By MARILYN SHAPIRO
Some day—hopefully in the near future—the COVID-19 pandemic will be behind us. Medical interventions to those infected will alleviate the pain, suffering, and deaths. A vaccine may be developed that can prevent others from becoming ill. Social distancing will no longer be necessary. We can go back to our lives, our jobs, our schools, our vacations, and our celebrations and observances.
Larry, my husband, and I have been sheltering in place since March 10, leaving our house only for daily exercise and essential outings. We consider ourselves very fortunate. We still get our pension checks and our social security. Even though we are considered more vulnerable because of our age, we are—so far—not dealing personally with COVID-19 illness. We are not trying to balance working from our kitchen table while homeschooling our children. We have few appointments and fewer deadlines.
These past few weeks have given us a perspective as to what is important. Once we have the required essentials such as toilet paper, masks, disinfectants/hand sanitizers, and a well-stocked kitchen, what do we deem necessary to get through the COVID-19 pandemic?
Here is my own Top Ten List:
1. Real News
Larry and I have gotten a newspaper delivered to our doorstep since we bought our first house in 1976. When we moved to Florida, we immediately subscribed to the Orlando Sentinel. I can’t imagine my morning coffee without the news, and our life would be a little emptier without the comics and puzzles. In the same way, I look forward to getting The Jewish World in my mailbox every two weeks to get the Jewish perspective. We have on-line subscriptions to the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the New Yorker. They were invaluable to me before the pandemic but even more important now.
Now that the pickleball courts, the pools, and the gym are all shuttered, Larry and I alternate between riding our bikes and taking long walks every morning. We get some fresh air and have the opportunity to wave and say hi to friends and neighbors.
3. A Sarong
If we were up north, we would probably be living in sweatshirts and pants. As Florida’s temperatures rarely go below 75 degrees, I love my sarongs. They are comfortable and no-fuss and keep the laundry to a minimum.
4. A Kindle
Through the miracle of modern technology, I have access to public library with just a few clicks of the computer. If the book isn’t available, I place a hold and get an e-mail telling me when it is available. Best reads so far: The Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes and She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement by New York Times’ writers Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey.
5. Amazon Prime and Netflix
We can’t go to the movies, and every live performance has been cancelled. But we finally have the time to watch all those series that were on our to-do list. Larry and I can recommend “Unorthodox,” “Schitt’s Creek,” and “Bomb Girls.” I also have “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “The Crown” in my queue.
6. My Writing
Our calendars are pretty bare, but I still have my deadline for the articles I write for The Jewish World. Writing gives me a purpose. Recently, my articles about COVID-19 have helped me cope and put things in perspective. Once the article is published, I put it on my blog and my FaceBook page. I love the sense of accomplishment I get from completing an article and love the feedback I get from those that follow me. (Hint! Hint! theregoesmyheart.me)
With all the restaurants closed and take-out options few and far between in our area, dinner is a main event. We even have a nightly happy hour with homemade hors d’oeuvre. Every Friday, we have a Shabbat meal complete with a kiddish, candle lighting, and homemade challah. Ironically, along with toilet paper and hand sanitizer, yeast has also been in short supply. I finally bit the bullet and overpaid for a pound of yeast on Amazon so that I don’t have to worry about finding it in our supermarket. I make three or four loaves a week and drop off one or two to neighbors who need some cheering up.
8. Our Lanai
Our lanai, which looks out on a small pond and a heavily wooded area, is our favorite place in our home. We are entertained by Florida wildlife, including a resident alligator, an assortment of birds, and a rare bobcat sighting. It is where Larry and I spend our afternoons, reading our books and doing our puzzles. The lanai table is my office, where I do my writing. And it is where we eat dinner every night.
9. Video Chats
The hardest part of our quarantined life is not being with family and friends. Our trip to California to see our grandson and our summer plans for Colorado are on indefinite hold. At least four times a week, we FaceTime with our almost five-year-old granddaughter. We read her books, tell her stories, and watch her play. We usually end the call with her “reading” a book she has memorized to us. Holding our grandson is impossible, but my son and daughter-in-law are good about setting up the camera so we can watch him for a chunk of time. We Skype with Larry’s side of the family on Sunday morning and Zoom with my side of the family on Monday night.
10. Our Support System
Absolutely nothing that I have listed would be possible without those who continue to work. People still deliver our newspaper, our mail, and our packages that we have ordered on-line. In my community, people still mow our lawns and pick up our trash and recyclables. Those who work in essential businesses— pharmacies, supermarkets, and gas stations— still fill prescriptions, stock shelves and run cash registers. A delivery service drops our groceries on our front porch. Most importantly, our first responders and all those who work in the medical field put their own lives on the line every day to try to save the lives of family members and friends who have been infected. I am grateful to every one of them. We can best show our appreciation by doing whatever we can to prevent further spread of this epidemic.
Stay safe, Stay healthy, Stay home!
Marilyn Shapiro, formerly of Clifton Park, is now a resident of Kissimmee, Fla. A second compilation of her articles printed in The Jewish World has been published. Tikkun Olam now joins There Goes My Heart. Shapiro’s blog is theregoesmyheart.me.