There is a beautiful unfolding of compassion and creativity happening in our world! I’ve been asking readers to share their coronavirus stories of kindness so we can all see the amazing outbreaks of goodness. Andy Smallman from Seattle wrote about having “Beer with Granddad.”
“The most important thing for my parents, ages 85 & 86, is family. Living in a retirement community just outside of Seattle, they count on regular get-togethers with their children and grandchildren. They both have laptops and are comfortable sending and receiving email. My mom has an iPhone and is adept at texting (maybe a bit too adept, if you know what I mean…).
“Still, laptops, email, and iPhones do not replace the in-person contact they crave and, frankly, need to live fulfilling lives. So when the physical distancing and isolation orders came down and they became prisoners in their own apartment with no visitation options, the sadness was measurable. Was there some way to provide them a connection to family to fill the gap?
“I gave my mom a call and asked her if she’d like to try chatting on Zoom. To her, I think Zoom was either a hot cereal or a TV show for kids on PBS, so it took a little explaining. Once she had the Zoom app downloaded and installed, we hung up the phone. We were now chatting ‘face-to-face.’
“I offered to invite the family to a virtual get-together at 5 p.m. on the upcoming Saturday, playfully saying I would call the event ‘Beer with Granddad’ to get her husband, my dad, bought in. It worked.
“I wasn’t sure who might show up for Beer with Granddad, but one by one, or group by group, family members started to appear. There were nearly 20 of us online, but perhaps most importantly to my parents, they got to see their great-grandchildren, Carina, age 4, and Enzo, age 2.
“Everyone was there. Everyone. Beer choices were shared, toasts were made, updates were given. Warmth, melting the sadness, was ample. My parents beamed for well over an hour. Sitting on their living room couch in a retirement community in virtual lockdown, somehow their entire family had come to visit them.
“As the hour passed and people moved on to their next Saturday activities, there was positive energy to spare. After I closed the Zoom, I called my parents and my father answered, a rare occurrence. He commented with joy what an incredible experience that had been, going so far as to recognize that it’s unlikely everyone will manage to get together in person before he moves on to the great beer garden in the sky. Lives are full and distances great.
“In his reflection, he recognized that the pandemic, as bad as it is, had provided him and my mother an opportunity they would not otherwise have had. Beer with Granddad was such a success we’re going to do it again next Saturday.”
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.