Wandering in York County

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Writing letters used to be the primary form of communication when we were separated from our loved ones. Let's get back into writing while our friends and family are stuck in quarantine. Jamie Kinsley Photo.

Adult bibs and bath bombs: Get well ideas for loved ones stuck in bed with COVID

We’re in a pandemic, and some of my friends have fallen ill. I feel helpless. 

Normally, I’d be able to visit them at the hospital or in their home. But the contagion has prevented me from spending valuable time with the people I love. 

Growing up, I practiced a mindset that has strengthened my mental health: Worrying is like a rocking chair — It gives you something to do, but you’re not going to get anywhere. Living by this mantra has helped me focus on what I can change, and compartmentalizing what I can’t. 

Others recite the Serenity Prayer seen in this ad for a charm in The Gazette and Daily, 1962.

Even though I can’t spend time with my ill friends and family, I can give them support. Normally, I’m not a huge gift giver, but it’s been one way I can send my love to those battling for their health. When thinking about what to send my loved ones, I researched York’s history to see what those in the past gave.

Gifts for hospital patients, almost 70 years ago

In 1953, The York Dispatch reported on the installation of 275 “individual pillow radios” at York Hospital. A small round speaker projected music from underneath the patients’ pillow instead of the loudspeaker that interrupted their roommates’ rest. 

For a dime, patients could listen for one hour or visitors could purchase three tokens for a quarter. Unfortunately, interference from equipment and construction materials meddled with the radio’s clarity, but that didn’t stop many from enjoying their Get Well gift. The York Dispatch, 1953.

York Hospital no longer has pillow radios, but there are other ways to send your love. 

Gift ideas

  • Bakery Boxes from Browns Farm ($37-$55). They also have packaged microwavable dinners that could be easily warmed up. 
  • This Little Light of Mine candles from Central Market ($12-$20). I went with the basil scent. 
  • Takeout from a local restaurant. I went with pho from Pho Bistro, hot sauce on the side, because it’s healthy and tastes great ($10). 
  • Wireless remote controlled outlets from Amazon ($11). This makes it easy for them to turn lights on and off without getting up. 
  • Adult bibs from Amazon ($25). They have different styles that might make your loved one laugh. 
  • Books: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho ($15). One of the most popular books ever sold, this is a journal tale that is easy to read yet full of life lessons. Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl ($15). Written by a holocaust survivor, Frankl explains how suffering can make us stronger. 
  • Bath bombs from Sunrise Soap Company ($10-$20). I also purchased their mud mask cubes that were fun to try with a friend.
  • Personalized shirts from Etsy ($25-$40). I went with an anatomy shirt for my friend, who is in nursing school.
  • You can always go with Amazon gift cards so your loved one can purchase movies or shows through Amazon Prime. 
My step dad, Robert Denoncourt, underwent open heart surgery. My brothers and I got him the bib partly out of practicality and partly to have a good laugh. Jamie Kinsley Photo.
Remote controlled electric outlets give people stuck in bed more autonomy in their own homes. Jamie Kinsley Photo.

Writing from the heart

In the winter of 1940, Donald E. Schoff of Red Lion became very ill. He was seven years old, and pneumonia had gotten a hold of his lungs. After missing a month of school, he felt lonely. 

He wrote to The Boys and Girls Newspaper, a part of The Gazette and Daily, thanking his schoolmates and teacher, Miss Strickler for sending him Valentines, cards, and gifts. He finished with: “I wish some of the members would write to me.”  

In addition to the physical toll, being stuck in bed from sickness or injury can be emotionally taxing. We can only watch so much television before we crave something more.  Even better than gifts would be a hand-written letter to your loved one, especially if you can’t visit. 

Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

  • Update them on your life. Tell them about your favorite teacher or an accomplishment at work. I usually include the history lesson I’m teaching to my 9th graders that week. 
  • Give them something to look forward to. Suggest activities you can do together once they heal. I tend to stick with the wonderful warm weather coming our way. 
  • Add humor. Everyone appreciates a good laugh, so I usually include some self-deprecating humor. Since I make silly mistakes almost daily, it’s easy to include a good laugh at myself that translates well to written word. 
  • Use imagery. This means you paint a picture they can visual in their mind’s eye. For example, you might recount a trip you have planned for the future by describing the weather, activities, and foods you’re going to try. Try activating all the senses so they feel like they’re there with you. 

Remember, there will be an end to this pandemic. Let’s stay as positive as we can for those who need us.

Donald E. Schoff contributed to The Gazette and Daily, 1940, asking his classmates to send him letters while he healed from pneumonia.

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