Yesterday, I remembered that it was winter solstice. The way the earth is tilted makes it the shortest day and longest night of the year. For some, this year has been the longest night of our lives. My family included.
My father died of COVID-19 pneumonia on Nov. 9. My family never dreamed we would be touched by the pandemic. My parents wore facemasks, stayed home (mostly) and even wore gloves in the grocery store. Perhaps the one time they let their guard down, it mattered.
As communication director for Five Star, I have worked for nearly 10 months reminding fellow Five Star team members and residents that they have the power to protect themselves and others by wearing a mask, socially distancing and washing their hands frequently. Then one night, my father died as his compassionate ICU nurse held his hand and cried when she called to tell us he was gone. What had already been a difficult year for the family became harder. Darker.
But starting today, the days will be longer and brighter – and not just because of how the earth is tilted. No, today, two highly effective COVID-19 vaccines have become available to give us hope for brighter days ahead.
My father would have been 90 on Jan. 1, 2021. This year on his birthday, we will light the candles on a cake in his memory, and we will celebrate the fact that millions of others – including healthcare workers like Jerelene Graham, the first Five Star team member to be vaccinated, can look forward to more birthdays in a safer, brighter future ahead.
Joyce Elven is director of corporate communication for Five Star Senior Living and is grateful for all of the compassionate caregivers who work so hard to keep Five Star residents safe and happy.