Running 6 miles through nearly three feet of snow to get to her first COVID-19 vaccine appointment was nothing compared to what 90-year-old Fran Goldman went through to get it.
“I called to get an appointment every morning, every afternoon, and I was often online at night,” said Goldman on Sunday evening, safely at home in the Sand Point neighborhood of Seattle.
Goldman called the Washington State Department of Health every morning asking them to help her find something.
“Nada. Nothing, ”said Goldman. “Every day.”
She tried the local grocery stores with pharmacies, hoping for a spot. Her daughter Ruth, who lives in Buffalo, New York, worked on the phone and scoured the internet to find something. A friend in Arizona too.
Last Friday, Goldman went online with Seattle Children’s Hospital, which was delivering vaccines. She went through all the questions and expected a dead end. Then a window opened and asked when she wanted to come in.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” said Goldman. “I had to get my glasses to see if I really saw them.”
She made an appointment for 9:10 a.m. on Sunday morning, not knowing that a blizzard was going in that direction.
On Saturday, Goldman woke up to inches of snow on the ground and knew she had to plan ahead. So she dressed in shifts, got out her walking sticks, and went out with her phone which told her it would be 3 miles each way.
Goldman, who got a new hip last year, carefully stepped down the steep driveway in front of her apartment building and entered the Burke-Gilman Trail, which already contained tracks.
She was about two-thirds of the way to the hospital and turned around, confident that she would make it the next day.
And on Sunday morning at 8 a.m., she put on fleece pants and a short-sleeved shirt so that the nurse could easily reach her arm. A fleece zipper over it, then a down coat, then a rain jacket. She put on her snowshoes, grabbed her two walking sticks, and went out.
“It wasn’t easy, it was a challenge,” she said, adding that the tracks were frozen over and covered in more snow.
But Goldman was only 5 minutes late for her appointment, which was fine. Had she been early, she would have had to wait in her car – it wasn’t there.
Back in Buffalo, Ruth Goldman wasn’t too worried about her mother.
“We’re outside of people,” she said. “We love to be outside. Yesterday I was on Lake Ontario with a wind cold of 6 degrees.
“My mother doesn’t let a little snow stop her from getting the vaccine,” she continued. “She was willing to walk so many miles there and back to get it. She’s a truly remarkable person with an attitude: “You don’t let a little bit of adversity get in the way.”
“She is someone who looks for solutions, not problems.”
Indeed, Fran Goldman has come one step closer to solving a major problem: not being able to keep her great-grandson Silas, who was born six months ago; and her other great grandson, Logan, who is 2 years old. She also has five grandchildren and four children.
“I can’t wait to hold it,” she said. “I just want to feel more comfortable.”
She hasn’t felt this way since the pandemic started. She does her best, takes Zoom courses (currently it’s a lifelong learning course on post-WWII China), orders groceries online and picks them up in her car. (Yes, she’s still driving).
“I hate it,” she said. “I will happily go to a grocery store again and choose my own items.”
That was never truer than it was today when she came in from the cold. She started washing and heating a can of soup, which was “awful”.
But it was still the end of a long period of frustration and a very long walk.
“I knew how far it was, I knew how long it was going to take,” Goldman said. “If it had been shorter, I would have been happier. But I did it. “