All of my cousins and I are in the same age range, older but not entirely ancient. During this enforced stay at home period, we have been sorting and sharing. Among the many treasures have been family pictures.
This is a picture of my grandpa’s barbershop in Rochester, NY. He was born in 1884 in San Cataldo, Sicily while Victor Emmanuel III was the King of Italy, and grandpa immigrated to the United States in 1909 on the vessel, Regina D Italia. At that time the Declaration of Intention to immigrate required that he declare “I am not an anarchist; I am not a polygamist nor a believer in the practice of polygamy, and it is my intention in good faith to become a citizen of the United States of American.” He became a citizen in 1921.
He worked as a barber his entire life and owned the barbershop, the Sanitary Barbershop above. If you notice he is cutting hair and babysitting one of his children while he barbered. He and my grandmother raised nine children to adulthood, and he was married for nearly 50 years to my grandmother until he died.
When the news began to solidify that there was something unusual happening, I was in Southern California visiting my son and his family. We usually visit with them until about April 1 and return to endure the usual blustery East Coast spring. Deciding we were not going to get quarantined away from our home base, we flew home March 10 to be trapped instead in our condo since, although at least with a view of the water.
Our family trip in June to Hawaii was canceled since flying was out, and Hawaii was not allowing mainland visitors anyway.
Our fall leaf-peeping trip to New England to visit friends has been canceled since our friends don’t really want visitors, and we are afraid to fly anyway in a tube, trapped with the possibly ill.
Our trip to Columbus Isle in the Caribbean for the first two weeks December was canceled by Club Med already. We have gone every year since 2011, along with relatives and four other friends. Even when Hurricane Joaquin devastated the Bahamas, we still got together for an only one time trip to Cancun instead.
We bravely rescheduled the trip this year for Turks and Caicos Islands with Club Med. Turks and Caicos Islands are part of the EU. Today the EU announced Americans could not travel to EU countries. Turks just issued such complex requirements related to proof of negative COVID testing 72 hours before arrival, a 10-page questionnaire, requiring face masks on the beach…no buffets…no point in going there even if we could deal with these rigorous changes.
So, we are still planning to visit our son and his family in Southern California for Christmas, but we are driving instead! We’ll be on the road again 🙂
During the lockdown, time has intermittently sped by without regard to my activity level or crept by, lost in aimless screen-time and resting on the deck. My view is exceptional so that is not necessarily a waste of time but more of a spiritual experience.
Admittedly, I had a To-Do list when the lockdown began. I somehow forced myself to complete the physical tasks, painting the hallway, painting the bathroom, sorting for Goodwill, redoing the pantry, etc., however, I had other more deliberate tasks, including working out, blogging, my trip-log, etc., that required focus to accomplish.
In reading this article this morning, I had an ah-ha type experience. I am retired and the lack of a daily schedule has become more apparent as these months have dragged on, producing feelings of never having had a meaningful contribution to life and that life has become inherently meaningless.
The Pomodoro technique described in the article suits me, emphasizing short bursts of high concentration for 25 minutes, with a 5-minute break. I find it reduces my “task dread” while encouraging me to begin anew on things that really matter to me.
What goes around, comes around. I have finally lived long enough for the term “Black” to become acceptable again. When I grew up in the late 50s, the term “colored” was used and, at the time not considered offensive. Then, based on the very important civil rights’ changes which took place in the 60s, the appropriate term in the media became “African-American.” Now, the term “Black” is considered appropriate to signify a race and culture. This is an important change, considered to be respectful.
Whites have been mostly referred to as “Whites.” I am sometimes uncomfortable with that term since for many it denotes a class of priviledge, and because I have an interracial family.
I am still concerned about other racial groups in America, including Hispanics and Asian Americans, as examples. There are only derogatory terms describing these groups related to their color. I guess I am still wanting us all to be “Americans” and be respectful within that designation of the many, many variations of background and race, especially as many Americans are multi-racial.
With each day that elapses, growing bored with the homebound menu is a significant risk. My husband and I are both outstanding cooks, using a theme approach for each night of the week but varying the menu within, including Marinara Monday, Taco Tuesday, Wegetable Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday, Pizza Friday, Seafood Saturday, and Special Sunday. Differentiating Saturdays and Sundays from Monday through Friday was increasingly a challenge since retirement but we began the weekday brunch out and weeknight meeting of friends in restaurants to keep our lives interesting.
Now, having been on home lock-down during the current crazy episode in this country, we have missed wine-pairing dinners with friends, quiet gatherings with our best friends, and not one brunch in a restaurant. Everything here has been closed, including the beaches, for two weeks. Fourteen days of breakfast, lunch, and dinner at home and home-cooked has begun to be a bore. Forty-two meals of our own creation. Now we are trying to create foods to crave. The problem is we are eating more and the meals include more homemade biscuits and bread. I have signed up for foody newsletters and downloaded dozens of new recipes. Given that at a minimum this containment approach may go on for another month, 90 more healthy homecooked meals are out of the question!
Up until a week ago, I had not even given much consideration to my age or any societal implications of my health. Being active has been a choice many Boomers made as much for enduring youthful delusion as for a healthy lifestyle choice. Then, boom – the Boomers became the “elderly” and in some countries apparently expendable in these times of the C-virus, not the “C” that afflicts many but gives you a chance with many effective treatments.
I can barely listen to the admonitions of these sweet looking young ladies prattling on about the global health crisis and the disproportionate impact on the elderly which is apparently now anyone over 60 years of age. My parents died when they were elderly – 89 and 93! That is old and a life well-lived!
Our children, the Millennials, are suggesting we stay at home, stockpile toilet paper, get our medications refilled, and have a plan on occupying ourselves so we don’t become depressed and lonely. I received a call from a kindly older lady from a local senior center. While well-meaning I had to say I was nearly gasping to not guffaw. She wanted to know if I was okay and did I have activities to keep myself busy. We chatted for a while and she said she and another volunteer had taken three sheets each of names, where she got them I have no idea and were calling to check on the elderly. I am only 70, the new 40 I thought 🙂 Just before hanging up, she asked if she could arrange Senior Meals on Wheels deliveries. She was so caring and sweet and I was touched by her kindness.
I am touched by my children’s kindnesses and concerns as well.
But, we are living in an ageist period which is becoming coarse and publicly insincere, translating age into a criterion for treatment if very ill, access to travel opportunities, activity level, and the enjoyment of entertainment options.
Boomers will make it through this current frenzy in the world and America. I plan to be around to be truly elderly, maybe outliving my parents’ generation!
Sorry, this is a rant…a long and annoying story of repairing the aging body to function at a reasonable level…
In November 2018 I was completing physical therapy to improve neck range of motion, knee strength, and balance. During the last session the therapist decided to have me do a sled type pull which at the time seemed fine.
The next day I could hardly walk on my left foot due to shooting pains coming from the metatarsals on the top left foot. I went to my GP who suggested I go to a foot doctor. Living in a resort, the pickings are slim. I found a nurse practitioner at my prior foot surgeon who X-rayed the foot and said, the ” I think it is a sprain” refrain. I had previously broken my metatarsals on my right foot and was fairly certain of my own diagnosis.
Finally in May I found a podiatrist. Who did additional x-rays and said the metatarsals were broken and I needed surgery. He performed a tightrope procedure with wire and screws. Within two weeks it appears the wire stretched and the procedure was a failure. The recovery for the surgery was 8 weeks until I was able to walk, with the same level of pain I have had for a year.
Now, I am just mentally and physically restoring my cheery outlook on life, and waiting for my mind to make a decision about my body.
Today while participating informally in the church coffee hour, I was waiting in a short line for the regular coffee (our church attendance was only 44 today as it was pouring rain and windy), two gentlemen were chatting. One of them turned to include me in their conversation and opened with a real conversation stopper. He asked if I was afraid to die? I paused and turned the question back to the two of them. Both smiled sheepishly and sort of demurred to answer directly. I answered, “No.” They seemed to find that mildly amusing. I was a bit surprised that they seemed more concerned than me. We had just had a sermon on the pious church-goer v. the repentant and grateful tax collector. I would have thought neither of them would be worried as I perceive them as active and moral living people.
My philosophy is best summed up by Isaac Asimov:
Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.