Seniors focus on the positives

April 12, 2020

The COVID-19 virus has disrupted and forever altered many lives. Yet I have witnessed some positive outcomes in my life and in my community.

My husband, who works with the Village Volunteers, has phoned his elderly clients to check on them each week. Instead of driving them to the store or to doctor appointments, they just talk about how they are coping.

My neighbors Bob and Marianne are able to deliver Meals on Wheels. They ring the doorbell, deposit their lunches, and leave. Marianne says they feel more appreciated than ever before.

All around me, neighbors are walking more often, even those who don’t have pets. They wave or stop and ask one another, “How are you doing? Do you need anything from the store?”

My friend Nancy, who has lived in her same neighborhood in Maryland for 39 years, recently met a young mother and learned the name of her twins while she was out walking. She was surprised to learn that they had been living there for more than five years.

Everyone seems to have discovered new ways to communicate so that their lives seem normal. FaceTime, Skype, and WhatsApp, and other forums are enabling us to feel we are physically together with those we love. Book clubs, yoga classes, political forums, and work calls are all happening on Zoom and in other apps.

Last Sunday, I chatted with all three of my sisters at the same time on one phone call, which has never happened in my lifetime! Each one of us shared our concerns. We took turns talking.

Next, I got to read bedtime stories to all three of my grandchildren – those in Spain and in North Carolina. I held the pictures up to the laptop and watched their eager faces. That night I went to bed ecstatic and slept soundly.

Being confined at home with my husband of 40 years has even made our relationship stronger. “Please, no TV this morning, I beg. Let’s read.” “Please, can we play Rummikub? Do you want me to put Oscar Peterson on Pandora?” “Would you, please?” Look how polite we are!

We take turns preparing meals at home and eat healthier than before. Fewer happy hours and less fattening fare have saved us money. We danced the other night instead of watching “Wheel of Fortune.” Of course, we still snap at one another, but I am mindful of this gift: I am not living alone.

These fearful times are bringing up memories of earlier crises I had long since buried in my brain. During my son’s senior year of high school, they abruptly canceled the soccer season when a sniper began terrorizing the Aspen Hill area of Rockville and Olney where we lived.

When 9/11 hit, I was on a leadership team at Beall Elementary School in Rockville. After watching the second plane hit the tower on the television screen, we assembled in the conference room. How would we notify the teachers without scaring them and the children? I will never forget my role in evacuating the building that day, all the while knowing my husband was working near the Pentagon.

What is our role as a senior citizens during this current pandemic? To reach out to whoever needs comforting. To offer support to the administrators, educators and parents whose daily lives are more stressful than ever right now. To ask our leaders to safely equip all health workers. And thank all those on the front lines.

We can reassure our own children that life will change. People will find jobs and be able to feel safe again. But for now, let’s stay home, heed the warnings and wait for better days to dawn.

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