Bingo in the age of COVID-19


WHO SAYS you can’t play cross-country Bingo? (Shutterstock).

The coronavirus pandemic has positively impacted my relationship with my mom in ways I did not expect. She lives in Florida, approximately 2,500 miles away from me, and despite the distance, I believe we have become closer during this unprecedented time in our lives, a time that neither of us ever thought we would ever experience.

Like many older adults, my mom has some underlying health issues and this, coupled with loneliness and boredom, has my concern for her on High Alert.

My mom is a recently retired nurse and since retirement, she has been living a busy life consisting of socializing with friends and family and playing games like Bingo, Mahjong, and various card and dice games.

So, when the coronavirus hit and the Governor of Florida issued the “Stay at Home” order, the life that my mom was living had come to a screeching halt. Suddenly she was unable to live the life she had become accustomed to and because of this, she found herself lonely and bored.

Let’s face it, being quarantined leaves one with an abundance of time, so with nothing but time on my hands, I started walking every morning to get fresh air and a bit of exercise. Truth be told, being in quarantine was adding uninvited weight gain that I needed to control.

One day, while walking, I decided to call my mom to see if she wanted to talk. I did not expect her to walk as well but to my surprise, she put on her walking shoes and ventured outside in the 85-degree heat to ‘walk’ and talk with me. Ever since then, we walk and talk daily.

In the beginning, this pandemic was the hot topic of our conversation; comparing numbers, governors’ actions, masks, hygiene, etc., but as the weeks went by, I could sense my mom’s increasing desire to return to her life of socializing and game playing.

I could tell that our talks, while enjoyable, were no substitute for a game of cards with her friends. That is when I started thinking about ways to help my mom from afar. I remembered that I had a Bingo set lying around the house and wondered, could my family, who are scattered across the states, play Bingo through Zoom? I suggested this to my mom, and she was ecstatic and could not wait!

So, I dusted off my Bingo set, scanned all the cards, created individual pdf files, emailed the cards to my family members, and scheduled our first Zoom Bingo session. We were all ready to go!

Our first Family Zoom Bingo event was a success and mom could not wait for the next game, only this time, she wanted to invite some of her friends to play; and we have had many fun Bingo gatherings since.

As Florida started to reopen, my mom started getting anxious to get out, so with mask in hand, she started grocery shopping, visiting with family, going to doctor appointments and she even joined a group of friends to play Mahjong.

Imagine my surprise to hear that my mom went to play Mahjong with a group other than her immediate family? I was horrified that she would risk her health to gather with friends just to play games and socialize! I was not happy with her decision! I explained to her that I was concerned for her health and I did not want her to be a COVID-19 statistic. Could I have damaged our relationship? Will she continue to tell me the truth? Why would she risk her life with the possibility of contracting this horrific virus?

What was I missing? We were talking every day and even playing Bingo weekly, why wasn’t that enough? I finally realized that despite the risk, my mom needs to be physically surrounded by family and friends. I cannot ask her to change who she is nor can I ask her to give up the very thing for which she lives, companionship.

I still cherish our daily walks and the honesty that my mom and I share, and, in the end, I respect my mom’s decision. I can only hope that she takes every precaution to protect herself during her visits. Because, it’s her companionship that I am not willing to give up.

“Am’s View,” by Andrea Palladino Perez, is posted on alternate Sundays.

Categories: Opinion

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