Few places are likely as lonely as retirement centers right now with visits from family restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But Wednesday afternoon, a video call from California gave one Dallas retiree a reprieve.
“You know, this is not a typical Wednesday,” said Pam Altizer, 66.
She lives at Presbyterian Village North and was on a laptop when the Zoom video call came in.
“Hi, how are you,” Altizer asked smiling.
“Look at you. You look so beautiful and colorful,” the woman with the British accent said on the other end. It was Jane Seymour, the Hollywood actress, who called Altizer from her home in Malibu, more than 1,400 miles away.
Seymour wanted to spend part of her afternoon painting with Altizer on a video call.
“It’s kind of fun to paint with someone else,” the actress told Altizer.
When she’s not on a set somewhere, Seymour is often in her art studio at home, with watercolors.
Altizer has also dabbled in painting for years, before retiring as a management consultant who traveled across the country.
Both women agreed to let WFAA sit in and watch their session.
“I’m using a purple instead of a black,” Altizer said showing Seymour a tube of paint.
“I think if people knew how calming it was to put brush strokes on a canvas, we’d get a lot more people happier,” Seymour told Altizer. “It’s a natural sedative.”
For more than an hour, they chatted about paint brushes and palette knives, canvas and colors – even COVID19.
“This is a very, very difficult time for everyone. It’s just hard to imagine, isn’t it,” Seymour stated.
She was in Madrid filming a movie when the virus began to spread in Spain and said she caught one of the last flights back to the United States.
Now, with restrictions on retirement centers and nursing homes, many senior citizens have been pushed into isolation during COVID19. They cannot have visitors for fear of spreading the virus.
So, Seymour wanted to reach out on Wednesday to seniors and the homebound, hoping to inspire others to do the same.
“We all know that they’re most at risk for this virus, too, so, I just thought I’d bring some joy and fun into their homes,” she said. “It gave back to me more than I think it did for them, to be perfectly honest. I had a blast. I loved every minute of it.”
Seymour said she now wants people to consider doing something for others and then share it on-line, using the hashtag #OpenHeartedChallenge.
“I think we can all do something. And I think what was interesting that Jane mentioned, she said she benefitted more from it at the end of the day than the initial intention was. It’s nice to have something to feel good about right now,” said Tim Mallad, CEO of Forefront Living, who helped organize the calls and oversees Presbyterian Village North.
The virus has changed a lot of how society interacts, but Seymour and Pam painting, prove that the pandemic remains no match for generosity.
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