The Southwest Journal is documenting the coronavirus pandemic by recording the personal stories of Minneapolis residents and workers whose daily lives are in a state of flux. As the outbreak evolves, we will be checking in with the participants regularly. Read all of the stories here.
All interviews are conducted over the phone, and conversations are edited for length and clarity.
Arminta and Ron Miller, residents, The Waters on 50th senior living community
Arminta: We’ve lived in South Minneapolis all our lives. I went to West High School on 28th Street and he went to Central, and we met at the University of Minnesota — very young. We bought a house at 46th & Pillsbury, which we added onto with a really nice big kitchen and family room. I taught pre-school.
Ron: We lived in our house for 50 years. I was a national sales manager for a plumbing and heating wholesale house. We didn’t move a lot.
Arminta: We have three children and nine grandchildren. My son lives in Spokane, Washington, and he married a gal and she said to me, “I’m not going to have any children; I’m a career woman.” And she had four boys!
Four years ago, my husband had gallbladder surgery and I had been ill for awhile, so we decided to move into a senior home. We go to Mount Olivet Lutheran Church and, after church one day, we saw this place being built and decided it would be perfect for us.
My husband is an ambassador, so when new people come he greets them and we take them to dinner in the dining room. I belong to a writing group and like to read. They have a book club where one of the gals goes out and gets books and brings them back to us in a kit of ten or 12.
Ron: In normal times we’re like a small family or a small community. Everybody cares for everybody else. If somebody needs groceries, people will go with them. They bring in happy hour every Thursday and entertainment during the week, too. The bad thing about it is you get so close to people and then they pass away.
Arminta: Now it’s weird. About a week ago they told us we were going into quarantine, or isolation in our rooms. So we don’t get together and eat anymore in the dining room. They bring us our meals three times a day. They give us a menu, we check off what we want and they deliver it to us. At first we weren’t getting our mail because the mailman wouldn’t come in, but we got someone on staff to pick it up now. Our kids can’t come in or visit us. Hairdressers can’t come in anymore. We had a masseuse who’d come in once a week and she can’t come in.
We’re trying to catch up on all the old Oscar movies on TV. We’ve been doing a lot of cleaning. My hands, I wash them so often, they’re so thin, and they really hurt. I think we’re taking good care of ourselves. They’re still holding exercises every day.
Ron: We have chair yoga, we work with weights. We can get together as a group as long as we’re 6 feet apart. It’s good. It gets you out of your apartment.
Arminta: He leaves the apartment a lot; he doesn’t like to stay put. We can walk the hallways for exercise, too. I think we’re taking good care of ourselves, and we haven’t killed each other yet.
Ron: It’s called bonding.
Arminta: We’ve been married 60 years, and this is a test, I think.