The gift of time.
Today I am grateful for motherhood; for my own mother, for the opportunity to be a mother, for the lessons learned.
Motherhood is the most challenging of relationships, diametrically opposed and inextricably linked. The older I am, the more I regret my unkindness to my own mother and the more forgiving I am of the unkindness of my children. Maybe that’s just the way of things.
If there is one thing we can all agree on about this virus, this may be it. We just don’t understand CoVid-19.
Even with my background as a biochemist, I have trouble knowing what to believe about CoVid-19. In spite of all the hard work and the progress our scientific community has made, there are still more questions than answers. This virus is not like any we’ve seen before. CoVid 19 just doesn’t play by the rules; in fact, we don’t know what the rules are.
We tend to think of infectious disease as following a linear, or deterministic pattern. In other words, if I have the virus and I infect three people, then those three people infect three more, etc. But there have been instances in which many more people contracted the disease than the model would predict. The most well known example is that of the 61 member choir practice in Mt. Vernon, Washington on March 10 in which 53 contracted the virus and two died. Conversely, other gatherings of similar numbers, venues, climates, and age groups did not produce this high rate of infection. https://bit.ly/3cQcwgJ
It now appears that the virus can spread in clusters, some think by “super-spreaders” who are especially efficient at spreading the virus. But there is no way to know what makes someone a “super spreader.” There may be some as-yet undetermined characteristic that makes an individual especially infectious. Or, it could be that there are not “super spreader individuals”, but “super-spreader events” where people are singing, coughing, exercising, etc, especially in close, poorly ventilated spaces. https://bit.ly/33BnnYF
Think of the virus as second hand smoke. The closer you are, the more you inhale. So there’s no guarantee that you won’t inhale the smoke if you are 6 feet away, especially if you are in a poorly ventilated space and/or the smoker is coughing, talking loudly, etc. Similarly, even if you are outside, fresh air won’t protect you from the spray of virus from the shouting fan next to you in the bleachers. We can easily distance ourselves from the offending smoker. However, unlike the smoker, the infected person may be asymptomatic, have tested negative a week ago and is now positive, or be in the first few days of the incubation period. The CoVid positive person can look and feel perfectly healthy.
It is true that the death rate is low and some groups are more likely that others to have a serious infection. But recovered patients are experiencing long-term damage to heart, liver and lung as well as damage to hearing and cognitive function. Some of it appears to be non-reversible. https://mayocl.in/3nqPTUL
And there are so many unanswered questions. Can you get the virus more than once? Are there in utero effects? When will a vaccine be available and how effective will it be? What will be the effect of seasonal flu on the virus?
No one knows. But I do know what to do. Sadly, just as there’s no magic diet, my only way forward is the one I know so well; masks, social distancing and hand washing.
I am SO tired of this whole CoVid scene; the masks, the social distancing, the confinement. But the virus is not interested in my opinion. This is not a well-behaved virus.
It breaks my heart to think about the holidays this year. But like the Fauci’s we’ll be joining our family on Zoom. https://bit.ly/3nGPEVP
I wonder if anyone really truly believes this. So easy to buy into the lie that life is like a racetrack, a seemingly endless series of laps, a delusion
fueled by a culture that worships youth and marginalizes its elders.
I remember rolling my eyes when my mother and her friends launched into a litany of aches, pains and funeral reviews. I vowed I would never allow my world to shrink so small, become so focused on myself. I would be involved with life – would have far more important things to think about.
But to my chagrin, I find myself actively participating in these conversations with my friends nowadays. It is, after all, what is happening to us. One more thing to add to my list of things I vowed I would never do.
What I hadn’t counted on about growing old is that nothing stays the
same for very long. Some days are full of hope and good fortune. I am brimming over with gratitude for my friends, my family, my reasonably good health. Other days it takes all the strength I can summon to put one foot in front of the other, to stay the course.
If we haven’t learned life lessons along the way, if we don’t have friends and loved ones around us, if we don’t have creative outlets that give us joy, God help us. Because the older we get, the larger the challenges, the bigger the losses, the less we control.
Living a successful old age is hard work, in my opinion. I need all the resources I can muster. But no matter what my situation, I am in charge of the path I take. I always have choices.
And in the final analysis, it’s not that the road ends, it’s where it ends that matters.
Lately I find myself thinking about death a lot. Not in a morbid sense, just reflecting on the reality of it. The necessity of death for the rebirth of spring. The triumph of spring over the desolation of winter.
I’m not afraid of death, exactly. I’m not eager for it, but it’s harder to “fit in” to the world around me now and I don’t want to outlive my expiration date. I’m just not finished yet, there is still more to do, more to be.
This surprises me. By now I expected to be wise, surefooted and content to sit placidly with a cat or two, awash in memories of a life well lived.
Guess not. Maybe in a year or two.
A question I’ve been asking my entire life and I’m not alone. A Google search will return over 175,000 hits. Sadly, while they promise to dispel the myth of the Southern Belle, most characterizations eventually come down to sweet tea, southern accents, good manners, football and looking pretty with little attention to intellect. In other words, the Southern Belle.
I never bought this, and though I tried to be a southern belle in my teens, I could never quite make it work. And frankly, I don’t know that many southern belles. In my experience, the Southern Belle is just someone we made up to avoid the southern reality.
I always knew there was something else, something achingly beautiful and tragic that southern souls are compelled to share in spite of their differences. An elusive fragrance in the air, a whisper in the trees, a ghostly sprit in the bayous. Ingrained in childhood, handed down through generations, clinging to us tighter than skin. An elaborately crafted mantle designed to hide something dangerous. Something I couldn’t name.
But I think I know what it is now. It’s our heritage; the legacy of the Civil War. A war predicted to last a few months, that raged on for four years, taking the lives of 620,000 American men, more than all the wars to follow combined; approximately 20% of them under the age of 18.
And at the end, for the South, there was bitter defeat and a legacy of shame, poverty and rage
Wounded and weary, fathers, sons and husbands, reviled and shunned,straggled home to homes and crops devastated in the path of the war, while northern soldiers returned to a hero’s welcome to homes untouched by war for the most part, with fanfare.
Salt in wounds already festering. And yes, the slaves were freed, but with no support, no access to the tools they needed to prosper. Free, but not equal. And so the war ended long ago but the struggle continues. No wonder there is such free-floating rage in Southerners. It is rage born of grief that has nowhere to go but inside.
State sovereignty is sometimes offered as a righteous rationale for the war, and it’s tempting to cling to this slender reed. But the Civil War was about slavery and all of us bear the responsibility for it. Slavery existed in all 13 colonies prior to the Civil War. My ancestors owned slaves. Black people owned slaves as did American Indians. But none of this matters. Slavery is wrong. Just wrong.
But before I get too sanctimonious I realize I cannot know what I would have believed, or what I would have done, in a time when slavery was the acceptable norm. I can only hope I would have had the clear-minded courage to speak my truth.
I take some solace in the knowledge that not all legacies of the Civil War were bad. The southern woman rose from its ashes. Left with farms and businesses to run and children to raise, they had to be strong to survive. They relied on each other; they formed strong communities. Their faith was their only source of hope through terrible loss and deprivation. They had to be resourceful to provide for their basic needs; they made clothing and quilts from draperies, feed sacks, scraps from worn out clothing. Together they birthed their children and buried their dead. Food was scarce, they had to raise their own; they became expert gardeners and didn’t flinch at killing a chicken or butchering a hog. They were recyclers before there were recycling bins. The land and its creatures provided their needs and so were respected; they were environmentalists before Greenpeace. They found beauty to ease their harsh lives in the things they had; a rose, a treasured teacup, a button from a favorite dress.
So it’s not surprising that southern women are strong, that they are passionate about family and community. That they are unapologetic about their religious faith and famous for their elegant quilts, their welcoming homes, their sumptuous recipes and lush gardens. That they value hard work and frugality.
These are the Southern women I know.
It’s true, you’ll know a Southern woman by her accent and colorful turn of phrase. She has good manners and she won’t leave home without her makeup. But she is made of stronger stuff. Much stronger.