Easter has always been a special time in our family – a time of renewal, personal growth and perhaps relief that the personal sacrifices of Lent are finally over. When my brothers and I were small it was a big deal what you gave up for Lent. I remember one year giving up candy. And then a friend of my parents came for a visit. She brought three big Hershey bars for my brothers and me. We put them in the freezer section of our refrigerator to preserve them till Lent was over. In the 1940’s the freezer section was very small – in our case we had two shelves that held ice cube trays. We squeezed the Hershey bars in on top of the trays. I remember so clearly running to the frig at noon on Easter Saturday when the fast was officially over. The freezer wasn’t working properly and water had condensed on the chocolate. They were ruined – they tasted terrible. With the passage of time I finally understood that Lent was more meaningful if the focus was on positivity – doing spiritual reading, attending holy week services, being present in a meaningful way to those in need with some self denial thrown in to make the Lenten experience complete.
The church Jerry and I attend, St John Neumann, has been amazing in its efforts to serve the spiritual needs of its parishioners. When my mother reached the age where physically going to church was difficult, and my priestly brother was not available to say a home mass she got spiritual solace from televised masses. I just couldn’t relate but I was happy for her. Now I understand. Easter morning Jerry and I watched the streamed mass from our church. It could not have been more powerful – more meaningful.
Covid 19 is an interruption of family traditions. In our almost 60 years of marriage Jerry and I have always celebrated this holy time with family. And thanks to the marvels of Zoom and under the guidance of tech wizard granddaughter Annie, we were still all able to be together. Joined on the screen were family members from California to Quebec, to New Jersey, to Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, and Virginia. There was time for sharing , albeit briefly so that all who wanted to would have time to talk, and that was followed by a family sing-a-long. Granted being together is the absolute best but this was a darn good substitute.
Covid 19 offers many opportunities for positivity. The pandemic is here. We can’t ignore it so we might as well make the best of it. To quote singer/ songwriter Townes Van Zandt ” To live is to fly both low and high, so shake the dust off of your wings and the tears out of your eyes”. As Jerry and I take walks through our community – maintaining our social distancing – I continue to be touched by the hellos and waves from fellow walkers – many of whom we don’t know. There just seems to be an air of “we are all in this together”. We are the oldest residents by far on our twelve home cul- de- sac – this was not the case when we moved in thirty years ago. We have been touched by the thoughtfulness of our neighbors’ offers of grocery shopping help. Our niece Mary and her family live just a few miles from us in a neighboring community. Holy Saturday she arrived at our front door with a loaf of freshly baked bread, a beautiful Easter lily and some family pictures. We stood outside – at a safe distance – and caught up on family news – it was lovely!
Jerry and I would never choose to be quarantined but it is OK. We have a loose schedule to our days and I think some form of schedule is important. Exercise is a must, Not only the daily floor exercises that are essential to keeping our various body parts functioning, but also some form of walking either on the golf course or exploring new areas in our community. Online bridge has been challenging and fun. We belong to the Lake Ann bridge group and this morning we participated in their kick off electronic gathering. We have played online bridge with friends in Florida and with my brother at his home in the Shenandoah.
Electronic devices are so helpful both in helping us to stay in touch and in providing meaningful activities. We love the online weekly Scrabble games with son Jerry and grandson Jeremy and his friend Amy. I read somewhere that we should approach electronic gatherings – either with one person or with many as though we are actually getting together in person and dress and prepare accordingly. I try to follow that idea. And perhaps it was a stretch but before our Easter gathering I even sprayed on some of my favorite perfume that I know the older granddaughters like. I was already so excited about our impending electronic gathering – this cranked up the excitement even more.
In this pandemic time Jerry and I sometimes reflect on our own parents in the 1918 pandemic. My parents were older teenagers. Jerry’s parents were in their early twenties. How were their daily lives impacted? We wish we could talk with them about that time in their lives. Was it a lonely time for them? A scary time? What kind of restrictions were they under? Jerry and I know that we are truly blessed in the love and caring of our Family!!!