Life in the Time of COVID-19

Maybe I could turn into my mother. I always marveled at her good cheer as she coped with the vicissitudes of life, especially as she aged. A lifelong social worker by proclivity and training, she never seemed to grow discouraged with her clients or her situation.

She adapted to my father’s questionable schemes – lighting out for British Columbia with two little girls to build and live in a log cabin out in the woods, then a move to pre-statehood Alaska. She loved Alaska, but happily ended up in Washington, and toward the end of her life, when I called her each day while cooking dinner, she’d tell me about her day. Little things cheered her – 15 minutes of sun on a Washington winter day sufficed. Except when she’d watched too much CNN. Then I would lecture her about succumbing to the anxiety created by news she could do nothing about.

That sort of news inundates us now: the horrifying rise in COVID-19 cases, the shameful attempts to discredit Dr. Fauci, the idiotic fighting about masks, the looming threat of another shutdown, the dismantling of 50-year old environmental regulations, the corruption and incompetence in the allotment of our money meant to help the victims of the pandemic, the Rose Garden turned into an arena of political theatre and lies, the absolute disgust born of watching Trump hawk a supporter’s food products from the Oval Office, Federal agents in riot gear (unwanted by local authorities) patrolling Portland streets and harassing peaceful protesters, the threatened evictions of people who’ve lost their jobs, small businesses closing forever, the death of John Lewis, Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s fragility. The ubiquitous virus itself.

You can’t counter any of that with happy talk, and it isn’t good-cheer-no-matter what I’m searching for (as I fight the CNN part of my mom). I think I want to not let the everyday things that are part of a small safe life go unremarked.

Sometimes it’s as simple as order: the kitchen counters cleared and wiped that greet me in the morning, a stack of completed masks ready for mailing, their colorful ties dangling off the ironing board, the bags and boxes of possessions from the bluff dispersed, the linen closet organized, so, instead of chaos, the folds of patterns and faded colors greet me when I open the door, the refrigerator clear and ready for the privilege of weekly provisioning, and, before it’s time to wear them again, a stack of winter sweaters finally washed and put away.

Sometimes it is pure joy: when a FaceTime call rings, I picture the sweet face that will fill the screen. And I try to note fleeting summer pleasures: bare feet, eating breakfast and lunch outdoors at a wobbly table under an umbrella next to St. Francis, fresh raspberries, corn, tomatoes, flowers to paint.

And, as I write, it’s rain – a good thing – warm rain at midsummer – just when we need it.

 

8 thoughts on “Life in the Time of COVID-19

  1. Oh, it is indeed the little things that keep us going. (Add the heat to the list of awfuls.) I’ve just been tidying up Josie’s toys in the wake of yesterday’s visit and in preparation for tomorrow’s. It’s a pleasure to make new vignettes out of her ‘collections’ in the old corner cupboard or to rearrange the on-going tea party in The Room.

    The major treat of a BLT with our first ripe tomato lies ahead for lunch!
    So much that is frightening right now . . . and so much that is sweet.

    • Well to the good list – let’s add wonderful comments! Been a busy morning, just nearing the end of the book we read with Lady Baby on F/T – and just now getting a chance to reply to comments. I have always enjoyed the concept of The Room!

  2. I love your writing, always have, always will ❤️ Remembering the little stuff and the memories to celebrate-starting off my morning with a smile. Thank you.

    • You are so welcome Jana – it’s a great privilege to figure out how I feel by writing about what’s happening – and then to get such a lovely comment! and I think about you all the time! Having such a good time with the endless variety of the new stash of fabric! xo

  3. Does it help a little to know that your thoughts on the current political situation echo ours exactly? You simply articulate it better. Thank you!

    Sent from my iPhone

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  4. Ditto Jane’s comment. I SO loved reading about your mother. I had been reading back in some old journals, and she was such a trooper – taking all our kids to the movies, writing a play for them to read and act, and cooking a turkey and bringing it all the way up from Girdwood (or did you cook the turkey and take it there??) At any rate, I associate her with some pretty happy times. It was good to hear about your daily joys. I think it’s really important to mark them, whether with words or paint. Thanks! xoxo

    • I guess it happens to lots of people – but the older I get the more I appreciate all my mom’s efforts with the grandchildren. She was a trooper – thanks for reminding me of those adventures. (And I’m sure she cooked the turkey!)

      I’m still reading Helen Garner’s essays and read this bit today and made me think more about the little things: “There’s no point roaming around looking for comfort, or so I have found. Comfort is like grace. You can’t earn it, or deserve it. You have to thrash on, bearing things as best you can, and hold yourself receptive for the moments when it comes to you of its own accord.”

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