Oristano, back to normal: the beauty of a hug after two years of solitude

A day at the Franciscan oasis which welcomes families of elderly people

ORISTANO. Transparent but divisive. But now, this glass which for two years has united and separated them at the same time is as if it had broken. Since May 1, the embrace is no longer separated by barriers or virtual through useful video calls or small films. It’s a real hug. You can finally wait and shake hands. It’s morning and Paola Atzori has just arrived at the Franciscan Oasis, an assisted care residence via Michele Pira in Oristano. She sits on the veranda and removes the mask from her mother Lina Fara, 91 years old and a guest since September 2012. He takes her in his arms and talks to her, but the two years of isolation for covid got the better of her, in addition to the contact, also an integral part of the memory of his mother: “When it all started, in March 2020, he was fine. Today, she does not walk and, after being infected and hospitalized, she no longer recognizes me. She smiled at everyone but me, but now we’re here together again and I’m cuddling her.”

The thought is then focused on the two years that have just passed. “For months, the first few months, we couldn’t enter the establishment, except in the summer. Then the Franciscan Oasis, which has always been very concerned about protecting our loved ones, found an alternative and opened up to visits. We saw our mother through the window, but it wasn’t the same. She didn’t recognize us and when she turned ninety she threw the party without us being there, we greeted her with a video. We had to settle down, but that’s already a lot because there was always the fear that he would go away without being able to say goodbye to her one last time. Others have lost their families and have not been able to watch over them”.

There are those, like Mrs. Maria Antonietta Villanucci, who arrived at the Oasis in January 2021, after losing her husband Antonello to covid: “The impact has not been easy. I came here at a difficult time. It was ugly without parents, without being able to go out even to go to the cemetery or do some small shopping. We saw each other through the window, but he didn’t feel well. Then there is a lot of physical closeness and we still carry the signs of this pandemic within us. It is not easy to overcome these two years and it is even more difficult for those who, like me, have lost a loved one, fallen ill in turn and suffered isolation. It was lucky to find a space here: we are inside the city and now we feel part of it again. Structures like these are designed as the antechamber of the cemetery, but that is a mistake. It is not a good cultural model that considers nursing homes as isolated places where the end is expected”.

In fact, being in the community for those two years was not always a disadvantage. Rita Massa, a retired professor of classical literature, points out: “Here there is company and assistance. At such a time, it was better than being isolated and alone in your own home. If there is sharing, some moments are overcome with a better spirit. For example, I started to collaborate with L’Arborense, the weekly of the curia, and then there were many moments of animation organized by the operators. Ours is a very active microcosm. When visits were allowed again, my sister came to see me. We didn’t say anything in particular, it was spontaneous.

Then there was a special moment, the one which, thanks to an internship, put the guests in contact with the boys of the professional institute. It is again Rita Massa who recounts this experience: “The contact with these young people was very deep, it allowed us to get to know each other. It was a mutual enrichment: we gave our experience, they gave them liveliness and attention. Villaurbana’s Veronica Lai is on the threshold of a hundred. She is 98 years old and has only one son: “Marcello always comes to visit me. We finally saw each other in the room without the glass in between. For a long time he was on one side and I was on the other. He was satisfied, me less because I only have one child” and that glass has not always been a window on the world. It was also a barrier.

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