Monday, 11 May 2020
Drive thru....Mother's Day...
Drive thru fast food....banking...COVID-19 testing...
2nd Sunday of May in Japan is the day to say "Thankyou" to the okaasan in your life for all her lunch box making and worrying about you. It's the day to give carnations, take her out to lunch and buy her a cute, pink cake.
Not in 2020.
Here we all are, not actually in lockdown - but in the Japanese version of Stay Near Home and Don't Travel Too Much. For me and DS this day would usually be a visit to the care home with flowers and small cake, a sit and a chat...or a wheelchair trip out to a local park to enjoy fresh air and cherry blossoms.
Yesterday we did a Drive Thru visit.
I sat in the car, he ran into the care home entrance area with a card and a small cake in a bag.....and 1 minute later we drove away.
Hoping Okaasan enjoyed it.
The care home is still, of course, under No Visits From Non-Staff limitations. Which we, totally, support. I pressured DS to think what he could do...and finally he agreed to make up a card using old photographs from the family albums - he spent an hour or more on the computer making it and printing out better and better versions.
Looked lovely. I even got to use the rose sticker things I once bought for Okaasan's room decoration, but was unable to use due to the thumbs down from staff worried about sticky-things-on-walls rules.
We HOPE that a kind care home staff person will sit with Okaasan and look at the card with her, ask her questions about the photographs - prompt her to remember who these people are: "Is that your husband? Is that the son who died and you don't know about it?" (last one is a black joke...cos THEY don't know either about THAT :-)
On the way to the care home we bought some tiny cakes, and delivered it all in the Drive Thru. They will spray down the envelope and package and take it upstairs.
Families doing this kind of thing.
Thankyou for comments on earlier posts - I still can't find out why I am not allowed to comment on comments on this blog...something has changed in the setting and it's beyond my computer ability find out what...maybe I have to go onto Zoom to do that? Is this all a united-cross-platform thing now?
I WISH Okaasan's care home was more 21st century and proactive about setting up some kind of screen meeting system for families and residents. But they aren't. I guess there will be the usual photograph in a newsletter format. But no online, real time meeting. Japan is so frustrating in regard to that - a system doesn't change.
I see it in DS' response too...he doesn't think about/want to do it himself and tell the care home staff to start using it with his mother - he doesn't want to give them extra work, be different, force a situation...
His thinking is that as there are 15-20 residents on that floor of the care home, if EVERY family started putting in electronic gadgets for communication and asking the staff to wheel the elderly in front of the screen at the necessary time...then it would really be troublesome and disturb their routine of mealtimes/medicines/physical therapy/cleaning/bedding changes/report writing.
Better to let the system, however bad it is, to plod on in its way. To accept a bad situation.
I can imagine in the UK or America, maybe many other cultures in fact, the families would be agitating for online communication - either telling the care home to set up a central system, or sending in iPads by the truckload to ensure direct communication with their particular elderly.
But not in Japan.
Okaasan hasn't been off the care home premises since November 2019. Apart from wheelchair visits 3 meters outside the snowy door of the home for fresh air, she hasn't been outside for SIX months.
Just writing that now. Makes me shocked.
Is that true? Did we take her out in the car this winter? We must have done???
Even in normal times she wouldn't have been out much, only from the care home door to breath fresh air...or a struggle to get her into the car and then we'd have driven her somewhere to be inside. A covered shopping center. I guess we did that?
But, if the weather was okay enough...by March we'd have taken the wheelchair beyond 3 meters and got her OUT. Somewhere.
Not in 2020.
Last night I talked to a UK friend and heard about two of her friends, whose mothers had died last week - sad, sad tales of last conversations by screen from a Covid-19 isolation bed and midnight drive across country for a final meeting. My friend herself recently travelled to Spain where her mother was dieing (not Covid) and it was a trip involving official letters of permission-to-travel, airport interviews and endless health checks. It was a depressing conversation, made me realise that the Covid-19 experience here in Japan is SO different. So free.
I don't know WHY Japan doesn't have the awful situation of many parts of the world. They aren't testing at all at the rates of other countries. But, even so, there aren't cold storage trucks parked outside hospitals and mass graves.
We can walk and shop....work (mostly)...home school...
New case numbers in my part of Japan (vast Hokkaido population 5 million) are down to under 10 a day now. In Japan it is 70 new cases and in Tokyo (9 million people) 22 new cases.....
If the numbers stay so low here in Hokkaido, I expect local government will relax restrictions later this week. Allow businesses to open again. Schools next month.
But. Care homes? When will they/we feel that is a safe thing to do? So many of the deaths are among the elderly. When will come the time when we can, happily, go and meet Okaasan again - laugh with her, hold her hands, sing karaoke, share rice balls?