Archive | May, 2020

The Fatigue of Caution

31 May

Denial – Anger – Bargaining – Depression – Acceptance

We are all familiar with Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief. In the case of Covid19, acceptance has been a moving target. What the heck are we accepting anyway? Oops, that sounded just a tad like anger…sigh.

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Kindergarten 

When I was a kid in the 50’s, eons ago, I had asthma. The doctors had no definitive diagnostic tools and threw everything but the kitchen sink at my poor parents. I slept in an crank up hospital bed since I couldn’t breathe lying flat. For months I wasn’t allowed to get my hair wet. No swimming. My mother, bless her heart, found a dry shampoo to clean my hair. With three younger than me, it must have made her life difficult.

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I remember having difficulty breathing looking at this picture.

One doctor wanted to remove my tonsils, yikes. Thank God that didn’t happen. I’m probably one of the few people of that era with intact tonsils.

Then came allergy testing. There were weeks of trays of needles used to insert little pillows of allergens under the skin up and down my arms. My mother would take me for an ice cream sundae after appointments. I cherished the time alone with her. I hated the needles.

The list of things I was allergic to was a mile long, chocolate, chicken, mold, dogs, dust. For a year my mother adhered as much as possible to a strict diet for me (we did not however get rid of the dog). Five children and one a special needs kid must have been hard. Nothing seemed to help my asthma, fatigue set in, and the diet went out the window.

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So many pictures had dark circles under my eyes.

Being constantly on guard is exhausting. Whether it’s monitoring a diet or the distance someone stands nearby in the grocery store, it gets old. The stages of grief are not linear. I’m at the point where I want everyone else to be really really careful so I don’t have to be. Is that denial or bargaining? How long can I continue to look over my shoulder? Will I be locked in this house forever?

All I can do is take care of today. Lisa and I talk and make decisions day by day and don’t look back. We also try not to look forward which is very different. We always had our eyes down the road. Not any more.

Please stay home if you can. Take care of vulnerable populations around you. Be especially kind to our essential workers. Know that I love you.

DOS TORTAS

When all is over, I will look for you and I will hug you so tight that we will forget time.

When all is over, I will need you more than ever.

(Translated from The Cathedral Restaurant, Oaxaca, Mexico)

 

A Lesson from Boredom

23 May

I stayed at home to raise my three children for ten years in the 80s to 90s. I know many women do not find the routine of child care, household chores or family life fulfilling or mentally stimulating. Staying home sounds boring.

Dylan, Cullen, Felice 1986

As my children aged, I went back to school to earn a master’s degree and spent many years working in the field of public health. I’ve experienced both sides of the equation, both staying home and working in a busy career. While I enjoyed my job, the meetings, travel, presentations and grant writing, I’ll take staying home any day.

I used to think that full time motherhood prepared me for the much anticipated retirement, when in actuality it prepared me for the isolation of a world pandemic. Don’t get me wrong, I totally respect today’s parents and the challenges they face that couldn’t have been imagined in my time. I simply mean that I have no trouble filling my days with quiet yet stimulating activity. I am extremely privileged to have adequate income. Living in Mexico means our expenses are few. The gas tank sits full.

1999/2012

I guess we never know how today’s experiences will prepare us for the future. One thing is certain, life as we knew it will never be the same. And in the opinion of many, myself included, that will be a very good thing.

DOS TORTAS

Praying To My Mother

10 May

When my mother was alive she used to tell me that she would pray to her mother, my grandmother. Nan loved to gamble. Bingo was her favorite and nickel slots in Atlantic City. I’m not sure you would call that gambling but it kept her entertained. Mom would go on a cruise, play the slot machines and pray to my grandmother to help her win. I would chuckle and roll my eyes. What did I know?

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My first religious experience. 1952 my mother was 30.

My mother and I were extremely different. She was very religious and me not so much. I never got the whole “praying” concept. I figured if God were omniscient, what would be the point? I’ve heard people pray to get things, as if God were their own personal Amazon Prime in the sky. It never made much sense to me.

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A bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding.

I’m figuring out what prayer is for me. It’s about taking stock and being grateful. I’ve been praying when I’m afraid, acknowledging my selfishness, and expressing my desire to learn to be kind. God doesn’t talk back much and that’s ok. Sometimes I need someone to listen.

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My mother and I shared a love for dance.

I’ve been thinking about my mother a lot lately and realizing that I’ve had a lot of judgements about her and taken some of her choices personally. I wish we could sit down over a cup of tea, something we didn’t do when she was here. Happy Mother’s Day Mom and to all of you. It’s time to make peace even if our moms are long gone. So I pray to her in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. She doesn’t say much, but I do think she listens and that’s just fine.

DOS TORTAS

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A Plague Of Biblical Proportion

3 May

We all are familiar (or should be), with Charlton Heston in the 1956, academy award winning movie, The Ten Commandments. Playing the part of Moses, Heston hails down locusts and turns water into blood as he blackmails the Romans into releasing the Hebrews from slavery. The plagues do the trick and the Hebrews are released from generations of bondage to wander in the desert.

 

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These days the southern Mexico village of Bacalar seems to be living through its own plague of biblical proportion. Situated on the Lake of Seven Colors, Bacalar has returned to the quiet little village we moved to seven years ago. The streets and park are empty. There has been one reported case of plague number one, Covid-19. The  campaign #quédateencasa or Stay Home along with the lack of tourists seems to be doing the trick. People are hurting but they are not dying in large numbers.

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Plague number two is drought. We can’t even remember the last time it rained in southern Mexico. The jungle is brown and crunchy. Crops are nonexistent and the once lush, green jungle is quickly disappearing.

Plague number three, mosquitoes seems unlikely given plague number two. Drought doesn’t usually increase the mosquito population. Each year we anxiously wait for the rain but know that rain brings mosquitoes, dengue, zica, chikungunya and maleria. None of these diseases is fatal, but the plague of mosquitoes is annoying as hell.

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I believe that plague number four is causing the mosquito infestation, the fires, Dealing With The Burn. Mosquitoes are driven from lowlands by burning jungle and relocated to Bacalar. We are dealing with itchy eyes, scratchy throat and painful lungs. People are screaming on Facebook but the authorities seem to have bigger fish to fry. Generations of clearing land with fire are not abandoned readily, regardless of the environmental impact.

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It’s hard not to take it personally, although locals suffer far more than immigrants. We are hanging in there, not kidding ourselves that “this will be over soon”. Hopefully God is not mad at us, although sometimes it feels that way. 

DOS TORTAS

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