Mandatory masks has caused a division of opinion and increased hostility by the anti-mask movement. (Western News file photo)

OPINION: ‘I wear a mask for people like this daughter who hasn’t seen her mom since February’

‘Her story broke me…maybe because I had just watched protesters laughing in their unmasked revelry’

Penticton resident Sue (we’ve left her last name out) works at a local pharmacy near Cherry Lane mall where she wears a mask everyday, sanitizes between customers and adheres to the ever-changing safety protocols. At the pharmacy she hears emotional stories of customers who are isolated and lonely and others who haven’t seen their loved ones for months. But on Sunday, Nov. 22, at the same time an anti-mask/anti restrictions protest came to town, she had a conversation with a woman that was so heart wrenching, she took to social media to explain why she will always wear a mask:

So this happened on Sunday, Nov. 22.

I went outside for my break on Sunday morning and watched a group of approximately 100 “anti-mask protesters” on Main Street, who drove down from Kelowna to enlighten us on COVID-19.

I work in a pharmacy, and my next customer was a woman about my age (58). She was picking up her prescriptions, and one of the medications she needed had not been filled [yet].

I told her we could have it done in 10 minutes and asked if she would like to wait for it, or come back later?

She wanted to wait, as she was trying her best to limit the time out in public.

We started a conversation as she was waiting, and I asked her how she was making out with our second wave of COVID-19?

She looked at me, started to say something, and BURST INTO TEARS!!!

I stood there frozen, not knowing what to say, and feeling terrible that my question had caused this painful reaction for her.

I could tell she was as shocked by her tears, as I was!

She kept apologizing, as I tried to reassure her it was OK, and that I was there to listen and help in any way I could.

When she was able to speak, she told me how she was doing everything she possibly could to do her part in combating COVID-19.

She wore her mask everywhere. She only goes out when absolutely necessary. She practices social distancing, and doesn’t even see her friends. She is constantly using sanitizer, to the point where her hands are raw.

This sounded like what most of us are doing, but I knew there was more to her tears than the frustration we are all feeling with COVID-19 and how it has affected our lives.

And then she told me her story, and I felt every emotion her words held …

This woman who still had tears in her eyes, has NOT been able to see her Mother since FEBRUARY!

Her Mom is 90 years old, and in a care home in town, but they only allow one family member to have contact. This is standard practice for most care homes.

Her mother had a slight case of dementia in February, that has dramatically increased without the daily interactions of all her children and grandchildren.

The woman used to talk to her Mom all the time on the phone, but in the last seven months the conversations have dwindled.

Her Mom no longer understands how to use a phone.

Listening to this daughter and the pain in her voice was utterly HEARTBREAKING!

As she took her other prescription and we said our goodbyes, I was the one left with tears streaming down my cheeks.

I have heard so MANY stories like this during COVID-19, I can’t even remember them all … But today, this daughter’s story broke me.

Maybe, it was because within a half hour, I watched the protesters smirking, laughing and enjoying their unmasked, non-social distancing revelry, as they paraded through the streets.

Only to come back into work and listen to this woman’s horrific story.

My post is not to argue for or against any of the theories or opinions related to Covid-19.

To be honest, at the present time, it’s all I can do to put one foot in front of the other and keep up with the workload, continual sanitizing, policy changes, government mandates, and utter exhaustion 2020 has caused.

I however, WILL CONTINUE TO WEAR MY MASK.

“Not” because I am mandated to, but because of the heartwrenching stories like this daughter told me today who hasn’t seen her Mother since February.

If there is even a “1 in a million” possibility that by wearing a mask, I can prevent transmitting a cold, the flu, or even Covid-19 to anyone then I will GLADLY and PROUDLY wear my MASK!