Editor’s note: The Virus Diaries is a series in which Mainers talk about how they are affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Esther Gyger, 95, looks through a window as she talks to her daughter Sally Biggar standing outside an assisted living facility in Auburn. Sally Biggar photo

When Martha Littlefield of Poland visited her mother earlier this week at an assisted living facility in Auburn, they talked about sacrifices.

“The sooner we ALL make them,” Littlefield wrote in an email to the Press Herald about her experience, “the sooner we ALL will get through this.”

Esther Gyger, 95, had been hospitalized with pneumonia in February but was back at her assisted living facility, first in a skilled nursing section and then returning to her residential apartment. In recent weeks, the facility first curtailed visiting hours and then adopted a no-visitors policy.

“My mother has been forced to readjust to being back home on her own,” Littlefield wrote. “Staffers are stretched thin. Routines are ‘all mixed up’ she tells me (and my sister). Right away, we realized that this was going to be a very isolating time, especially since our mother is in a unit by herself.”

At the urging of Littlefield’s sister, Sally Biggar of Topsham, Gyger wrote her phone number on a slip of paper and asked a staffer to give it to a fellow resident she had befriended.


“Our mother has been speaking every day with Dot, who is in the same boat,” Littlefield said. “It also occurred to us to ask the facility if family could visit our mother at her windows (as our mother’s unit happens to be on the first floor). The facility granted our request, so twice a week, between certain hours, one of us stands in a (dormant) flower bed and is rewarded with much-needed visual contact with our mother.”

“How are the visits? Less than ideal, to be sure. They told us we can’t open the window, so we’re on our cell phone and she’s using her landline on the other side of the glass. But we are making the best of things.”

When Littlefield mentioned the sacrifices everyone is going through these days, her mother reflected on her wedding ceremony to John Gyger, who died in 1989.

“My mother then said, ‘When your father and I were getting married, the minister said that in marriage there needs to be ‘uncomplaining sacrifice’ and that is what your father and I lived by.’ I had never heard that from her before but I realized that would have been necessary for each of them over 41 years of marriage. I laughed and repeated, Uncomplaining sacrifice. That says it, Mom.”

Do you have a story to share about how you are affected by the coronavirus outbreak? Email us at virus@pressherald.com

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