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  • Writer's picturePenny Neef

My Daughter, the Doctor

Updated: Dec 6, 2020

Words by and Photos Courtesy of Penny Neef

It’s a cliché, especially now, but life as we know it has changed for every single one of us. If your life hasn’t changed, you had better be making some changes now- for your safety and for ours.

Here’s a big change for me. I have a daughter, Haley, who lives far away in Michigan. We miss her like crazy, but she visits here and my husband and I visit there. She’s good about calling a few times a week to tell us about her family, the news at work, and her two cute French Bulldogs.

Since Covid-19 reared its ugly head, she calls every single day. She’s not calling to tell us about her Frenchies or the crappy weather in Michigan. Nope, she’s calling to make sure we’re still healthy. She’s calling to find out what our plans are for the day, which means she’s calling to check we are not going out and doing anything stupid. 

Haley Neef with her frenchie dogs!

You didn’t think we would mention puppies at a time like this and NOT show them to you, did you? -the Editor

Now that I think about it, I might have done something similar to her when she was in her “formative” years. Haley has turned into the parent, which means we have turned into the children.  

To be fair, we have another daughter, Lindsey, who lives right up the road. She’s been telling me the same thing, “STAY HOME!!” Lindsey will not even let me get near my grandkids. I moved from Michigan to Virginia just to be near those grandkids. I guess I just have to be patient and safe.

Here’s the difference. Lindsey is an attorney. She is smart and a whiz with numbers. She understands the whole “flattening the curve” thing. I will listen to her, but Haley is a doctor. Haley is a doctor at a large university (Go Blue!). My daughter the doctor is following this pandemic very closely. She treats children who are critically ill, children who are transplant patients, children who are immunocompromised. It is her passion and her business. Dr. Haley knows her business.

The following is an actual conversation I had with Haley last Tuesday, March 17, which seems about a year ago now:

Haley – What are you and dad up to today? (she’s making sure we’re OK and not doing anything stupid) 

Me – We’re going out, we need to do a few things. (I’m going a little crazy, been in the house for the last 2 days)

Haley – Like what? Me – I need a pedicure. Haley – NO! Me – Dad needs a haircut. Haley – NO! Me – We need some groceries. Haley – OK, but go early and get in and out fast. Wash your hands! (I used to tell her and her sister that after they had been outside playing with worms.) Me – Love you. Haley – Love you too mom.

Dr. Haley cancelled her vacation this week so that she can be at the hospital and cover for one of the doctors who is immunocompromised. Dr. Haley calls us EVERY morning to check up on us.

Here is a conversation from the very next day, Wednesday, March 18:

Haley- What’s going on today? Me- We’re in the car ….. Haley(interrupts) – NO!!!! Me (continues calmly) – …going to the Botanical Garden for a walk. Haley – Oh, that’s OK. Have fun.

A walk outside is good for the body and good for the soul. It is also doctor approved. I wrote about my walk and the measures they have in place at Norfolk Botanical Garden right here.

I’m officially old. We have zero health problems, but my husband and I are in that high-risk, senior citizen category. I have to start listening to both my daughters, who probably know more than I do. Big change.

Haley and Lindsey Neef as kids playing outside.

Dr. Haley calls every day, usually on her way into the hospital. As I write this, Michigan has gone into official lockdown. I expect Virginia will do the same soon. We’ve been in lockdown for a while, because I listen to my daughter. You should listen to Dr. Haley too.

I couldn’t be prouder of the daughters we raised who are a little bossy, but then, so is their mom. Love you so much, Haley. Love you so much, Lindsey.

I told Haley the other day that this may be the biggest battle of her life, but she’s ready for it. Love and good thoughts to all the health care workers out there. Listen to Dr. Haley.

Postscript, March 24 –  Dr. Haley called us on her way home from work last night. She knew we were planning our weekly run to Kroger this morning, during official “senior citizen hour” from 7:00 – 8:00 am:

Haley – You still going to Kroger tomorrow?  Wear a mask, take the wipes, get in and out fast. Wash your hands like there’s no tomorrow when you get home. DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE!! Me – Yes ma’am.

This is my new normal. Yours too.

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