CHESTERTOWN — Anne Singer gingerly tied cotton cosmetic squares around the faces of two chocolate bunnies, placed a chocolate carrot in the middle, and set them up like a still life for her annual Easter-time painting.
This is what “Love in a time of Coronavirus” looks like for Singer, whose 8-by-8-inch oil on linen painting was completed all in one sitting March 19.
Now the painting has added meaning for Singer, whose mother-in-law died of complications of the novel coronavirus April 25 at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.
Jean Singer, who would have been 80 in July, was her daughter-in-law’s biggest supporter, “my fan club,” Anne Singer said in a phone interview April 28.
As a tribute to her mother-in-law, Singer is selling a limited run of 100 prints of the “Love in a time of Coronavirus” painting with $25 from each sale benefiting the Social Action Committee for Racial Justice’s food distribution program.
Singer said her mother-in-law felt very strongly about racial and social justice, so the contribution to the SACRJ is a fitting tribute.
After learning of Singer’s plan, Arlene Lee, a co-chairman for the group, said in an email: “I am continually amazed by the kindness and goodwill in our community. We tapped into a wellspring of generosity and this is a wonderful example of how creative people have been in supporting this initiative.”
Prints can be purchased through The Finishing Touch at www.finishing touchshop.com or calling 410-778-5292.
Anne and David Singer ’83 married in 1985, three weeks after she graduated from Washington College. They have made Chestertown their permanent home since 1994 and this is where they raised their daughter Ashley.
Anne Singer was 18 when she met her future mother-in-law and she said they became fast buddies. They traveled together and spent a lot of time with one another.
The connection between the families was so close that when Jean and Bob Singer moved from Caroline County to Chestertown five years ago, they chose a house that had a room for an art studio.
Anne Singer, a founder of the Blueberry Pie and Arts Society in Chestertown, painted her “Love in a time of Coronavirus” in the studio at her in-laws’ home.
Jean Singer started to feel ill the weekend of March 21, complaining of fatigue and body aches, according to her daughter-in-law. She initially was hospitalized at UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown on March 28. After about a week, on April 5, she was transferred to UMMC in Baltimore, where she was put on a ventilator.
Anne Singer said the family made the very difficult decision to take Jean Singer off the breathing machine the morning of April 23, saying their goodbyes through the Zoom teleconferencing platform.
Like so many other families affected by the coronavirus, the Singers were not able to be there in person for their loved one at the end. Anne Singer described this as one of the “tragedies” of COVID-19.
The last time family saw Jean Singer was the day of her admission to the hospital in Chestertown. The last time Jean Singer spoke to her family was the day she was transferred to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Anne Singer said she’d made a deal with her daughter that if “Nana” were to recover, then the “Love in a time of Coronavirus” painting would be given to Jean Singer.
That’s not an option, now.
Anne Singer said the family will never part with the painting. But selling prints is a way to share it while also supporting a local business and an organization doing good work in the community.
Given the insidiousness of COVID-19 and believing they clearly had been exposed because of their closeness as a family, Anne, David and Bob — who already had been social distancing — isolated themselves once Jean Singer’s test came back positive on March 31.
Bob Singer tested positive for the disease on April 3, though he was asymptomatic, Anne Singer said.
That’s one reason she feels so strongly about the necessity for people to wear face masks. Recent studies now show that the virus can spread between people in close proximity — for example, speaking, coughing or sneezing — even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.
Anne and David Singer both tested negative, though they had some virus-related symptoms.
Being extra cautious, Anne, David and Bob Singer quarantined together until April 25. During that time, the Kent County Health Department checked in regularly, “making sure we were the most protected we could be” as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations continually were being updated, Anne Singer said.
Everyone is healthy again.
"As real as it (COVID-19) has been for us, we've never had to worry about where our next meal is coming from. The Social Action Committee for Racial Justice is helping the most vulnerable in our community," Anne Singer said in explaining why she is supporting the cause.
She said her mother-in-law would approve.