Dear Fellow Progressives:
On March 11, less than two weeks after we moved my mother into assisted-care housing for the elderly, the facility shut its doors to visitors. I had just been there the weekend before. She’s 96.
This has been a rough transition for my mother. She had loved her old apartment, in another part of the same facility in New Berlin, Wisconsin. But she wasn’t able to take care of herself anymore, even with daily visits from my sister, who lives nearby.
My mom knew she had to move, but when she got to her new place she was confused, even heartbroken. It was the only time in the six decades I’ve known her that she didn’t say she was doing fine. “I’m lost,” she told me.
My sister and I were helping her get through this. And then they shut the doors. Now she’s all alone. Her meals are brought to her room. No one but staff are allowed to see her.
Our connection with mom is now by phone. My sister and I call her every day, at least once. I’ve talked to her about the coronavirus, about how it has affected the whole world. About how people are taking measures now to try to slow the spread of the virus so it doesn’t overrun the capabilities of the health-care system. I tell her it’s older people who are the most vulnerable, which is why her facility is doing everything it can to keep her safe.
I tell her about my job at The Progressive, how much of the magazine’s April/May issue was already written, edited, and even laid out on pages just as the coronavirus kicked into overdrive. By working through the weekend and into each night, we went back and rewrote nearly every piece in the package, in the space of six days.
It so happened that the issue was already focused on poverty, income inequality, and lack of access to health care—all of which have gained urgency in the current crisis. It feels to me like our April/May magazine will be among the most important in The Progressive’s 111-year history. We are putting the finishing touches on it now, while also keeping up a vigorous pace producing daily COVID-19 coverage for our website.
We’re all sorry, after doing so much in just the final days of magazine production, that the April/May issue itself won’t reach readers until about three weeks after we go to press. That’s how it works given our U.S. mail class. Sending the issue First Class would cost about $28,000, a vast sum for an operation like ours.
The Progressive, to be honest, is struggling. Despite some generous large gifts at the end of last year, we are in a precarious place, with ongoing debt and pressures coming from many directions. The pandemic crisis has presented us with vast new challenges.
I don’t tell my mother any of that. She has enough to deal with.
But I can report that my mom—like people all over the country, all over the world—seems to be rising to the occasion. It’s hard for her to understand what’s going on. (Yesterday, she said, she watched the President on TV; that certainly won’t help.) But she does seem to grasp that this is a worldwide problem and that people are working to fix it.
My mom has started to again tell me she’s doing fine. I know it’s not completely true. But she’s doing her part, as is everyone. What can we do, each of us, except the things we have come to regard as important? What The Progressive does is important.
If you can help us out, that would be appreciated.
Bill Lueders, editor
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