My Pandemic Thoughts and Gratitude
Dear Readers: My below essay was in THE FORWARD. Stay well. XXX nancy
April 23, 2020
Nancy Davidoff Kelton
During a pandemic too, I am grateful for these things
I do not leave my apartment except to do laundry in the basement, walk to the grocery store or to the Hudson River to make sure the Statue of Liberty is still standing. I appreciate these life-affirming activities along with extra time at home to go within.
The following includes what I have been thinking about and some ways I am blessed:
I look better in a mask than without one.
And best in the one my student, Jessie, made me with my name embroidered. Jessie is making masks for medical personnel and embroidering “Thank you, Hero” inside. Jessie majored in giving before the pandemic. She is among my heroes.
People are who they are. More so now.
Mixing and matching night and day pajama tops and bottoms is becoming fun.
I am grateful 50 years ago I discovered the rewards of teaching.
I am grateful three weeks ago I, a technically challenged person, discovered how to Zoom teach without losing my students or mind.
Friends who make bread from scratch do not intimidate me because I am busy Zoom teaching and changing my pajamas. I am fine that my five daily meals do not include home-baked anything.
I am cheered up by emails from my 84-year-old friend, Carol. Her husband, age 86, asked her if she would like to have sex. She said, “With whom?”
I am grateful for my health, our health care workers, my wonderful husband, Jonathan, my wonderful family, Governor Cuomo, the courage and spirit of New Yorkers, and our 7:00 pm citywide gratitude cheer.
I am grateful I am not childless, grandchildless, penniless, homeless, humorless.
When I Facetime my California family, laugh with friends, caucus with my muse, connect with students or play Scrabble with Jonathan, I temporarily forget about our horror show of a president.
And the coronavirus.
Reality hits when I work with a longtime student who has it and when Jonathan’s friend, who had it, died.
It hits every day and night when I watch the news.
And hear Trump speak, look at his face, and see our nursing homes.
I think about my mother’s last years in a nursing home.
And all the hugs I wish I gave her.
And all I did not say.
I am grateful for my husband’s warm, bilingual Aunt Nelly, now my Aunt Nelly. She reminds me in English, not French, that: I am as valued a family member and human being as Jonathan, she is glad she knows me, my writing matters and so do I.
I am grateful for everyone who makes me feel emotionally safe, grateful too for social distancing so I can legitimately avoid those who don’t.
I remembered where I put the purple sweater I bought in February and how to apply eyeliner. I wore both for the first time in weeks to Facetime read “Dog vs. Cat” to my grandchildren.
I bought myself “Dog vs. Cat” when I bought it for my grandson at his request. It’s a touching, hilarious, sophisticated book. I love that he wanted it. I love him, and his sister, and their parents more.
I am comforted reading children’s books to them and to myself. My favorites now are “Yertle the Turtle” which is about overthrowing a despicable ruler and “Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!” also a cry of anger to someone to go away.
Friends from Buffalo, my hometown, bring me joy.
So does the picture one posted on Facebook of Paul Newman with a story about him. No need for the story when we have Paul.
I am terrified of the virus and our present world.
I am grateful that thousands of mental health care professionals have volunteered their services.
I may share my terror with one or more.
I am grateful they are still nodding and my time is not yet up.
Nancy Davidoff Kelton, a New School and Strand Bookstore writing instructor, is the author of essays in The New York Times, Hadassah Magazine and the Boston Globe among other publications and 7 books including a memoir, “Finding Mr. Rightstein” which she is adapting into a play with the same title. The Jewish Repertory Theatre of Western New York will have a staged reading June 8.