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  • Frances Schwabenland

Portrait Of A Hero In The Time Of Covid

We The People Of Hope and Healing

“The light alone –

Gives grace and truth to life’s unquiet dream.” 

Percy B. Shelley

Mike (name changed) was a man of the open road. He so loved riding his motorcycle and feeling the winds of freedom. In an instant, his freedom was taken from him. Mike broke his neck in an accident and is now a paraplegic. Something as simple as scratching his nose is impossible to do. Mike recognizes the sound of Phil’s footsteps and always calls to him. They talk about everything from cars to sports to world events. Phil told me how much that means to him – that Mike listens for him to come. No outside visitors are allowed into the nursing home. Mike is alone…until Phil comes. There are over 100 patients ranging in age from 18 to 80. Approximately half are on ventilators and yes, like so many other nursing homes, there have been deaths from Covid 19. Short staffing leads to 13 hour shifts where this gentle giant of a man brings care and comfort to those unable to move on their own and who are alone. 

Being with Phil, it was so obvious to me that he loves what he does. This is truly a calling for him. In trying to capture his spirit, I went back to the words, “Listening for the sounds of his footsteps” and thought of the sunrise. Nights can be some of the hardest and loneliest hours to get through- just hearing Phil’s steps would seem to be like the morning sun …the light coming up slowly, breaking through the darkness as the sound of his steps increasingly grow louder. I included white flowers because Phil’s heart is so pure. The drawing of the man in his cape is from a Philadelphia Mural by Felix St. Fort. Besides providing the grounding for #Philadlephiastrong, I chose this to convey the fact that Phil knows exactly what he is going into each day. Not only does he face it head on, he brings a true sense of humanity. We are called to do and be so much more during this time and Phil Ryan CNA has definitely listened with his soul. 


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