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‘You may worry about Christmas – I’m scared I’ll never see my mum again’

Written by on 07/11/2020

The big question on the lips of the country appears to be “what will Christmas be like this year?” and that’s entirely understandable as 2020 has been a long haul.

But I have a more alarming thought dominating my mind: Will I ever see my mum again?

She’s 90, has advanced dementia and lives in a care home, so in a world ravaged by coronavirus she’s not holding a very strong hand of cards.

However the biggest worry I have is that I just can’t get to see her and – for the foreseeable future – that will be the case whatever fate may throw at her.

We’ve all seen the trauma of families separated and lonely deaths earlier in the year and the thought “there but for the grace of God” was in my mind at the time, but faded as the first wave receded.

Mum’s lucky as she’s in a care home with diligent staff and is one of those which avoided coronavirus when the illness swept through many Barnsley care homes with devastating consequences.

Muriel Whitehouse

That’s the reason I didn’t mind a ban on visits. If I, and others like me, were not going in and out, the risk of spreading the disease had to be reduced.

So I was happy to see her at a distance on her 90th birthday, however wrong that felt instinctively.

Now the virus is raging through society at a seemingly faster pace than previously, the threat to her and everyone else in similar circumstances, is more real than ever.

If the worst was to happen, I know it would not be the fault of the care home.

I do have some nagging thoughts about the root of the blame, however. No-one seems to have the perfect answer; sophisticated countries like France and Germany are suffering a second wave, there’s no certainty Sweden’s alternative approach is a good idea and America? Better just to avoid that topic.

Some countries have been able to get it right, like New Zealand and some in the Far East, when the simple tactic of locking down until the virus has gone seems to have been highly effective.

We were well on that road after enduring the pain of the Spring lockdown.

Until Dominic Cummings drove the length of the country, that is. Lockdown measures were eased surprisingly quickly as the outrage grew, which seemed like a sop to the country from Boris Johnson to save his assistant.

I was worried it would rebound – check my Twitter output – and it seems it has.

The trouble is, when (many) people see the rule-makers breaking them, they don’t see the need to bother doing so either, especially when they’re fed up with the restrictions.

Although the authorities have been largely polite about public compliance, my experience is rather different. I went to one of the more successful out of town shopping centres on Saturday, found the car park busy and in one large store found so many shoppers it would have been impossible to follow social distancing in the isles.

But even at the tills, where queues were guided by floor strips, no-one was paying much attention.

And of course, some shoppers also think masks work if they’re pulled down to the chin.

The situation is being recognised, with Doncaster’s director of public health stating last week that some people were not following the rules and Barnsley Council openly criticising those using parks in the town for meeting in large groups.

So will the public go back to toeing the government line now? I doubt it.

Which leaves the prospects looking bleak for people like my mum.

I’d love to say that while most people would probably relish the thought of a turkey dinner with the family on December 25, I’d like to be able to just hold mum’s hand for ten minutes.

That isn’t especially true, though. I’d happily forgo Christmas for the prospect of seeing her again – anytime. Particularly if she’s in a position where she needs the comfort of her family.