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Waters on 50th resident: ‘It’s unbelievable that it’s been a year’

March 10, 2021

This community reporting project documents the coronavirus pandemic by recording the personal stories of Minneapolis residents and workers whose daily lives are in a state of flux. All interviews are conducted over the phone, and conversations are edited for length and clarity.

Arminta and Ron Miller, residents, The Waters on 50th senior living community

Arminta: It’s really opening up here now that everyone’s vaccinated. 

We’ve been having more gatherings. They’ve got some TED Talks going. They’ve opened up the movie theater on Saturdays; we haven’t seen any films but we went in to get a hand massage. On Monday, we tested Girl Scout cookies and we could be four at a table. We talked about the Dr. Seuss books being canceled and about Prince Harry and Meghan. Next week we’ll have our first happy hour. 

Ron: They brought bridge back. And a lot of violin players, harp people and piano players are coming in.

Arminta: There are no choirs or choruses where people are singing, but anything solo is allowed. Now that they’ve opened up bridge, I think we can play the board games, like Scrabble and Qwirkle, we used to play on the weekends. 

Ron can start up cribbage again, though the people who were involved in it before the pandemic have kind of gone by the wayside.

Ron: They’re no longer with us. 

Arminta: Ron would peg for them even if they could no longer see. You have to check, Ron, how many would be interested now. Maybe some new people. … We’ve had two new people move in within the past week. 

They still haven’t let our writing group start again and we still don’t have our book club. And we still have to wear our masks when we’re walking around. But everybody’s just been so happy to see each other. 

Ron: We’re happy that we’re not confined to our rooms.

Arminta: We can have visitors now. It can only be for 20 minutes at a time and has to be in a special room with the windows open. But that’s the first step. 

Ron: Come springtime, we’ll be able to have visitors in our room.

Arminta: Yes, that’s the next step. Our daughters do want to visit, but we can’t hug each other, so we’re waiting. It will be nice when they can come into our room. 

My oldest daughter is 50 years old but doesn’t have any preconditions, so she probably won’t be vaccinated until late April or May.

Ron: We’re still only going outside to the doctor, dentist, grocery store and drugstore. 

Arminta: But Ron sat outdoors yesterday and said it was so nice. A lot of people have been out sitting on their walkers because it’s warm and it’s good to get the fresh air. 

It’s unbelievable that it’s been a year since the start of all this. We’re hanging in pretty well, but we’ve talked to a couple of people who’ve gotten really down. Usually they’re bubbly and outgoing, and now they’re just kind of withdrawn. It’s been very hard, especially on single people. I have Ron to keep me amused. 

We’ve put the cardboard cutout of Ron that his kids gave him for his 80th birthday in the hallway outside our door, and people have stopped by to discuss it. It’s really cute. He’s young and thin in the photo, and he loves it. 

Ron: They all ask, “And what happened to you?”

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