Back to the 50s

As I sit here and contemplate all that is going on in our world today I am reminded of growing up in the 50s.

Our world has come to a standstill. Now that I am over the initial panic my thoughts are somewhat rational unless I listen and watch social media and the news 24/7.

I woke up this morning with the thought that for my husband and I there is no place to go. We have been grounded by our kids. There is no shopping, no restaurants to visit with our friends, no coffee hours etc. I don’t have to worry about work and so I took some time to try and put things into perspective. My main thought was all our lives are about to change. Most of us are not used to going without. We are used to fast access. We are used to having food readily available or taking a day out and away to somewhere fun such as sporting events etc. We are used to having the money to be able to buy what we want when we want it. Our kids are on an endless journey of sports and activities and are rarely home.

This morning I was reminded of my childhood. I told my teenage Granddaughter she was lucky she could at least keep in touch with her friends on social media where if it were in the days when I was a teen we wouldn’t have had that available.

I feel like today is a Sunday in the 1950s. Nothing was open. Stores were closed and life stopped. We didn’t worry about food because there was plenty of jars of canned meat in the cellar and fruits and vegetables too. If we needed eggs we went to the chicken coop or someone would come in from the country and sell us their eggs.

Every week the milkman came and we bought our milk and dairy from him. Groceries could be bought and delivered if needed. And of course at my house we had pretty much every thing we needed if something would happen, because my parents lived through the depression and that lesson never left them. People lived simply.

We read books and played outside or in the evenings talked with our neighbors. We kids were also kept busy helping in the garden or with the chores and yes, there were still things to do in winter. I lost all those simple pleasures and thankfulness with having those experiences living in the busyness of today.

I realize what we are facing now is different. People will be hurting because of lost businesses and lost jobs. Our younger people have never known this or a recession and it is very tough to get through. But I know we have generations behind us oldies that are strong and will figure it out. I have faith in them that they will emerge stronger.

I am reminded that there are people in our country that live with these fears every day and now I imagine they are living with the fear of not having access to a health system to help those without insurance or a safe place to self quarantine. Yet we have been fighting tooth and nail to not make these things available to them before this happened. Maybe we actually have been made to now walk in their shoes. I can’t imagine living with this fear daily. The response of most of us who could afford it is to stock up and hoard because of our fear we are not going to have enough. We need to count our blessings that we could afford to do that.

My hope is that the lessons we learn from this pandemic and how we cope as Americans are remembered. There are some positives. We are coming together helping one another. We are not divided in this but uniting to get through these times. Maybe life will slow down and we will be kinder and more caring to one another and realize that we are more the same than different.

There is an old Bible School song that says it best.

Reach out to your neighbor

Reach out to your friend.

Reach out to the people on the street.

For those of us that are grounded by our kids we can still reach out by phone, text, FaceTime and positive messages to keep up our spirit. It is hard to stay positive but together we can do it. Support your local businesses. They will need us now more than ever and so will those whose jobs are in jeopardy.

There is also the fear of getting sick. It is gut wrenching fear. We look into the future of the next few weeks and we panic not knowing the future. Do we ever? But today, what about today? Can we stay in the moment? Today I am fine. This moment I am fine. I, as much as anyone panic if I let myself think about the time frame and the people that are sick. But today I am fine, my loved ones are fine. I am going to try and go moment by moment, day by day, which is what Alcoholics Anonymous asks of us. And though tomorrow may be different, it may not be. If it is I trust we will work together to get through it and help each other with our panic and fear.

“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

A Yearning For My Front Steps

This morning I have an inexplicable yearning to go outside and sit on my front steps and breathe in life.

It is the appearance of the sun in what has been a cold and bleak and cloudy Minnesota which brings to mind spring and thoughts of flowers and warm weather. However, I can’t explain my feeling that I need a front step sit. I have a perfectly good outside porch to enjoy but something in me tells me I need steps.

Though the sun is shining today my front steps and porch are crusted with ice. It is still winter and there is still snow on the ground. I like the beauty of winter as long as I don’t have to haul my old body outside. The pull is real to feel the fresh air on my face so I may dash out, raise my face to the sun and dash back inside to the warmth of my fireplace. Still, I feel the call of the front steps or the back steps for a peaceful sit.

Outdoor furniture awaits my porch sitting so why would I abandon that in place of the front steps? I think it has to do with my past and memories.

Living at my grandmothers and then when my family moved, we didn’t have fancy outdoor furniture. We would go outside and sit on the steps and talk and enjoy the evening. The front steps were better than the back steps because you could chat with those passing by or you could wave at the cars going by. Occasionally they would stop and talk.

There were interesting views. At my grandmother’s house I sat on the front steps and watched the trains go by or watched the animals. My mom or uncles would come in from the chores or the garden and we would talk for hours on the front steps. At our house my dad would sit with me as we watched the neighbor kids play or visited with those in the neighborhood, sometimes calling across the street. There were no cell phones or outdoor phones to distract us.

I do sit on my front concrete steps occasionally in this day and age for a quick moment when I am shaking out a rug or waiting for someone to pick me up, but most of the time I sit on my comfy chair on my outdoor porch or my patio. I have to say that for some reason it isn’t the same. Perhaps because of the front step memories.

I have no good explanation for yearning for my front steps unless it is perhaps missing those that used to share my experience. I also shared many front step conversations with my best girlfriends. If those steps could talk they would reveal so much about the past lives of the step sitters.

Perhaps when the ice is gone I will forgo my porch and patio for an occasional step sitting. I have a feeling it will be a good way to breathe and appreciate the simple life of the past,

“A journey to a thousand miles begins with one step.” –John F.Kennedy

Caring For Mom

A lovely lady died last week. Her name was Kitty and she was a mom, grandmother, and great grandmother.

I met Kitty through her daughter many, many years ago. It is this daughter and her family that triggered this subject on my blog today. It was the devotion of this family that garners my respect. They kept their mother in her home through difficult circumstances until her death last week.

Kitty always had a smile and a kind word for everyone. Her devotion to her family was undeniable. She leaves a legacy of two daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all of whom were by her side at her last hours even though some had to travel a distance to be there.

When Kitty’s health began to fail her oldest daughter left her life to move in with her mother to take care of her. She was there 24/7, only taking a few days here and there to go back to her home. There is another silent hero in this and that is my friend’s partner of 30 some years who supported her actions. This wasn’t just for a few short weeks but for a few years. The entire family rallied around Kitty to keep her happy, comfortable and in her home even as some confusion set in. It was not an easy task but their love for their mother fueled the decision.

Today I would like to honor this family with my words of respect and awe in the way they handled this difficult time in their lives. They honored a woman who gave them life, and they gave her life with their time until God chose to take her home.

Having lived in a household where my mother took care of her ailing mother I know the sacrifices that are made. The same thing happened in my husband’s family when they took care of his elderly grandparents with dementia. There are nights of no sleep, patience stretched slim and household chores, plus heavy lifting when loved ones can no longer carry their own weight when moving even a few steps.

The hard but easy choice for this family might have been a nursing home. Many of us make that decision and it might be the right choice for our loved ones or for ourselves. Each of us knows our limits and what we can or cannot do. We shouldn’t let anyone tell us the choice we make is wrong. We know ourselves and our family the best. Kitty’s family felt home was what they wanted for her.

Today our culture has the benefits of utilizing places that care for our elderly. Our parents and grandparents are cared for with staff who know how to navigate the road of old age. My mother and mother-in-law lived in these care facilities. I did not have the stamina to bring them into my home full time. That is why I  admire families that make a commitment to those they love.

Before nursing homes and assisted living the young took care of the old. They took parents into their homes and blended them into their life. Growing up I didn’t give it a thought that we lived with my grandmother, or that my uncles lived with my other grandmother. I just thought it was the way it was. I had other relatives whose grandparents lived with them too.

We all have different journeys. We all make different choices that are right for us and those we love. It is your journey and you will know what is best for you.

There are many studies that prove the elderly love longer with strong family connections. In other cultures, it is not unusual for grandma and grandpa to live with their families. According to the Blue Zones by Dan Buettner, grandparents who look after their grandchildren have a lower risk of death. Mixing the young and old is healthy and this appeared to be true in Kitty’s case with her last smiles an indication that she felt loved with her family by her side.

Kitty you will be missed.