Rev. Dr. Cynthia Huling Hummel is a pastor, artist, and an advocate for those who, like herself, are living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Huling Hummel is sheltering in the upstate New York home. Though she is living by herself, she has found creative ways to stay connected.
WAM: You are living alone with Alzheimer’s, a challenge for anyone in your situation. Now you’re sheltered in place and further isolated. How are you doing?
Cythia Huling Hummel: Truthfully, I feel like I’m living in an apocalyptic movie. It is scary and surreal. But really, I’m doing fine, better than expected, given the circumstances: a world wide pandemic, my living alone with AD and having to hunker down for the long haul.
WAM: What are you doing to stay connected to the world?
Hummel: The New York advisory to shelter in place brings new challenges. It is a lonely time and I miss seeing people in person. Most of all, I miss the hugs and handshakes. Those times seem so very far away and I wonder if they will they ever return. But in spite of this pandemonium, I honestly feel so blessed because of the many different ways we can all stay connected! I can chat with my family and friends on Facetime! I can see what folks are up to on Facebook. I can make phone calls, send emails, and even conference by Zoom. Yesterday, I received a handwritten letter in my mail box! Goodness gracious! Blessings abound.
WAM: Where have you found the positive in this experience?
Hummel: I am extra blessed because my new washing machine arrived after “old faithful” (23 years old to be exact) ran its last load and bit the dust. Yes, just days later, my new washer was delivered and installed by two great guys. I can go downstairs in my pajamas to run a load of wash. I feel so blessed because I can vividly remember the days of washing clothes in my tub and of sitting hours in the laundromat waiting for my load to finish. It helps to put things in perspective. More than ever, I am trying to focus each day on my blessings rather than on the interruptions and inconveniences to my life.More than that, I am trying to be a blessing to others by reaching out to folks and offering prayer and pastoral care by phone. I wish I could go visit folks in person, but it is far to dangerous for them and for me.
WAM: What does your day look like?
Hummel: I am sticking to a daily routine of watching the news, doing my chores, exercising (walking by myself) twice a day, etc. I also set aside time for the arts–playing my guitar and painting. I challenge my brain with puzzles and such. I’m re-writing sermons for churches that can’t hold worship due to the pandemic. And prayer.
WAM: You are a Presbyterian pastor. How are you keeping the faith?
Hummel: I am praying throughout the day for those affected by COVID19. I am praying for researchers and our leaders. I’m praying for those who are juggling the roles of parent, teacher and worker. I am praying for those who have lost jobs and who have had their hours cut. But the person on the top of my prayer list today is my band buddy, Steve, whose wife of 47 years passed away yesterday from cancer. The family can’t have calling hours or even a graveside service for Sandy. In other times, their house would be filled with friends and family bringing food and sharing stories, laughter, and tears. In other times, folks would be stopping by to pay their respects with handshakes and hugs. Folks would be circling him with love and lining up to comfort him. His house is empty, and I weep for him and others who are grieving in times of social distancing. It is hard to mourn alone.There is no substitute for a hug when your heart is broken. These are difficult times indeed. But we will get through with prayer and care.