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While the grandparents practiced 6 feet of social distancing from grandchildren Evie, Tilleigh and William, from left, the family celebrated Evie's 10th birthday recently. / Photo by Karen Nazor Hill

Just like you, I'm living in a pandemic. But maybe unlike you, I am 100 percent listening to scientists. I'm still in quarantine and will continue until scientists say it's safe to go back into the world.

I've been off my property a few times since early March — to my doctor for a necessary appointment and to grocery stores' curbside pickup service (which is amazing). Each time I wore my handmade mask.

Living in a pandemic is a challenge, and like everything else in life, there are ups and downs. I'm focusing on the ups.

First, I live next door to three of my five grandchildren, Tilleigh, 13, Evie, 10, and William, 7 (the other two, Charleana, 3, and Misha, 1, live in California). I get to see Tilleigh, Evie and William nearly every day.

The downside? I don't get to hug or kiss them, and it's torture. I am a hugger and a kisser, and they are my daily targets.

Still, I get to see them, hear them, watch them play and interact with them while social distancing. We even got to celebrate Evie's 10th birthday a couple of weeks ago in her backyard — all while staying at least 6 feet apart.

The grandkids are faring well during this strange time. Sure, they miss their friends, sports and school. Social media and online schooling fills in much of these gaps, but it doesn't erase the need for companionship. These grandchildren, and my two in California, are my reasons for trying to stay safe, and it's why I'm listening to scientists and following their advice.

I'm lucky in so many ways, with one being that I have my very own scientist to listen to: my son, Kit, who lives in California and is working with his peers on a COVID-19 vaccine.

Kit told me in late January about coronavirus and what was going to happen. He told me there would be a pandemic, a quarantine, distribution would be interrupted and that many people, particularly the elderly, would die. He was right on every count.

My son wants his family safe. He wants us to stay at home. He wants us to live. So, when anyone in my family has to leave their homes, we do so wearing masks, taking hand sanitizer and being cautious of everything we touch.

I wipe off everything that comes into my home including boxes, mail, groceries, etc. Shoes are left outside on the porch, and if you've gone into any establishment (like a doctor's office), when you come home, you head straight to the shower and put your clothes in the washing machine on hot.

It may seem extreme to you, but we're trying to stay safe. The two times I've picked up groceries via curbside service, I was appalled to see how many people were not wearing masks. I can't grasp people's reasons for not wearing them. It's purely a safety issue. Nobody wants a pandemic, and the scientists, like my son, are just trying to keep you safe by advising you to wear a mask.

Each time you leave your home, you're setting yourself up to exposure, or if you unknowingly have it, exposing someone else, including someone you love. Sure, our numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Hamilton County are thankfully low, but that's not the case in towns around us.

What's it going to hurt to take a precaution by wearing a mask? When I see people wearing masks, I see people who care about themselves and others.

One day, the pandemic will be a thing of the past. I don't see it being anytime soon, but I sure hope my husband, Hank, and I are around to see it end.

The reason? Tilleigh, Evie, William, Charleana and Misha. They're worth everything we're doing to survive.

Email Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com

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