At the same time the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States in March, Reba McEntire lost her mom, Jacqueline Smith, who died of bladder cancer that month. McEntire immediately went home to Oklahoma to be with her family, and stayed there for around two months, giving her a quarantine experience that was very different from many others.
"The pandemic didn’t hit me as hard as it did a lot of other people because mainly I was in southeast Oklahoma," the singer told Sounds Like Nashville. "I was on a working cattle ranch. There was more cattle. There were more dogs than there were people at that place. Chockie, Oklahoma is little bitty and I was with family." For McEntire, that time on the ranch allowed her to experience a different pace of life than she was used to.
View this post on Instagram
"It’s changed me," she said. "First of all, it slowed me down. I go 900 mph all day long. I’m exhausted when I lay down and I sleep really well, but I love life and I enjoy doing what I do, so I just re-channeled that to try to be more creative. I’ve even co-written a few songs."
She also shared a few of her quarantine activities, which included lots of time outside. "I’m getting out in nature, enjoying what God has given us. I’ve got a garden. I’ve got a horse. I’ve got a little farm that I’m just enjoying so much, the peaceful slowdown," the 65-year-old gushed. "I haven’t had this much time off since I was in high school, so it’s been a reward and a joy to me. My heart goes out to all the folks who have been sick and who have lost loved ones. My heart goes out to them and to anybody who is suffering and hurting with this illness. It’s not a nice illness at all. It’s hateful, but I do need to say honestly, I have enjoyed the rest. I’ve enjoyed the time off to be creative, but mainly to be still, just to be still. I’ve loved that tremendously."
McEntire has since returned to work and is currently preparing to host the CMA Awards next month alongside Darius Rucker. She noted that she wears a mask "everywhere" she goes, but fan interaction obviously isn't the same right now.
"The thing that is the hardest is I can’t hug anymore," she admitted. "That hurts worse than anything. I can’t shake hands. Daddy always told us, ‘You look them in the eye and you shake their hands,’ so that’s two things that’s very foreign to me, but it’s for their safety as much as it is for mine. That’s why I wear a mask no matter where I go. If I do go out, I wear a mask. I stay away from people as much as I can. It’s funny. They still want pictures and they want to hug. I just have to say, ‘Guys, we just got to keep our distance,’ but it’s for their good. I’m not surely a snob about it at all, and I never want to hurt anybody’s feelings."