EVERYONE HAS A STORY - Week Six
April 4th – April 11th
IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS
Their new home was clean, beautiful and inviting, but let’s not kid ourselves. No matter how lovely the surroundings, quarantine is HARD! My daughter texted me early Sunday morning to let me know that she had the worst night ever – a horrible asthma attack – and could barely breathe. “You don’t have asthma,” I shouted back in a text. “Call me. I need to talk to you!”
She was exhausted from the night before and assured me that the COVID nurse on the hotline suggested she keep doing whatever she was doing. Even if it was Corona, she would not want to come to the ER or hospital until she couldn’t breathe at all, the last step before a ventilator. The reality of dealing with an illness where there is no cure, where one’s immune system, healthy or impaired is your best defense, was the message, loud and clear. The only power I held was to remain positive and calm, and let my daughter know that she could call me any time, day or night. No amount of worry would fix the situation, and I had to trust that she was taking all the necessary precautions and listening to the experts that were there to help.
Was it Tuesday or Saturday? Who cared? To most of us, it didn’t make a difference. Homework was resisted by the little one some days, embraced the next. My nephew’s mother continued with the 10:00 a.m. time slot for reading stories, singing, and basic math, but our kindergartener’s delight at spending time with her Nana every day was starting to be met with vacant stares at the screen, a short attention span, and a waning interest in the activity. The once delighted look on the her face had been replaced with a determination to ignore the plea’s of grownups to finish an assignment and find her own source of entertainment. Most of the time, that meant the lure of the iPad, and even though the restrictions were in place, none of us wanted her to spend too many hours in a stupor, replacing virtual play dates and parent interaction with a computer. That’s an issue with most households in normal times, but it seemed crucial to engage with people and not machines now more than ever.
I wanted to be part of the solution, not the problem, but more and more I felt that I had outlived my usefulness. The original intent for my presence had been hijacked weeks earlier, and both the little one an I had tired of the routine, and at times, each other. She didn’t want to listen to my instructions any more than I wanted to spend another afternoon playing Barbies. I had work piling up at home and wanted to prepare for the eventual return to finding employment and needed to figure out how I would create a steady stream of income for myself. Thus far, the mortgager offered little help, with nothing more than a three-month forbearance that needed to be repaid in full on the fourth month. It was a terrible option when the only income stream I could count on for the near future was social security. Book sales could skyrocket, but it was unlikely, and was never part of my plan for self-sufficiency anyway. My savings, which were meant to be parceled out over years, would dwindle in months without the ability to return to work.
I missed my adult children and my house that had created a snug harbor for our family for sixty years. It held a lifetime of memories that I was beginning to think would be wiped out for all future generations. Sixty years of joy and celebrations, along with heartache and disappointment. Sixty years of making repairs, maintaining the property and ensuring that it would stand another six decades, or at least not crumble in my lifetime. Could it all be gone in a few months? Am I bringing overly-dramatic? Oh…I sure hope so! But in the back of my mind is always the thought that I may never be able to return, and for the foreseeable future, Hawaii with my niece and her family is my new home. For my at-risk population, it is far safer than Southern California, but the longing for home, even with the added risks, is strong.
That six-year old, that lovely child who will harbor this memory and the aftershock for the rest of her life, started to show more resilience than the adults that surrounded her. She had learned to ride a bike the week before, and practiced every day to gain more skills and dexterity, sixteen inches above the ground. By Friday, she had mastered the pedal break and speed bumps, and graduated to small hills that were part of a construction site by the water, where pads had been graded for multi-million dollar, ocean view homes. With building halted, her ability to make a playground anywhere showed her ability to roll with the punches. The recollection of this pandemic will affect her generation, perhaps more than any other, and will be embedded in their minds once the threat of global annihilation has passed. They, like the children of the Blitz in WWII London, the young Holocaust survivors, and the youth of the Great Depression, will create a world that I think will re-fashion a global society from their shared experiences.
The gut-wrenching reality is that it is not affecting one town, one state, one country…this is the whole world! Imagine the children who will emerge with this collective memory, the little ones who are still under their parents’ watchful eye and not totally de-sensitized to morals, greed and instant gratification. They will be molded by this experience at a very young age, a hiccup in time where they learned to communicate with family, entertained themselves, discovered board games could be fun, and that rushing from one activity to the next to fill their days did not necessarily bring them a sense of joy or security. A Back-to-the Future sort of experience. Could they be the strongest of us to emerge?
I am tired of philosophizing or second-guessing the outcome of this plague, at its apex during the Passover Season. I have written twelve chapters of my novel. I think it’s good – who cares? My daughter has been my sounding board and has encouraged me to finish. My son has been maintaining my website and makes sure I continue to stay in touch with my subscribers, not just so I can share my story, but to give me a productive outlet. My daughter’s cough is persistent one day, quiet the next, but our hound dog, Bravo, a beautiful soul that is a service dog to a disabled veteran that resides on our property, just collapsed and was rushed to the animal ER. Neither my daughter or his owner were allowed inside, tests are still pending, and the worst is magnified by this reality we are all forced to endure. We will know more by tomorrow if this gentle boy will come home.
Having no grandchildren, I am blessed to have the experience to bond with my great-niece during this time of uncertainty. She will remember it always, and so will I.
The weather has been glorious with very little rain and humidity
KEEP FOREVER was Amazon’s #1 New Release in the category of 1960s History of the U.S.