My mother broke her three-month quarantine this week. She lives in an independent living facility in Atlanta. Her meals have been delivered to her apartment each day since the pandemic closed their dining room. For the past month, she has finally been allowed to walk on certain days for 30 minutes on a path on the property, provided a mask was worn.
Do not get me wrong. Huntcliff Summit has done a wonderful job in protecting the health of their residents, including my mother. It comes at a personal cost, however. No visits. No leaving the facility. No community meals.
Thankfully, the balcony of Mom’s apartment overlooks the entrance. She has spent the afternoons there watching whatever activity was happening, diminished as it was.
When Governor Kemp extended the quarantine for these types of facilities this past Friday, my Mother decided she had had enough. Supportive of her facility’s decisions and thankful for their support, she nevertheless decided it was time to break out of prison, as she jokingly described it.
She and my sister arrived at Compass Lake this past Saturday. Despite numerous Zoom and Facetime calls, it was the first hug I had given my mother in three months. The first thing out of her mouth is that she wanted to go swimming. It was just a few minutes before Mom had on her bathing suit and was literally jumping in the lake.
Jobie Ponder was a child of Compass Lake as I was. Both sets of her grandparents had places at the lake. She says this is her favorite place in the world, and she has been to a lot of places.
There was something special in watching my mother floating along in the water on a noodle. The smile on her face said it all. She washed her hair in the lake, a generational tradition that results in the softest hair ever.
It was transformational for her. She was back at her “Happy Place” after being held hostage to the Coronavirus. Add in fresh corn, peas, butterbeans, tomatoes, and homemade ice cream and it is easy to forget all the turmoil in the world.
We have had long talks on the porch, long naps in the hammocks on the dock, and several sunset cruises on the boat. I do not know if she will ever leave now that we have finally gotten her down here.
As a young boy, we would arrive at the lake for the weekend. My brother, sister and I would jump out of the car, put on our bathing suits, and then run full speed into the water. It was the best feeling in the world. Cold water on a hot day.
80 years later, my mother still has those same feelings and thoughts. Not many 88-year-old women jump in the lake and swim, not once but several times a day.
These are trying times we live in. Sometimes we must reach back to our own childhood to find places of comfort. Compass Lake has always been such a place for my mother, just as it has always been for me.
It is not the solution for the world, but for my precious mother, the answer for the pandemic, quarantine and social distancing was simple. Just go jump in the lake.
Dan Ponder can be reached at [email protected]