Staff members began excitedly telling the man in the wheelchair that his family members were coming around the corner. The thin man with the red T-shirt held both hands in the air, waving them, and smiling big as the car passed by with those inside waving back at him and shouting hello to him.

Another man in a wheelchair slowly waved as a van passed by with a young girl in braids holding a hand-made sign that said “We love Pop” out of the window. A young boy had his head sticking out of the sunroof and was waving at Pop. The elderly man continued waving and said, “Don’t fall out of that thing,” to his grandchildren.

A truck followed the van with a man in woman in the back, waving and smiling at their father. Their signs said, “Stay safe! You are loved and prayed for” and “We love our Daddy.”

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one with tears in their eyes as I stood in the parking lot of Hill Haven Nursing Home as a Parking Lot Parade was held for the residents, who haven’t seen their families since concerns about COVID-19 shut the doors of hospitals and nursing homes across the state.

The parade was a great opportunity for the residents to see their families, even if it was from a distance. The residents lined the parking lot as their families drove by, many with signs and balloons showing their love.

The parade also featured public safety and law enforcement vehicles and it was great for these local heroes to take the time to bring a smile to the face of the residents of this local nursing home. As I said, lots of tears and smiles that afternoon in Commerce as residents of Jackson and Banks counties shared this special event.

I’m sure there hasn’t been many people who have not been impacted by COVID-19. While it may not have been directly through being sick or knowing someone sick, there have been so many ripples throughout communities across the country. As I stood in that parking lot last week, I had no idea a few days later I would be watching as my mother was taken by ambulance to a hospital and I would not be able to have any contact with her as she was being treated. She does not have COVID-19, she has been tested two times, but she did test positive for pneumonia. She is still in the hospital as I write this Tuesday morning and we have not been able to see her. This is just one impact of this virus that has changed the way the world operates.

It’s become the norm to see people wearing masks and gloves in public. Most everyone I know has felt the financial impact of the shut-downs due to the coronavirus. Our graduating seniors, including my nephew, are missing out on the traditions that make memories that we all treasure in our lives.

It is a challenging time but it’s also a time that has brought communities together, like it did at the Parking Lot Parade last week in Commerce. It’s events like this that give me hope and make me appreciate the small town that I grew up in and continue to call home.

Angela Gary is an editor with MainStreet Newspapers Inc. She can be reached at angela@mainstreetnews.com.

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