Updated: May 6, 2021
To quote Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, “Life is beautiful and terrible and strange.” In the past year these words have taken on particular relevance.
Now that spring is officially here, we are beginning to notice more daylight, warmer temperatures, birds singing and crocuses poking their buds from the sleepy earth.
This provides some welcome hope as more and more of our loved ones receive the vaccine. At the same time we’re warned of the spreading of new variants and cases continue to rise. Doctors and healthcare workers battle the third wave and we are ready to cry with weariness and frustration.
It is important that we continue to mask up, maintain social distancing measures and follow guidelines to protect ourselves and each other, just when we’ve had enough of winter, of Covid and of being separated from family and friends.
One of the things that brings me hope is the resourcefulness people have shown coping with lockdowns and restrictions. Restaurants have switched to take-out. Musicians are performing online. Curbside pickups and convenient websites are the new norm in the retail sector as businesses fight to survive. We have had to become creative as well, in trying to care for each other.
Single and living on my own, I am grateful for technology as it provides a precious link to the people I love. I try not to dwell on the fact that I haven’t hugged my mom in over a year. At the same time I realize how lucky I am to have her in my life. She is living at home in a condo with my brother to look after her. She is such an inspiration to me as she remains positive even as she is confined, for the most part, at home. She does her pilates classes on zoom, Facetimes like a pro and makes regular contributions to our FamJam messaging group. Her sense of humour, intelligence and engagement in our lives has not diminished in the face of ongoing isolation.
My mother turned 90 on March 16th. Last year, for her 89th, we had a family zoom party, complete with games and lots of laughter and merriment. This year there are still occasional zoom parties and Facetimes with multiple people (we were all so proud to master the technology) but we wanted to do something special.
My family decided we would have a small back yard party. There had been some unseasonably warm days but we planned for the Sunday before her birthday. I guess it could have been colder out, but it was cold enough. A full meal was out of the question, due to the wintery weather. We settled for cake and tea. My sister-in-law, who hosted, made Irish coffees as well as the birthday cake.
We were all bundled up and masked, of course, and there were lots of throws, shawls and sweaters on hand to ward off impending hypothermia. But our hearts were warm as toast, and my mom loved her party.
There were balloons, there was cake and home-made ice cream (we were already out in freezing temperatures, why not?) there were gifts, there were animals (my sister brought her dog, who was so happy to see me she actually licked my eyes, and there was a new kitten to meet as well) there were family members of all ages (although there were only 10 of us). But the best surprise of all was the arrival of my niece with my mom’s new great-grandson. Bundled up in his carrier, he slept through it all.
One of the weirder family birthdays we’ve celebrated but so much fun and so special for my mom, who managed to stay outside and keep warm. I’m lucky to have such a close family. The love we have for each other can’t be confined by masks, Covid, or March in Ontario.
It made me realize the necessity of using our hearts, minds and creativity to take care of ourselves and each other, to find hope in the grey days ahead, to look forward to better times while remaining vigilant, and to find inspiration wherever and whenever we can. Life can seem terrible and strange, especially now, but there is always beauty to be found.