store has been packed with hysterical shoppers for the past three weeks. The minister of education announces schools will be closing...frenzy. Prime Minister Trudeau decides to close the border...chaos. Premier Ford declares a state of emergency in Ontario and all non-essentials will be closing... pandemonium. Stores are running out of not just toilet paper or hand sanitizer but frozen food, bread, milk, eggs, and flour. These times are stressful for everybody, but perhaps even more so when you have to help a customer who tells you that they’ve just gotten off the plane from Florida and on top of that is not practicing social distancing while talking to you. That is my dad’s reality every day.

It’s scary to have a frontline worker at home. Anyone my dad interacted with during the day becomes a potential threat to our family’s health. To keep clean my family has instituted a daily routine that includes; disinfecting all door handles, metal surfaces, light switches, the kitchen, and bathroom. We also drink a few hot beverages daily, use mouth wash each night, and wash our hands pretty much every hour. All of my siblings and I must pitch in when “chore hour” roles around to ensure all of the boxes on our extensive list are checked off.

Through this experience I’ve learned that in uncertain times people tend to panic and need a sense of control. This takes form in shopping and in an extreme way in hoarding. What people need to know when they go out is that social distancing measures are not suggestions, they are the best way to keep not only yourself but frontline workers safe. This means being considerate, and stay six feet apart. If you are returning from a trip abroad, go home and find a friend or family member who can do your errands for you. Essential workers would rather be at home watching Netflix but they do their necessary jobs to keep hospitals running, the law enforced, the elderly cared for, and the shelves stocked.

Even when we feel surrounded by despair there are always little bright sides to be found. It has been a blessing to reconnect with my family as we push pause on life. We are learning how to work together, and compromise (because no Michael, we are not watching Avengers Endgame for the third night in a row). At the end of all this hopefully we will better appreciate a handshake with a stranger, crowded movie theatre, morning bus rides, coffee with friends, and the importance of community.

There are so many people out there who are feeling desperate and helpless, and that’s understandable. Despite feeling that way there is no need to buy 20 packages of chicken or three buggies of bottled water. It is of the utmost importance right now to not only stay home but stay calm. The Lord himself tells us in the Holy Scriptures,“In this world you will have troubles. But take heart! I have overcome the world” John 16:33. This is indeed a troubling time and we must be cautious but we can still make an effort to find joy and comfort in Christ. So wash your hands, say your prayers, Jesus and germs are everywhere.

St. Luke, patron of physicians, pray for us,
St. Elizabeth of Hungary, patroness of nursing homes and services, pray for us,
St. Raphael the Archangel, patron of bodily ills, pray for us,
St. Bernadette, patroness of illnesses, pray for us,
St. Jude, patron of desperate situations, pray for us
Holy Mary, Health of the Sick, pray for us.