P.O. Box 41, 4000 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M6S 2T7
Remember the blackout in 2003? I was at work downtown and then stuck on the roadside because there was no public transit. My two loving and dedicated sons meanwhile took over. One handled the phone and the other who worked in a bank, handled the finances (ATM’s had stopped working). Somehow, they managed to find me wandering around Lakeshore and bring me home.
Seventeen years later, in a unique COVID crisis they said “Mama and Papa you are old. Don’t leave the house”. Which is a reality that we don’t want to acknowledge. We dream that our kids will be there for us all the time but they have their own families and jobs that they have to attend to. One son owns two restaurants which are now closed so he’s at wits end wondering how to cope. The other one works in an office where he is the only person on site running the place. The stress is real and we, as parents worry about the future.
My daughter in law is a flight attendant and she tells me about the difference in attitude. The privileged ones who are returning from West Palm Beach, Florida grumble, moan and groan the entire way. The ones coming from South America thank the flight attendants profusely and show immense gratitude and empathy.
So, what does COVID 19 mean to two retirees living in a small two-bedroom condo? Well let me tell you it can strain the best of relationships. Even after 43 years of being happily married, we are getting on each other’s nerves. To be honest the success of our marriage lies in the fact that my husband worked for an airline and therefore he worked shifts. Which meant that we were rarely home together, even on weekends so when we did meet it was great to catch up and show some love and romance.
However, as we know, too much togetherness can wear you down. With one computer in the house we have to take turns and time each other but there are moments when kick-kick, nudge-nudge is needed.
I am in self-isolation because (as reminded constantly by the kids) I’m a senior and my immune system is not the best. While kids say we are old, the grandkids think we are gold and keep in touch a few times a day which is the highlight. We send each other jokes and riddles. It’s hard to explain to my four-year-old granddaughter why she can’t hug me but we tell her its only for a short time – I hope. I miss the physical contact a lot.
Hubby who should also be home gets cabin fever and takes a drive everyday complete with mask and gloves (Thank God). He has discovered where all the coveted items are available and arrives home every day with paper towels (I swear I have enough paper towels for the next year and no place to stash them), toilet paper, masks, tissues, sanitizers etc. etc. I don’t believe in hoarding so am now supplying stuff to the kids, friends and neighbors.
However, on his rounds hubby also picks up odds and ends of exotic food items he wants to eat. In the best of time, I was never much of a cook but now there are requests for different foods every day. So, I pulled out old recipes hand written by my mother-in-law and this brings back wonderful memories. By default, we have become foodies! And with very little exercise, the weight gain has started to show. Only one friend is allowed into our home and that too after sunset. He’s from Scotland and his name is Johnny Walker. He puts a smile on hubby’ face.
Added to this is the fact that hubby’s OCD syndrome is at its height. I mean he was always a ‘clean-freak’ but now it’s over the top. The house is smelling of Lysol and you could eat off the floor. I mean how many times can you clean a small home? According to OCD, all day long and while he tries to rope me into the cleaning, I fake a backache and decline politely the first time, and with a growl the second. My brother in Pakistan was telling me that he cleaned his bedroom and bathroom for the first time in his life and I guess they are facing challenges with no household help which they are so used to.
When the term “social distancing” was announced it should have included a small warning not to go crazy with WhatsApp and bombard everyone you know with every conspiracy theory, warnings of gloom and doom, memes, jokes, spiritual healing, prayer chains and cures. (I’m guilty as well!). Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for prayers but also for prevention and precaution.
BTW I don’t like some of these terms. “Self-isolation”? Should be ‘stay at home’ or ‘homebound’ – isolation is real for many people and I feel for them. “Social distancing” should be ‘keep your distance’ even in the best of times i.e. don’t be in my face. But the need to connect with people is more urgent now than ever before.
Happily, I’m now in socializing mode. I just pick up the phone and call people and have re-connected with many relatives and friends which is so therapeutic.
I’m also trying to get back to writing prose and poetry – something I was able to do without any effort all my life – but then got writers block. It’s easy to just hang around in pajamas all day but I recall my mother (may her soul rest in peace). Despite immense pain and medical issues, she would dress up and apply red lipstick and go about her daily chores. She repeated the old cliché “when you smile, the world smiles with you. When cry, you cry alone.”
So, I’m trying to do the same. Only problem is that I’ve used up all my red lipstick and since this is not ‘essential’ service, I’ll have to do with pink.