Mother’s Day in England & honoring parents in the era of Corona

Honoring our parents is one of the most important commandments in Judaism. The sages put it on par with honoring the Divine. No matter how much we do for our mothers and fathers, it is a commandment that can never be completely fulfilled.

When we are young, it is a demand we test. What are the limits? How far can we stretch them?

As we age, the tables turn. Our parents become dependent on us and we feel an immense responsibility for their physical, financial, and emotional well-being. 

Today is Mother’s Day in Great Britain. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had a stern warning. “Don’t visit your mother. If your mother is elderly or vulnerable, then I am afraid all the statistics show that she is more likely to die of Coronovirus.”

Of the many tears I shed over Corona, some are for my own elderly mother and for the elderly “parents” of our community. My mom is ok and, thank God, she is not sick. Yet despite being blessed with an abundance of children and grandchildren, the risk is too great for visits and she is alone. I can see it on her blurry Alexa Show which allows me to “drop in” every day. I can feel it on the other end of the phone. My mom is far too dignified to admit it.

The collective elderly “parents” of our community are shut in. Many do not know how to access the internet and the virtual world that is sustaining those who are younger.  They are genuinely socially distant. One senior described it as “solitary confinement with amenities.”

In Judaism, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are meant to be every day. In battling Corona, if we have kids, we can hug them. Our parents we cannot.

There are so simple things we can do to cast light in the days of the elderly we know. We can make a call — hearing more voices and having more social contacts lifts spirits. We can write notes (washing our hands first). Seniors appreciate the art of letter writing. We can send photos for them to enjoy. We can ask our kids to call the seniors they know. Youth inspires. Flowers and food can be delivered.

Most of all, we can maintain social distancing, so that this virus can speedily pass and the hugs with our parents and other seniors can become real again.

Photo by Cristian Newman. Day 9 of social distancing.

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