GREENSBORO — Ever the devoted son, Mitchel Sommers visits his mother daily at her senior living community.
In her room at Abbotswood at Irving Park, Gloria Clarke listens as her son chats and sings her favorite show tunes.
When concerns about coronavirus closed Abbotswood and other retirement communities to visitors this week, Sommers found an inventive way to visit his 92-year-old mother daily without entering the building.
On Thursday, he stood outside the closed window and sang through his cell phone her favorite, "Que Sera, Sera," accompanied by online karaoke music.
"Que sera, sera
"Whatever will be, will be
"The future's not ours to see
"Que sera, sera."
Inside, licensed practical nurse Devonya Williams put a phone on speaker so Clarke could hear her son.
With its message, the 1956 song resonates in 2020.
"If there was ever a time of 'Que Sera, Sera' — What will be, we really just don’t know," Sommers said.
Sommers is the retired executive director of Community Theatre of Greensboro, who serves as cantorial soloist at Temple Emanuel.
His approach shows a unique way to stay connected to elderly loved ones during the pandemic.
“I hope it inspires other people to think outside the box and find ways to connect with humanity while we live in isolation," Sommers said.
The idea hit him when he saw a photo online of a smiling young woman showing her new engagement ring to her grandparent through a window.
He tried singing to his mother from outside the window. It worked.
On Thursday, his mother listened intently, smiled slightly and even mouthed a few lyrics as her son sang.
"What do you think of that, Ma?" he asked her. "It’s hard for you to say certain things. But I see it in your eyes."
"Everybody is taking good care of you. They don’t want you to get sick. That’s why we can’t come in. But I’ll keep coming back to your window."