B.N., 76, a former teacher in Murrieta, CA

I have always been a person who has plenty to do to keep busy and haven’t minded being alone. However, being 76 years old and married to a man with a chronic lung disease has caused me to be extra careful with whom I spend time. But I have been blessed with a family 1 mile away who have been as careful as my husband and I. I have a daughter and son-in-law who have 2 daughters, 14 and 17, who have been isolated as well. It has been a blessing beyond belief to be able to see their family on a regular basis. In fact they have given up many things and events to keep us safe.  So many of my friends have not seen their children and grandchildren for months, either because of the travel restrictions or the fear of contracting Covid from a family member. My grandchildren ride their bikes over or stop by when taking a walk, of course with their masks on.  My son-in-law comes by to chat and we visit them in their home too.

Our son and daughter-in-law are both teachers who now teach virtually. My son is teaching a new subject, 7th grade history, and his former subject, 8th grade history virtually. This has given me the opportunity to do research for his class and discuss his lesson plans for his 7th graders.  However, it has been heartbreaking to see two great teachers struggling to keep students’ interest and keep their learning going. Many students are watching TV, playing video games, and generally not paying attention during their virtual “meets.”

What am I doing? Painting portraits of people and dogs, writing for a community newspaper including many stories about what neighbors are doing to help others during covid, quilting, and praying…praying for a quick end to this terrible pandemic.

Friends who are in their latter 80’s see valuable time drifting away. Friends I have Bible study with are now afraid to meet. Zoom was too difficult to manage for half the group, so that soon ended. A widow down the street started losing weight, and losing the love of life. An elderly lady caught Covid from her husband’s caregiver. 

The cost to our children and grandchildren is troubling. Our 23-year-old granddaughter just graduated from college, can’t find a job, and just met a man she likes in February. As a Marine, this young man was in lockdown on base. Finally when the lockdown was lifted, he came to visit my granddaughter but where would they go for entertainment…Not many places, restaurants, movies, etc are open. My 17-year-old granddaughter is in her senior year of high school and has her first boyfriend.  They have zoom calls and are taking a college class on-line together. Who would have thought?

On the other hand, I have been the beneficiary of their company. I know they all would have been too busy to see their grandma very often—busy with activities, prom, music class, and so many other things. But I got to work puzzles with them, play games, cook, quilt and hear all about their activities.

[submitted on 11/29/2020]

Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University.

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