Elizabeth Hole

Oberlin College Library


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00:00:00 - Moving to Kendal to join another Quaker community

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: First, would you be able to tell me how you came to live at Kendal at Oberlin and why you chose Kendal?

Resident: Well, I’m a Quaker, and my daughter was at uhh went to Oberlin at the time Kendal was opening and was talking about how nice it was. And my parents had retired to the…they were the first generation at the first Kendal near Philadelphia. And so I think we always thought some kind of community like this would be good. But we were looking for something closer to West Virginia where we were living at the time.

Caroline: Nice.

Resident: So we came and visited and it felt like home. Cuz both of us went to Quaker high schools and colleges. So it was just another Quaker community.

Segment Synopsis: This resident and her husband considered moving to Kendal because they are Quaker and their daughter went to Oberlin College. They enjoyed growing up in other Quaker communities, so Kendal immediately felt like home.

Keywords: Daughter; Home; Oberlin College; Parents; Quaker

Subjects: Community; Family; Moving

00:00:58 - Well-informed during the first days of the pandemic

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: Umm okay so moving to our pandemic questions, thinking back to the very first days of Covid-19, umm what your first reactions to everything that was going on? And what were your anticipations of the future?

Resident: At the time, my husband was a doctor, and so I knew I could trust that he would sort through the information and that I would have accurate information to work from. And so that was reassuring and…but also because he had had cancer and so forth, I knew that it was really important to protect him from Covid. So, but then mainly it was just that I was going to do what he suggested and he thought was safe. So I wasn’t having to decide anything much for myself. Does that make sense? I was just going to go with whatever he came up with.

Caroline: Yeah, and did you feel like the information that your husband was getting was I guess more accurate than maybe what the rest of us were getting?

Resident: Yeah, partly because he was on Kendal’s umm medical information board. So that he was researching not just sort of for us but what was good medical policy for Kendal to follow.

Segment Synopsis: This resident's husband was a doctor, so she remained well-informed about the virus during the first days of the pandemic. On the other hand, her husband's cancer made it extremely important for them to stay safe.

Keywords: Cancer; Decision-making; Husband; Information; Medical Policy; Protections; Reassuring

Subjects: Family; First Reactions; Physical Health; Safety

00:02:36 - Lockdown as a form of retreat: Reflecting on what comes next after the loss of a spouse

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: So if you could describe your experience during the pandemic in one word, what word would you choose?

Resident: [long pause] Well, for me, it’s…it was more of a retreat? Uhh because Bill died then in the first year and so I had the isolation and the opportunity to really stop and think about who I am. And to…because I had you know…I got married in college. And so I’ve sort of, always you know, been with family of one form or another with responsibilities to other people. And this was a wonderful opportunity to sort through things. Get rid of things. Move to a new cottage and sort of find out who I am, and what choices I make. And so I wasn’t bombarded with a lot of outside expectations. I had the time in the space to really center and reflect. And so if I say it’s a retreat, I meant more in a sense where you go on a pilgrimage…it was more of a pilgrimage. It wasn’t a running away kind of retreat, it was an opportunity to kind of stop and figure out who I was.

Caroline: That’s really cool.

Resident: More like being a sophomore in college when you start figuring out who you are.

Segment Synopsis: This resident describes the pandemic as a retreat: a time for reflection about who she is. After the death of her husband, she was without responsibilities to family and other people for the first time. The isolation of lockdown gave her the time and space to think about what she would do next.

Keywords: Choices; Clearing House; Death; Expectations; Opportunity; Pilgrimage; Reflect; Responsibilities; Retreat; Time and Space

Subjects: Family; Grief; Isolation; Loss; Moving; Self-Discovery

00:04:16 - Maintaining human connections during lockdown

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: Umm so what did that look like in the day-to-day, especially during the first couple of days of isolation?

Resident: Well, he was still alive for that, so I was managing things like making sure he had his medication. I was going to pick up the insulin and anything that he needed or picking up the meals, walking the dog. So I was managing all of the sort of day-to-day needs and so I was pretty busy, um doing that

Caroline: And then the day-to-day more recently?

Resident: Ahhh…well, while we were still all shut down, and there was the time after he died, there was plenty of time to sort through things mentally and physically. And then more recently, what happened was that Kendal very quickly kicked into doing a lot with Zoom. And so I was part of a group that helped organize an afternoon time when any resident could just drop in on Zoom at 4 on weekdays. We didn’t get a lot of people, but we got a few people who really needed to talk. And so also, I’m a quaker and the meeting for worship never missed a Sunday. We went straight from meeting for worship and by the time we closed down we had a Zoom meeting for worship going on Sundays. So we never stopped having…meeting for worship. And now we’re doing it by hybrid, with either Zoom or in-person. So there’s a way in which if you count Zoom as meeting and interacting. I went right on having many meetings. I’m on a committee called supporting friends, and we just went over to Hybrid. So there’s a way where I didn’t stop socially interacting. It was just all on Zoom. And then Kendal let us have bubbles fairly soon after my husband died, so there was always interaction with other people. It wasn’t–what I couldn’t do was do my usual visits in the Care Center because that was closed. But I could see people out walking and having to walk the dog got me out. So I think other people who didn’t have the technological abilities were much more isolated.

Caroline: That’s really interesting. Do you continue with the Zoom now? I mean I know we’re back in isolation, but is that something that you’ve incorporated into your life?

Resident: Umm, well that’s how I Zoom with my daughter and that also started right away that we were Zooming weekly. And we won’t be able to meet in person…I mean one teaches in Vermont and one teaches in Boston, so I don’t think we’ll ever stop using Zoom probably cuz they’re not likely to move here [chuckles].

Segment Synopsis: Before her husband died, the resident started out her pandemic lockdown by managing her husband's cancer treatment. Afterward, the lockdown gave her time to organize her life. In addition, she quickly turned to joining activities over Zoom. For instance, she helped organize a time for isolated residents to talk over Zoom. Her Quaker worship never stopped during the pandemic because it immediately transitioned to Zoom. Then, in-person interaction started again when she could go for walks with people and form a bubble. In addition, she and her two daughters continue to Zoom regularly.

Keywords: Bubbles; Care Center; Caregiving; Caretaking; Committees; Daughter; Dog; Interacting; Interaction; Managing; Meeting; Pets; Quaker Meeting; Shut Down; Sort Through Things; Walking; Worship; Zoom

Subjects: Bubbles; Communication Technology; Family; Helping Others; Isolation; New Habits; Spirituality

00:07:55 - Applying meditation to overcome personal challenges

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Partial Transcript: Resident: so my next question is, and I think maybe you’ve touched upon this, but what have been some of your greatest challenges since the start of the pandemic?

Resident: They were more my personal challenges and working through things…umm…figuring out who I was.

Caroline: And during that time, what were some of your greatest sources of support?

Resident: Ahh there is Andira Palakar who is an Indian psychologist who is the Kendal psychologist and on Monday mornings at 11 she does a half hour of centering and mediation. And just very, very wise about umm calming and centering and very much sort of Hindu and Buddhist meditation. And that was invaluable because I would tape her live Zoom presentations and then listen to them occasionally to reflect and umm think about things and center and calm.

Caroline: Hmm, that's lovely. Yeah, it seems like a throughline through many of my interviews has been spirituality of different types. So that’s really interesting.

Resident: Yeah!

Segment Synopsis: The greatest challenges this resident faced was figuring herself out after her husband passed away. One of her greatest sources of support was the meditation and reflection sessions with a psychologist at Kendal. This resident would record the sessions and then listen back to them when she needed.

Keywords: Buddhist; Calm; Calming; Centering; Hindu; Meditation; Personal Challenges; Psychologist; Reflect; Support; Zoom

Subjects: Communication Technology; Coping Mechanisms; Loss; Mental Health; New Habits; Self-Discovery; Spirituality

00:09:32 - Rules and restrictions allowed for a personal retreat

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: Umm so now thinking about Kendal as an organization, how did you…how would you describe Kendal’s pandemic response?

Resident: For me, it was just fine because I wasn’t chomping to go rushing off and I wanted the time sort of for internal pilgrimage or retreat, refocusing so it really fit me. I know that there are people, and I think frequently men, who felt very belittled or treated like third graders or that the restrictions kept them from being able to make choices that they wanted to be able to make. But I was fine because I got a chance to do what I needed to do.

Segment Synopsis: This resident didn't mind the rules and restrictions of lockdown because they gave her the alone time to go on a personal retreat. She observed that some residents, especially men, felt that their autonomy was being taken away.

Keywords: Belittled; Choice; Freedoms; Piligrimmage; Refocusing; Retreat

Subjects: Isolation; Resident Disagreement; Rules and Restrictions; Self-Discovery

00:10:30 - Residents pitched in to maintain community and social interaction

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: Definitely. And then finally before I get to the object questions, the reason why I did this project or I started doing these interviews is because there’s been a lot of talk in the news about communities of older adults during Covid-19, and I’m wondering if you had to describe to someone who’s never been in a community of older adults before, what it was like during Covid-19, how would you describe it?

Resident: Well, I think we all have tried to find ways to pitch in because that’s the kind of community Kendal is. So people helped deliver newspapers because you know the delivery people weren’t allowed on campus. We helped deliver packages. We helped deliver…I’m not sure we delivered meals so much. But we were doing things to try and help and get together as best we could. And when it was summer, you know we would meet outside and maybe share glasses of wine. But it was all…I had been here maybe 6 years before the pandemic. So I knew a lot of people and I knew that there were people of good will all around, whether I was seeing them or not. And that we were all here trying to help in ways we could. Umm and so I helped organize for instance because we couldn’t get into the care center, then I helped organize things around holidays so for Christmas umm we organized sharing of umm Hanukkah and 8 days and the prayers each day. Or I helped organize card-writing so we put out cards and people could take cards and labels of the names of people in the care center so that it was easy to write Christmas cards or holiday cards to people in the care center because there were the labels to send them through. Or we did caroling outside and around the care center. Or some people umm organized putting up holiday lights for the people in the Care Center. And then the people in the Care Center said that they really liked seeing the holiday lights, so we asked everyone who lived in a cottage that could be seen from the Care Center to put out holiday lights so that there was sort of this sharing of holiday lights. And there was just an incredible outpouring goodwill to put out that kind…to do that kind…so there’s a way in which we went on communicating in a way that if we had to live in a house on top of a mountain and if we’d been there for Covid there would’ve been a lot less social interaction. There would’ve been Zooming with my daughters but not the same kind of community interaction of people doing their best to get to you know to help each other. So I think I really benefited from being here and from being able to be part of a community that was responsive and was trying to help each other. It worked really well. And then we went on, not just the holiday cards but we discovered, you know we decided the committee I’m on decided to put out just cards and labels every other month or so so people could write cards into the care center. It was easy to do.

Segment Synopsis: This resident felt like Kendal rose to the challenge when it came to forging human connections during the pandemic. People pitched in to deliver newspapers and mail. This resident was involved with several initiatives to connect with people in the Care Center, such as a card writing program. Moreover, she helped organize special events for holidays. She assures that the socializing never stopped at Kendal.

Keywords: Card Writing; Care Center; Caroling; Communication; Gathering; Get together; Good will; Help; Holidays; Lights; Mail Delivery; Meals; Newspapers; Pitch In; Social Interaction

Subjects: Adaptations; Community; Coping Mechanisms; Helping Others; New Habits

00:14:24 - The importance of Zoom for programming at Kendal

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: Yeah, that’s so wonderful. Because you seem to have been very involved in the different programming throughout the pandemic, was there any program in particular that you would definitely do again or that you could tell made a very significant impact?

Resident: Oh, well I was also on the program committee, and at first, they shut everything down and we weren't allowed to meet in Heiser obviously. In the auditorium, we weren’t allowed to do things. And then I realized that we could Zoom movies. We could show movies by Zoom. And so we started that and then umm one of the people here who taught Shakespeare at Oberlin before she retired did ummm…she picked three versions of, maybe it was Macbeth? Anyhow for people to look at, you know, by streaming and then she had classes by Zoom on the different productions and how they were different and the choices they…the directors had made about setting or about costume or about lots of different things. So we went right on having umm evening movies or Saturday night movies and we went on having occasional classes. And by the fall, we were doing that pretty regularly. And so it’s Zoom. If we hadn’t had Zoom, it would’ve been very different.

Caroline: Yeah, totally different. Umm so I know you mentioned that you picked Zoom as your object. Obviously, that’s had a lot of positive impacts that you’ve mentioned. What was that adjustment like for starting to use Zoom?

Resident: Umm for…I know people…some people find Zoom off-putting. It doesn’t affect me that way clearly. And so, I just sort of enjoy being able to see people and talk to them that way. And umm…for me it doesn’t have a lot of downsides and for a lot of people with hearing challenges in our community, it’s been a lot easier to be able to hear by Zoom. Especially if a mask is part of the question.

Segment Synopsis: This resident contends that Zoom was essential for maintaining Kendal programming. As a member of the programming committee, they started out airing movies over Zoom. then they provide offering classes and other activities over Zoom. In fact, this resident chose Zoom as her pandemic object. She made an easy transition to meeting with people over Zoom, and she points out that Zoom can be easier for people with hearing issues.

Keywords: Adaptations; Classes; Movies; Plays; Zoom

Subjects: Communication Technology; Masks; New Habits

00:17:13 - As the pandemic remains uncertain, traveling remains difficult but other life activities resume

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Partial Transcript: Caroline: Okay, I just have one more question then. Umm I guess attitudes about this pandemic have been fluctuating back and forth between positive and pessimism and things like that, and so I’m wondering how you’re feeling right now in terms of the future of the pandemic and your own future at Kendal?

Resident: Uhh I guess my problem isn’t the future at Kendal, it’s more travel because now that I’m more independent. Bill couldn’t travel and now I can so I had a trip to Greece that would’ve happened in April postponed till September and I’m hoping to go to Montreal in Quebec in May. And Spain next winter. So it’s really–whatever happens at Kendal will happen. And I think umm I think Kendal is responding appropriately and cautiously. It doesn’t bother me, particularly that we have to follow–the people in independent living have to follow the restrictions from the people in the care center. I just–that doesn’t bother me the way it bothers other people. So I’m sure there will be ups and downs but you know that’s life. You know the harvest, the garden doesn’t always produce everything you want, you just have to live with it.

Caroline: May I ask, so if you’re going to Greece, did you have to postpone because of Covid?

Resident: Yeah, it was Rhodes scholar and they had–during the surge with the variant, umm they had so many cancellations that they couldn't put the trip on, and probably by now they could, but it had already been canceled.

Caroline: Yeah, I feel like at least in my experience, travel’s been the hardest thing because you try to plan it out a couple months beforehand.

Resident: Yeah, so that affects me and otherwise Kendal you know, there will be ups and downs. We’re not done.

Caroline: Yeah, that’s for sure. Have you been able to resume your visits to the Care Center yet?

Resident: Yeah, I get tested twice a week and I take my sheltie dog, and I go and I visit people and umm I think it’s important for them to be able to hug and scratch dogs. The tactile experience is so important when you’re in the Care Center. Umm so that’s really fun. And then I hang out in the Jameson House, which is the dementia place a couple times a week.

Caroline: Lovely, and there’s so many dog-lovers in the Jameson House and everywhere generally so it’s nice to see dogs around. All right, well that’s all my questions, so thank you for performing this interview, unless you have anything else you’d like to add.

Resident: No, not that I know of. If it’s interesting because you’ve got me thinking back about how important Zoom really was, and all of the things that were working because of Zoom and the technology and the internet and all that.

Caroline: Yeah, they still do a lot of the Zoom in the Care Center and that’s been really great. People can watch in their own rooms which is nice. Well, thank you so much.

Segment Synopsis: Now, the biggest challenge for this resident is travel. She looks forward to taking several trips in the next year, but the uncertainty of the pandemic makes it hard to plan ahead. On the other hand, she is in agreement with Kendal taking a cautious approach to maintaining rules on campus. On the other hand, the resident and her dog have been able to go back to the Care Center and visit assisted living residents.

Keywords: Acceptance; Care Center; Cautious; Dog; Independent; Postponed; Tested; Trips; Ups and Downs; Zoom

Subjects: Communication Technology; Future; Helping Others; Resident Disagreement; Rules and Restrictions; Travel