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 edited for length and clarity.
Arminta and Ron Miller, residents, The Waters on 50th senior living community
Ron: It’s another day in paradise. We take one day at a time. This month we’re going to get our flu shots and tested again for the virus.
Arminta: They’re coming to our rooms to test us now so we don’t have to go out and have lines of people. I think more people will come this way. They’re doing the tests every two weeks. With the staff it’s mandatory; it’s not mandatory for us, but I feel like it is.
After that test came back negative [a Waters resident falsely tested positive, prompting a brief shutdown], they have opened up more and more. We can get our own mail now. We have to wear our masks and stay distanced, but at least you can say hi to people and see half faces.
Every Thursday now, four people can get together outside, and they’ve been having these special events. This Thursday it’s going to be pie and coffee. Next week it’s going to be a trivia game and the week after that it’s going to be s’mores.
We’re 6 feet apart, but at least we can talk to people. We’ve been talking about how it’s sad that the gal who was in charge of the activities has left to become a personal assistant. And we’ve been talking about some of the residents who’ve moved away.
In our conversations, we kind of steer clear of the election.
Ron: Because you’re not going to change anyone’s mind.
Arminta: But this particular election, I don’t want my grandkids thinking a president can be so untruthful and unkind — he’s made fun of people. I say I’m a die-hard Democrat, but I would have voted for John McCain, because he was a real gentleman.
Let’s see, what else has been happening here?
I’m excited about trying out the hairdresser because it’s hard for us to get out. Ron’s got to drag my walker and he’s getting too old for that. It’s hard for him to get it in and out of the car, and that’s why we’re feeling a little more isolated. We try to sit outside as much as possible to feel the fresh air. There’s a park not too far, so maybe we’ll try walking there.
Ron: We’ve been doing our own exercise program every day, and Arminta’s getting a little stronger. That’s a positive.
Arminta: We’ve been watching the Twins, although we’re a little disappointed right now.
Ron: And we’ve got the Vikings on Sunday.
Arminta: Oh, yes! Ron’s birthday is Oct. 13, and my kids bought him a cardboard cutout that will be in the seats of the stadium by the end zone.
Ron: You send in a picture and they do the cutout. If I’m not there physically, my cutout is there. It’ll be me from the stomach up.
Arminta: And then he gets to keep the cutout afterward, so he’s going to stick it in the hall. They’ll probably tell him he can’t keep it there but, anyway, they’ll know a Vikings fan lives here.
We’ve been spending time looking at old pictures. We had a bag of photos with no people in it — just our garden, and how beautiful it was, and food I’d served at parties. It was very nostalgic and made me remember how active we used to be. It’s different now.
My brother, who’s 93, is at Mount Olivet nursing home. They’re taking very good care of him, but he has Alzheimer’s and he’s been having issues and really going down hill. I feel bad that I can’t visually see him. So that’s hard. He’d had some bad incidents, temper tantrums — though with Alzheimer’s, it’s the disease and not him. If he doesn’t know who I am, he might get mad. Still, if he could hear my voice even …
But other than that … well, I still feel like a prisoner, I really do. But it will be good to see my grandson soon. And I’m reading lots of books.
VOICES FROM THE PANDEMIC
- Barb Joyce, infection preventionist, Jones-Harrison senior living
- Marcia Zimmerman, rabbi, Temple Israel
- Arminta and Ron Miller, residents, Waters on 50th senior living community
- Tracey Schultz, science teacher, Clara Barton Open School
- Peter Kumasaka, Linden Hills, emergency room physician
- Jen and Marcus Wilson, co-owners, True Grit Society gym
- Marion Greene, board chair, Hennepin County
- Jesse Vasquez, Uptown resident
You can read all of the stories here.