Aloha is…. when staying separated keeps us connected.
Because I still use a Connecticut cell phone number, I received today's update from the mayor in my hometown of New Milford where my family still lives. In his text, he said there are now 33 cases of coronavirus. On March 19, there was one.
Naturally, I grew concerned for my parents who are both in their seventies. My mother is a diabetic and my father currently has allergies, but the doctor gave him something for it, so he feels better now. He only goes shopping during the early morning senior citizen hour and only visits with my grandmother, who is now 95 years old. While she is in good health, she does have some minor respiratory issues. It doesn’t take much for her to run out of breath although she doesn’t require the use of an inhaler or other device. She says the only time she goes outdoors is to walk to her mailbox, which is located across the front lawn.
With the mayor's update, today was the first day I felt really uneasy. My mother insisted on going to my brother’s house to bring my niece a homemade birthday cake per her request. Not even an earthquake or zombie apocalypse could keep Lola away. Nor could a tornado keep her from fulfilling her grandmotherly duties of making her first granddaughter a cake for her 12th birthday. While I’m happy that they can be together for a joyous occasion, I couldn’t help but be somewhat concerned.
Meanwhile in San Diego, as of the weekend, county officials have extended public health orders for working and studying from home indefinitely, keeping all nonessential businesses closed. Because my husband is deemed “essential,” he is still working in the public where he could be putting himself in danger of this deadly disease every day. You see, he installs, repairs and maintains automatic doors for a living. He services doors for the airport, hotels, stores, senior living communities, hospitals, psychiatric wards, bomb shelters and, occasionally, luxury homes all over the county. He already had a good practice for sanitizing all day, but now he is undressing in the garage, placing his clothes directly into the washing machine and taking a hot shower before coming into contact with us in hopes of protecting our family.
I wish he could stay home. I wish we didn’t need the money. I wish he could take a month off and sit this thing out.
While I'm at it, let's worry about all my healthcare friends working in senior living communities and hospitals. What about them? How long are their hours? Are they taking care of themselves? How safe are they? Do they get to see their families? From Elton John's celebrity fundraising program I saw over the weekend, this workforce is being driven into the ground. My heart broke hearing how tired and isolated they were; how they were running out of equipment and some how some of them were losing hope themselves. They are not only exhausted, but they are in the eye of the storm every single day.
Is this what life has come to? Has it really come to being concerned over every single move we make, not knowing if or when Covid-19 will strike again? Was I really going to beg my mother to stay home and not see her granddaughter on her birthday? Would keeping my husband home achieve anything?
As The Aloha Guru, my passion is to help bring people together, help them feel connected, help them feel like they belong and help them feel like they matter. And yet, for the first time, I’m starting to think maybe everyone should just stay home where they could be safe and sound while we wait this monster out. But not everyone has that ability. Sigh.
I'm so frustrated. Maybe I’m getting cabin fever. Maybe I’m getting impatient. Maybe I can admit that even I can get scared.
But, just as I was feeling the weight of concern on my shoulders getting heavier, I sat down to watch five minutes of the morning news. And, for the first time, the news offered me relief from my worries.
Today on the local news, I learned that a commercial real estate landlord didn’t just defer rent payments; he waived rent for April.
“A simple act of kindness in whatever way you can give it,” was his response when asked why he waived the rent for all 17 of his tenants with businesses located along the strip of Solana Beach, California.
I watched his interview and the interviews of a few of the affected business owners who wept in gratitude for his kindness and compassion. One tenant said waiving one month's rent gives her and her business a chance to survive now, as she has no other way of bringing in income.
This guy has the aloha spirit and he chose to share it and spread it in the world to make it a better place. I know those tenants will never forget his kind gesture. I believe they’ll never forget that, above all else, humanity is still alive and well because we are connected.
Logic tells me that if this landlord didn’t waive his rent and these businesses closed from financial ruin, he might not make any money anyway. He might very well be looking at empty buildings with no one able to rent for a long time. Who knows? So, why not pay with kindness instead?
No matter where we turn; no matter where we live; no matter whom we know; we may be separated, but we are connected. What happens to one of us happens to all of us. When we hear bad news, we can all feel bad. But when we hear good news, we can all feel good, too.
I was practically in tears right along with this woman weeping over her landlord’s kind gesture. I am rooting for her and the other 16 other tenants this landlord oversees. But now, I am rooting for him, too.
We all want to win, but we should all be rooting for each other to win as well.
Listen, we are all going to take some kind of hit this year. So, let's just make the most of it.
Stay separated, but stay connected, my Pineapples!