In the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Debra Umberson stated,


“Social relationships, both quantity and quality, affect mental health, health behavior, physical health, and mortality risk.”


Likewise, the Harvard Women’s Health Watch reported, “Dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.”


Researchers at Duke University Medical Center found that social ties can reduce deaths among people with serious medical conditions.


Emma Seppala, author of “The Happiness Track,” wrote, “People who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression.”


I don’t need research to confirm with me that dinner with Carol and Joy is therapeutic.


Or that a long talk with Julie helps me deal with sadness or anxiety.


And that nurse Roberta can fix any illness, physical or mental.


So how the heck am I going to go without my friends, up close and in motion, for two to six weeks?


From Jackie, who drives the morning accessible van, to Ruth who waves good evening, to me, I don’t want to be alone.


I love my friends, even the friends I haven’t met.


I should really be the welcome wagon lady, if there is such a thing.


Well there is.


Welcome Wagon was founded in 1928 by Thomas Briggs, a marketing man from Memphis, Tennessee, Thomas Briggs.


Mr. Briggs was inspired by stories of early Conestoga “welcome wagons” that would meet and greet westward travelers, providing fresh food and water for the journey.


Thomas created Welcome Wagon to embody this same spirit of warm hospitality.


Whew, am I off track, or what?


What stimulated all of this, you might ask?


I will refer to social distancing. There has been so much talk of it lately.


For what it is worth, social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness.


Staying at least six feet away from other people lessens your chances of catching, really any virus.


However, for some of us we need contact, closeness, touch, hugs . . . we need up close, and personal, to make it through the day.


I’m grounded to my house. I’m in timeout, away from my friends. Yuck!


However, I will admit, it is the best place to be to avoid a virus, which could be deadly.


I believe most of my neighbors, friends and family have been obedient to the order to stay-at-home, which has slowed down, the dirty germ.


Do you remember “Gilligan’s Island”?


It was a TV show about seven people who set sail on what was scheduled to be a three-hour sightseeing tour on a chartered boat.


They get caught in a storm and end up stranded, together, on an uncharted tropical island.


They entertain themselves with coconuts, visiting pirates, and an unbelievable wardrobe.


If they could do it for three years, we can. May I conclude with a twist to the theme of Gilligan’s Isle?


So this is the tale of the next few weeks,


It seems like a long, long time,


We’ll have to make the best of things,


Some days, the walls, we’ll climb.


The first day, it may seem too hard,


To live without our friends,


Or school or work, or dinner out,


Less money we will spend.


The second week, we’ll do our best,


To stay at home, inside,


The kitchen growing to a mess,


Or simply pick up, curbside.


Keep in mind to pay the phone,


And the power, faithfully.


Stay in shape, don’t rest too much,


So you can exit, joyfully.


So join us in six weeks, dear friends,


As the time will move quite fast,


When the state gives us a go-ahead,


Take off, you’re free, at last.


Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County's Family Week Foundation. Email her at Director@jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.