Continuing this series, we’re now in our second week of sheltering in place. I am again bringing you another voice from our community. My hope continues that by sharing these voices we can reduce the sense of isolation we may be feeling and find the commonalities we are experiencing. Of course, no story will ever be the same; but I’m sure they may be similar.
My second interview was with another individual within the defined “at-risk population.” Being in their late 60s with some limited mobility. A lifelong native of Sonoma County, they grew up in an agricultural setting but currently live in Rohnert Park with their spouse and cat. Other than the limited mobility, they are in good health. They own their home. They don’t have to worry about paying their day-to-day bills. A former teacher, they’ve always been active in the community to include their church, schools, scouting, 4H clubs and the Sonoma Marin Fair. They are sincerely grateful for what they and their family have. They know how fortunate they are.
What has changed for them? In some sense, not much. In others, a little bit. For example, being creative and a crafter, they can still do that. Yet, they can no longer share their abilities as before with the adult disabled population in our community. They especially miss the ability to work with their visually impaired friend that they were teaching how to sew. They also worry that the annual fair will be impacted. Currently holding it is just in doubt; it hasn’t been cancelled. Like most of us, they miss the social contact that we took for granted pre-virus days.
One child, a single parent, is in an essential job. So, they made the decision that the grandchild would shelter-in-place with them instead of their parent. That way, the child is at less risk of being exposed when the parent is out and about during this pandemic. Spending quality time with their grandchild is a blessing. Being separated from the parent is not. These are the type of things we do to keep our kids safe. Speaking of safe, they are worried about other children who may be at more risk due to school closures. They worry about them not having enough food. They do love that the school districts are addressing that issue with their “Grab and Go” meals. But they know the schools can’t do much about kids sheltering in place with families who are potentially abusive. Schools may have been their safe spaces.
As a former teacher, they are also in charge of guiding the grandchild with continuing their education. Using both experiential and on-line learning tools, they make the best use of their time together. Virtual tours of museums, in-depth discussion about a variety of topics, and effective use of available on-line materials. They are glad they kept their textbooks from their teaching days. They come in handy now. They also share their abilities with friends who’ve reached out to them on-line to find resources. Sometimes the friends just want to chat and not feel alone.
They are also learning a bit more about tolerance. For example, initially they couldn’t understand why others couldn’t follow the shelter-in-place and social distancing rules. Why they took the entire family to the store to pick up supplies; or went to the park; or wanted their events to not be cancelled. Then they realized many aren’t as fortunate as they are. If they have a home, they may not have a yard to let the kids get some air and exercise. If they were living payday to payday, they had to work. If their jobs weren’t essential, to try and understand their fears and anxieties around finances. With the schools closed, they might not have close family to provide childcare like they are for their grandchild. They hope folks are being smart and practicing social distancing and safety rules when they do have to work or go out. That those trips are for needs not wants. But for the Grace of God, it may have been us too.
As before I want to thank them for sharing their story with you and me. It’s not easy to share your story with a semi-stranger. However, if you’re interested in sharing your story with me for part three of this series, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, stay safe and be well.