Waters on 50th resident: ‘I’ll ask, “What was the diagnosis?” And he’ll say, “I’m a lean, mean fighting machine”’

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: We’re still recovering from the debate last night.

Arminta: It was pretty obvious who won that one.

Ron: On Election Day, The Waters is taking four people at a time over to vote. And then on Election night, we have a large room here and a big TV. We’ll be able to watch the election with socially distanced seating. And we’ll have treats. 

Arminta: There’s a bus driver who usually takes us to activities, and he’s going to spend all day taking people back and forth to vote. The polling place was in the church behind us last year, but now it’s several blocks away at a school. I think it’s wonderful they’re doing that, though Ron and I have already voted with absentee ballots.

We’d always have a big Halloween party here. This year, on Nov. 6, they’re setting up something called an “Underground Speakeasy Party.” We’re supposed to dress up like it’s the Roaring Twenties with Zoot suits and ’20s dresses. We’re supposed to be flappers. They’re going to have a music combo, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. There will be a secret password to get in, but we won’t know it until later. 

Ron: Everything is social distanced here. They’re going to host a very nice Thanksgiving dinner, and they’re telling people not to go outside for their dinner. If you go to a large gathering, you could get the virus. 

Arminta: They’re saying that if you go for Christmas or Thanksgiving to your children’s, then you’re going to be put in quarantine for 14 days when you get back. They’re really hoping people will stay put. 

But overall, things are getting back to normal. 

Ron: They’re opening up the exercise room on the weekends now. It’s the first time I’m doing seven days a week of exercise since before the pandemic. 

Arminta: There’s no COVID here currently, so the mail can be delivered. I’m still the only resident who has tested positive. When I talk to other residents, they’re worried and want to know how I feel. They’re not afraid of me, I don’t think. 

Our family is doing well. Two of my grandchildren are flying in for my brother’s funeral Monday. Everybody’s sad — my brother was very loved. He was a special guy.

Ron: With the nine grandkids, we’re very fortunate: Two are in school and the rest are all working. So we’re lucky. 

Arminta: Now Ron’s going for his annual physical because he missed it when we were quarantined. Finally we’re going to get our flu shots. 

Ron: The only time I go outside is for food, drugs or doctors.

Arminta: Going to the doctor is a big deal now! And I can’t let Ron go alone because he doesn’t hear what they tell him. He’ll come out of there, and I’ll ask, “What was the diagnosis?” And he’ll say, “I’m a lean, mean fighting machine.” That’s what he always says, so my kids won’t let him go alone anymore.

Ron: After 50 years, nobody trusts me.


VOICES FROM THE PANDEMIC

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