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Gratitude emerges amid pandemic disruptions

This was published April 28, 2020 in The Buffalo News. Love 'n Stuff 'n Good Health, Nancy

My View

By Nancy Davidoff Kelton

I was born and raised in Buffalo. Since college, I have lived in New York City, working at home as a writer, and talking to myself. Now my husband, Jonathan, works at home. I have to talk to him.

Other than that, I have not much changed my routine. Or my clothes.

The only people who have seen my early March haircut are Jonathan, grocery store cashiers and shoppers, including one who sneezed too close to me, and the Union Square Whole Foods security guard letting in senior citizens at 7:30 a.m. I am grateful I can shop without being near close sneezers.

About my haircut, my mother would have said, “it falls into place nicely.” She and I talked about my hair and clothes. She called my black tops “dreary,” and urged me to wear bright colors with flowers and flamingos.

I miss our talks about my dreary clothes. If she were alive, I would feel guilty that she is in the Weinberg Campus on North Forest Road. I would be sad I could not visit her.

I miss my children and grandchildren, who live in California. I had hoped to go out there this month. Our FaceTimes now include bedtime stories. I put on earrings, lipstick and eye makeup for the first time in a month to read “Dog vs. Cat.” It is a funny, touching, sophisticated story. I bought myself a copy in December when I bought it for my grandson at his request. I love that he appreciates this book. I love him, his sister and parents more.

Jonathan read them “Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now.” I still have the copy I bought for my daughter 39 years ago. I often read children’s books when I am alone. Dr. Seuss’ “Yertle the Turtle” about overthrowing a despicable ruler gives me solace now.

I miss my New School classroom. I have been a writing instructor there since 1980. A technically competent substitute is teaching my April sessions remotely. My students are probably as grateful as I am that I do not have to Zoom.

I do not miss my cleaning person. I have not had one in years. Unlike friends whose housekeepers are working remotely and sending them instructions, I clean more often, more thoroughly, and with more disinfectants than I did before. I clean more than I shower.

I do not miss my vacation home. I do not have one of those either. A friend told me she is hunkering down “out east,” not in East Hampton, to avoid sounding like a snot nose. I reminded her that owning an East Hampton beach house is not what makes someone a snot nose and that she is a caring friend.

I do not miss the gym. Squatting, lifting weights and staring at the bodies of women half my age never thrilled me. I love walking along the Hudson River with the Statue of Liberty in view. I think about my grandparents’ journeys, arrivals and quarantines. I think about Don Corleone’s, too.

I miss hugging my family “out west.” I miss feeling safe back east. I am grateful Andrew Cuomo is our governor and that thousands of mental health care professionals have volunteered their services in New York State. I may voluntarily share my terror remotely. I am grateful my time is not yet up, and in between eating five daily meals, I often beat Jonathan at Scrabble.

Nancy Davidoff Kelton, a Buffalo-born writer, is the author of seven books, including "Writing From Personal Experience," and her memoir, “Finding Mr. Rightstein,” which she is adapting for the stage.


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