Slice of Life Tuesday: Time of Uncertainty

My parents did something risky this week. They drove from their condo in South Carolina back to their primary residence in Western New York. They are both in their early 80’s. I have to be honest and say that I truly do not understand this decision.

For weeks now, my sister and I saw it coming. The dropped hints during our phone calls. The complaints that they are bored. The invented excuses to get back to their life in the North. We warned them. We told them to stay put, that it wasn’t smart to travel. I specifically told them that travel would greatly increase their chance of contracting this virus.

My dad cannot drive 15 hours continuously to reach their destination without stopping. It’s unreasonable for anyone to do that let alone a man in his 80’s.  However, stopping entails touching gas pumps, hotel desks, elevators, breakfast nooks, pens, light switches, and doorknobs.  These are all things that might be contaminated with the COVID-19 virus.  I told them all this.

Then, there is the rate of infection and spreading of cases to consider. They went from a county with few cases to a county with many times more, a county that is still doubling the number of infected people every five days!  I am sure they do not have masks – the now recommended accessory to venture out in public.

Still, they made the choice to drive “home.”

Will they now quarantine for 14 days? I do not know. I have told them that this is the expectation. Will their neighbors grocery shop for them? I do not know.  Will they have groceries delivered?  I do not know. Will they become sick? I do not know. Will my mom stay home, while my dad goes out? I do not know.

Both my sister and I are concerned. Our parents, whom we both love and feel that they raised us well, are concerning us. Their decisions are selfish, rash, and risky. Both my sister and I have seniors in high school. While we are both working to have our teens understand the complexities of an invisible enemy at a time in their life when they feel invincible, our parents are the ones taking the risk.

I am saddened and concerned by this turn of events.  This virus is affecting all of us – ALL of US – around the world. We are all bored, out of routine, and coping with emotions brought about by fear, cabin-fever, and social distancing.  My sleep is being disturbed by worry. I know this is not unusual for me or for others at this time of uncertainty.

But, to knowingly do something so possibly detrimental to yourselves or others, I just do not understand. They reached their home safely yesterday. Now, only time will tell how well their trip went. For now, I just do not know.


13 thoughts

  1. This is such a hard situation, and I’m sorry that you (and me and anyone else) has to go through it. My mother seems to have an handle on the seriousness of the situation, but my dad (79 years old) still goes to the store because he’s out of bananas or wants to fix a dripping sink. I’m glad your folks made it home and hope the trip was a safe one.


  2. It is funny, but not really how our parents become like oppositional children. My parents are both deceased, but we had our share of disagreements about what they should and should not be doing. I hope that I do not become that elderly parent for my kids. At 61 I didn’t feel elderly until COVID-19 hit, and I kept hearing that people over 60 were more at risk. Guess I am old…lol.


  3. I can feel the frustration, the worry, the anxiety you are experiencing. The repetition you include in each of the different paragraphs, as well as the short, anxious sentences you write work so effectively to produce a mood and convey your message. As far as the content of your post, my heart goes out to you. My father, who is 81, is out shopping for my kids’ birthdays, having a friend over to watch movies… and I am frustrated by these choices, as you are with your parents’ choices! It calls an interesting question- are they willing to sacrifice their health and safety for a better quality of life in these twilight years? Maybe. But the problem with that is our parents can become part of the problem. And that’s maddening. These are difficult times to navigate, and my empathy is with you.


  4. This is hard. Our parents are adults, yet they long for the normal like the rest of us do. Your parents, like mine, have lived through many hard times, WWI, Vietnam War, social unrest, etc. Maybe they have a different perspective? It doesn’t make it easy. My mom told me she went to visit a friend last week…my mom is 86. It is scary. She “knew” she shouldn’t have gone and, yet, she thought she “had” to go. I tried to explain again why she should not do this kind of thing. I had a rude awakening when I called my mom a few weeks ago and discovered she didn’t even sound like her old self. I wrote a poem about it, “Quietly,” ( and how the elderly are lonely and, sometimes, isolated. Thank you for you slice from the heart.

    I would love to hear an update on your parents soon. God bless you.


  5. Your post struck a chord with me.

    This is such a hard time. And like you, I’m watching my mom, and my husband’s parents, make many of the same choices. It is really tough to understand, for sure – especially when I wouldn’t be able to travel to be with any of them if they were ill. And even if we could travel, we couldn’t be with them.

    I can’t pretend to know what they’re thinking, but for whatever reason, they’re willing to assume the risk. Doesn’t stop me from being nervous, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, you make all good points. Now that they are home, and still doing well, they are lamenting the fact that they left some nice weather for the northern cold. If they become ill, my sister is only an hour away, but still…with this virus you cannot be there to help unless you can stay the duration. It is enough be make one nervous.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Peg. I have since talked to them and unfortunately, although our conversation was fine, it put me in somewhat of a tailspin. They are doing fine but I’ve been having my typical holiday unhappiness.


  6. I read your story earlier and didn’t know how to respond, so I went for a walk and thought about the position you are in with your parents. I still don’t but I completely understand your worry and frustration and would be feeling the same as you if my parents did this. All we can do is our support our parents like they supported us through all of our crazy antics growing up. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. I am trying to be supportive of their choice and also remind them that many people (probably almost everyone) is board, and feeling closed in right now. I have spoken to them since they’ve arrived home and they seem to be doing fine. I hope it continues! Thanks for taking the time to think about my situation. I appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

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