Sister Editha Ben: the blessings of sheltering in place in the Philippines
Providence works wonders.
Before I traveled to the Philippines at the end of February, I had always wanted to be able to stay longer with my 98-year-old mother (who is very well cared for by three full-time caregivers.) But because of other commitments, I could only stay for a 27-day visit. Now, because of COVID-19, flights have been canceled, airports are locked down and quarantine is imposed. And so, I have remained in the Philippines with my mother longer than planned.
At the beginning of this pandemic, I felt stress from the uncertainties and worried about the health of my mom. But I have observed all the necessary precautions and accepted the reality of sheltering in place. I surely miss my Sisters of Providence community, but social media has connected me with our sisters, my family in California and friends I had not heard from recently.
These past days have been like an extended retreat — more time to reflect and pray, read and journal and listen to TED Talks.
Applying what I’ve learned
Most especially I enjoy being with my mother. And I am able to apply with her what I have learned at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods about how to care for the elderly. Our Sisters of Providence HOME team (Helping Ourselves Meaningfully Engage) has offered educational opportunities on how the brain changes, on exercising empathy and how to converse with those living with cognitive challenges, on music therapy and other ways to respond to their spiritual and physical needs.
It has been many years since my mother last played the harmonica, which she enjoyed in her younger years and used to entertain us, her children. Recently she was motivated to make some melodic sounds on the harmonica. And for the first time in many years, she joined me and the caregivers in singing two Ilocano (native language) songs. To my delight she could remember the songs.
What a special blessing to be with my Mom for 51 days and counting!