The past three weeks have been unlike any that I’ve experienced before. My parents live in a retirement community in Western Massachusetts. Before COVID-19, I would fly up for a couple of days and see them often. I flew up in March for my mom’s birthday, and we had a great party with 14 people! My dad’s birthday is one week later, and by that time everything had shut down. No one was allowed in. That’s how quickly things changed.
I’m the youngest of three daughters. My sisters both live in the north, one in Massachusetts and the other in New York State. When things started to slowly open back up, my sisters were both allowed to visit our parents. They live in states where things are more under control. There were regulations set in place for visits to the retirement community, but at least they were able to see our parents. The same was not true for me. My being able to see our parents wasn’t as simple as making a phone call to make an appointment where they’re living.
In the early days of COVID-19, Massachusetts was hit hard. The state also took it seriously, and put regulations in place to stop the spread. Those efforts worked well. In the part of the state where I grew up, the numbers remained low all along. In the community where my parents live there was not one case, which is incredible in a high risk community. I will forever be grateful for the efforts that were made to keep everyone safe and healthy, even if it meant that I had to stay away.
In the middle of the summer, the numbers here in Florida soared. I knew that I couldn’t even consider visiting. Even if I was able to self-quarantine for two weeks, I worried about what would happen if I had been infected. I would be totally alone, and the idea that I could be sick with a deadly virus all by myself scared me.
When the numbers in Florida started to improve, I started to think about what it would take to see my parents. If you travel to Massachusetts from a high risk state, you need to register. One of the options is to take a COVID-19 test up to 72 hours before entering the state. If you don’t, you will need to self-quarantine for two weeks. The retirement community let everyone know that if someone traveled from a high risk state that they would still need to stay away for two weeks, even with a negative test. I had a place where I could stay, so we started to put together a plan.
I wanted to drive, because I knew that I would have a lot that I would want to bring with me. I also didn’t want to have to rent a car while I was there. My daughter suggested that she drive up with me, and then she would fly back home after a couple of days. Then when it was time to drive back to Florida, she would fly up and then we’d drive back together. A drive of over 1,000 miles by myself wasn’t something that I really wanted to do, so I agreed to her idea.
We left in the early morning hours on Monday, September 21. We decided to drive straight through. We were on a tight schedule, because we needed to get into the state before the 72 hours from our COVID-19 test had passed. It’s a long, long drive, but we made it without any problems. The leaves were just starting to turn, which is something that I miss here in Florida. We had the results from our tests back in time, so we were able to fill out the state forms that we had met its requirement.
After my daughter left things were so quiet! I grew up in a small town, and it’s such a different pace than living a few miles from Walt Disney World. The weather was close to perfect most days, and I did a lot of walking. I enjoyed watching the subtle changes in the leaves each day.
When the two weeks were up, I finally got to see my parents. They were so surprised! They had no idea that I was in town. (I had talked to them several times, and I let them think that I was calling from Florida.) Overall the trip took almost three weeks, between travel, self-quarantine, and spending a few days with them. After my last visit I picked up my daughter at the airport. Sadly, she couldn’t see them, but we waved from the window. The next morning, we started the drive home. We stopped overnight on the way back because we weren’t in as big a hurry.
The reason I’m telling you this is because I want to let you know that travel is possible these days. You just need to be careful and take extra precautions. If we all do our part, we can get back to some semblance of normal. This trip was something that I needed, and being able to hug my parents was the most wonderful feeling in the world. If a trip is something that you need (whether to Walt Disney World or somewhere else), you might be able to make it happen.