I am quarantined and cannot leave the assisted living facility, Provident Village, I now call home. No, I have not been diagnosed with coronavirus. But, “out of an abundance of caution,” those of us who live in nursing homes or facilities for senior citizens are told to “shelter in place.”

About two years ago I realized that I had to change my lifestyle. Life was becoming confusing and my heart was doing flip flops. After a series of falls that required the EMS folks to take me to the hospital emergency room, I knew it was time for me to do something different.

Probably nothing I have ever done surprised my children more than when I told them I had decided to move into an assisted living facility. At the same time, they were relieved.

I took that giant step and I have not had a single regret. As a resident, I was allowed to come and go as I pleased until the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Now here I am, quarantined, and not able to be with any of my family or friends. I am on the inside looking out. While I miss those warm hugs from children, grandchildren and friends, being quarantined here is not as unpleasant as you might think.

Like me, you probably never thought you would find yourself in the situation our world is in now. But, we are Americans and we can cope. Our friends, relatives and forefathers fought and died to protect our country. Working together we will survive.

At 82 years old, I cannot build airplanes and ships and do other things like the Rosie Riveters of World War II did, but there are other things I can and will do to fight this crisis.

I can fight the coronavirus by sheltering-in-place, washing my hands frequently, staying away from places where there are more than 10 people and keeping six feet distance between other people and me.

Hospitals are short on beds and supplies. I will be very careful to stay as healthy as possible. If I get sick, I become a part of the problem.

Like others of the brittle-bones age, I will be extra careful not to fall. A fall often means a broken bone for seniors and more work for already overworked medical professionals.

I will exercise. You might think exercising at an assisted living facility while quarantined might be hard to do. It is not. As long as I keep my distance from others, I can walk up and down the halls smiling and saying hello to others without getting within six feet of them.

Or, I can turn on my television or computer and find a bend-and-stretch program that I can do standing beside or sitting in a chair.

I can be accepting of change. Since we must keep our distance from one another, residents are eating in our rooms. There is not enough space for all of us to keep our social distance to eat in the dining room together.

Last week there was a big change in how my family celebrated my birthday. Some made a sign saying “Happy Birthday Grandmother” and stood outside of Provident Village’s front door while they sang.

It was one of my best birthday parties ever and one I will never forget.

I can do things for others to help them fight loneliness and depression while we are quarantined. Before my health started going downhill, I would have carried food and left it at their door. Those days are gone, but I can telephone them and chat for a while.

There are some things I will not do. I will not complain. Here at Provident Village during our new-normal, meals may be delivered later than scheduled. My iced tea may be sweetened when I like it unsweetened. Things like that are totally insignificant.

I will not let myself get depressed by watching the news all day. Twice each day is enough. Otherwise, I will turn off my television or I will watch programs that are uplifting and sing along with happy songs.

The aides and nurses may not answer my call button as quickly as I wish they would. But I will remember that other residents may need help more than I do.

And I will remember that our health care workers are real heroes. They are on the front lines, risking their lives, as we go through uncharted territory.

Most of all, I will pray for them, pray for you, pray for all people around the globe and pray for myself..

May God bless us one and all.

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Marguerite Cline is a retired superintendent of Cherokee County schools and a former mayor of Waleska.

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