- Product: Photo Puzzle
- People: Anna and Her Mom
- Use: Staying connected with family
For everyone, the world has gotten very small, these last few months. For Anna’s mom, who lives in a senior apartment complex in California’s Central Valley, it has gotten even smaller.
Under normal circumstances, it’s a great setup: at 91, she lives alone in a one-bedroom apartment, has meals with a crew of six friends in the dining room, gets out, does things. Then came COVID-19. Now, the facility is in and out of lockdown. The group dinners are gone, and so are the activities. “She hasn’t been able to go out of her complex,” says Anna, who is now based in the UK. “And no one can go into the complex except the staff.” It’s for everybody’s safety, of course, but knowing that doesn’t mean it isn’t very, very dull.
A retired elementary school teacher, Anna’s mom reads a lot. She walks her puppy in the courtyard. She is a 49ers megafan, having fallen in love with football when Anna’s sister was in the high school marching band and she started going to the games. And she appreciates a good jigsaw puzzle — which is where Collage comes in.
A friend of Anna’s mentioned he’d had a custom jigsaw puzzle made, which sparked an idea: she should get a custom puzzle made as a surprise gift for her mom. They’d always been a jigsaw puzzle family, and now her mom was alone and very bored. She couldn’t see her in real life, but she could be there, sort of, in puzzle form.
She already had a picture in mind: It’s Anna and her mom in Hawai’i on a trip they’d taken together last year, in celebration of their joint milestone birthdays (60 and 90, respectively). They’re sitting in the orchid house of the arboretum in Honolulu, surrounded by flowers. The trip had been wonderful in general, but that moment — that captured it.
It isn’t a replacement for human contact — it’s a puzzle, not a miracle — but for now, it fits the bill. “I know she’s working on it,” Anna says. “She’s got the whole frame done, and she said she got our faces done.” The rest is still a work in progress. There are an awful lot of flowers.
Having temporarily relocated back to the US, Anna will go visit, just as soon as she’s finished her two-week quarantine. It won’t be a normal visit yet — she’ll stand outside her mother’s window and call her on the phone, and maybe, while she’s at it, she’ll catch a glimpse of the status of the puzzle. “I’m looking forward to actually being able to see the final product,” she says. “Even if I can’t get in there and move pieces around.”