Just weeks before she died, digital thieves snuck in and stole my mother’s identity. The stealthy act would have gone undetected for a longer time had my brother Jim not received notice in the mail that the government had just approved a new employer identification number (EIN) for her.

Starting a business at 94 years old, while confined to a nursing home with impaired vision seemed unlikely, even for someone as remarkably capable as our mother.

Unbeknownst to her, her identity immediately went into lock-down mode, but not before thieves withdrew nearly $4,000 from her checking account. Her single credit card was blocked, passwords changed and a slew of authorities were notified. The bank refunded the purloined funds. The unused EIN was disabled before it too could be used for some nefarious purpose.

I’m relieved that my mother wasn’t aware of any of this, along with the knowledge that a deadly pandemic was simultaneously sweeping the globe. After such a long life it would have saddened her to no end. I had also read that several nursing homes in Spain were discovered devoid of any staff members, a particularly grim and chilling thought.

I started writing her obituary when it became obvious that the end was not far off. We spoke on the phone one last time and tearfully reminisced about the distant past but mostly about her many years on Martha’s Vineyard. It remained an undiminished cherished time for her. Her short-term memory was all but gone but distant memories remained crisp. She accepted the challenges of old age and never expressed pity for herself but did often lament not being on the Island anymore. She missed it so much. A few weeks later she slipped away from us for good.

I finished the obituary that I wrote with my brother’s help and sent it off via email to the Vineyard Gazette. Jim found a particularly good picture of Mom to run with the obituary and sent it along. The next day I opened my email and saw that Jim wanted to immediately delete one of the first lines of the obituary that included both our mother’s and her mother’s maiden names before the paper went to print. After logging considerable time dealing with the identity theft mess, he had learned that revealing maiden names online is a serious no-no in terms of protecting oneself from digital attack.

It is not even a month later and now hundreds of millions of us are living in isolation. Currently, my partner and I are in a self-imposed isolation in Nicaragua where we live. Given how long it has taken for the virus to rear its head in Central America, people in this country seem more accepting and are taking the threat seriously. Without any sort of governmental decree, the streets are suddenly empty. Nearly all the restaurants, including ours, are closed of their own volition. Social distancing in this very social country has suddenly become the norm.

Isolating oneself inside a well-stocked restaurant is a luxury I had never considered before. We have an abundance of food and wine. While many people go straight for the toilet paper, we stocked up on extra virgin olive oil instead. We laid in a supply of free-range chickens and froze them along with 10 pounds of farmstead butter when the news from around the globe became dire. We also bought rice, beans, onions, garlic and plenty of pasta.

Luckily for us, our little farm is at its peak right now. I still bicycle up into the pastured hills outside of town and pick a load of cherry tomatoes and golden beets. There’s also kale, basil and plenty of mustard greens. My melon crop, sadly, is not doing well this year, but we’ve already made a year’s supply of pesto to use if and when the restaurant reopens.

Isolation has given me another unanticipated benefit: time. Suddenly, there’s a lot of time to fill and I’ve decided to take my limited baking repertoire to a whole new level. Kneading dough is one of the most therapeutic activities I know. The feel of the warm dough alive with yeast in your hands dusted with flour is like no other. It pushes darker thoughts back to the periphery of the mindscape and I strongly recommend it to one and all.

The days pass lazily. We follow the news by laptop and cellphone. I pass most of my baking production on to my girlfriend’s family who are sequestered in a small house not far away. Her four young nieces and nephews don’t really understand why they can’t go to school or leave the house. The oldest, two boys, are only eight years old.

Nicaragua is not generally known for its baked goods. That’s a kind understatement. Breakfast for many youngsters here is a hotdog bun dipped in milk so I’m betting even my less than perfect efforts will be appreciated. I sent over a huge loaf of braided challah yesterday that I was especially proud of. News came back that they wouldn’t eat it because it was covered in dirt. The ‘dirt’ happened to be poppy seeds which I brought with me from the States. Challah wouldn’t be the same without poppy seeds but how would they know that? I’ll strive to do better tomorrow. I’m thinking cinnamon buns gooey with icing.

I’ve known them all since they were born. I’d like to believe that they and their entire family will remain safe and life will go on. Maybe any future memory of the global pandemic will be overshadowed by the strange time years ago, when warm bread and sweet treats miraculously arrived at their house each beautiful morning.

Robert Skydell lives in Granada, Nicaragua.