by Karen McDowell, 04/28/2020, Traverse City, MI

Adult Category

I am a 77-year-old woman writing her story of surviving the Covid-19 pandemic experience. I have been self-isolating for three and 1/2 weeks now. I have gone to the post office drive up box twice in that time to mail bills. I have driven out to my daughter’s house on Old Mission twice, but never went inside. We kept our 6 foot distance and talked outside. My 15 year old grandson, who still gives me hugs, approached me and I backed up. I knew that he wanted a hug, and it was hard not to accept it, but from the beginning of this isolation, I decided to follow the guidelines. These are the only times I have left home.

I think the secret to surviving something like this that none of us have ever experienced is to keep a positive attitude and to develop a patience that this will end. Also, it helps if you have many interests like I do. I have always been a reader, so I have continued that pleasure. I also like to knit, and that is very relaxing to me. Family history research and writing is also a big part of my life, so now I have more time to pursue this also. I still have my library card from Saginaw, my home town, and the public library there sent me an e-mail that I could enter my card number and explore free from my home. I have really taken advantage of that, and made two discoveries. I found the boat that one of my families took from Bremen Germany to the USA. I also managed to go back another generation on another family line to my great great great grandparents. These two discoveries were only possible b/c the library was so gracious to extend unlimited access to the website when we couldn’t physically go to our libraries.

I have pets which helps also. My goldendoodle, Josie, is 7 months old and needs exercise. I do too, so we have been walking inside for 30 minutes on most days. I have my favorite songs playing and that keep me walking. Henry, my cat, also plays with Josie, so all is good! Josie and I also go out in the backyard where I have started to clean up and edge my flower beds. We have been on a few walks outside, but keep our distance when passing neighbors.

My wonderful daughter has gotten groceries for me all along. I enjoy cooking and have several things in my freezer to eat also. I feel blessed that I have the love of my family and also friends. We all manage to keep in touch through these difficult times using the phone or internet. One friend and I reminisced about our life experiences. As we are the same age, and raised in Michigan, we enjoyed sharing our lives before we met about a year ago. I know we feel even closer now, and that is a good thing. On Easter Sunday the whole family did Face time. My son and his family live in CO, so it was great that we could stay in touch that way.

I guess my saddest feelings about this situation is thinking about all the families who have one hardship or another. They not only have to worry about the virus, but their everyday life existence. Jobs have been lost, maybe food is hard to come by, and with no money coming in, I’m sure that many live in fear of losing their homes. I have given to charities that help those who need it. I also
donated some elastic from my sewing box to my neighbors who were making masks for others. I received one in turn for my help no matter how small my help seemed to me.

My mother always told us about two challenging times that her family had to live through. The Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918 and World War 2. She was only 4 during the flu, but knew all about it from her parents. The wartime she experienced herself. Each time these bad situations managed to bring the country together. This is my wish for us now. Keep resolute and unite as a country, follow the rules, and we will defeat this virus and pull through this uncertain time even much stronger.