Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Ode to My Grandmothers

Well, the 2 weeks that we were to "work from home" came and went. The governor of VA rocked my little world last week by saying that schools in Virginia would not return at all this year. Then came the announcement from him again yesterday that only essential travel and gatherings of 10 people or less will remain in place until JUNE 10th. June 10th?!

I am an identified introvert. I am an INFJ on the Myers Briggs. Many people- including myself- said I was made for this moment. And I will admit, when it was originally just a "work from home" for two weeks, I was all in. I was super excited about my online lesson plans. I was tweeting about all of the new resources that teachers could try and the cool things our students were doing. I was setting up virtual game nights for my friends.

But after those previously mentioned announcements were made, even my introvert heart started to sink. I live alone and I love it. And even though school would maybe not be my sole choice for extroversion, it at least allowed me guaranteed interaction each day. On the weekends, my friends and I would attend the latest gallery or restaurant openings. And if none of my friends were available for something, I would go to a museum or concert or coffee shop by myself just to get out.

Now I know I can't complain. We are in this situation because people are suffering. I am glad that we are making sacrifices as a country so that we can stop the spread of this virus to the most vulnerable. And as I mentioned in my last post, it comes at the almost too perfect time of Lent when we are to be sacrificing anyways.

But the thought of not being able to celebrate Holy Week, not being able to celebrate Easter with my family or the Church. Celebrating birthdays or Happy Hours via Google Hangouts...this was not part of the original Lenten plan for sure.

I feel like a lot of comparisons are being made to other times in history right now. Our current president has referred to himself as a "War Time" president. And maybe this is as close to that as we have gotten in this recent generation. But if I am to think about my grandparents' generation, the sacrifices and situations certainly don't even compare. But they do give me solace and strength at this time.

For example...

My Grandma Strukely and I in 2007. She passed away a few years later in 2011 at age 94. 

My Grandma Strukely was one of 5 kids and lived through the Great Depression and World War II in America. Her husband (my grandfather whom I never met) passed away when they had three young children (my dad was only six). She had to work as a single mother and raise three children on her own. She didn't drive and used to take the bus and walk everywhere. She never remarried. I remember thinking about when she passed how much she had to endure and how strong she was, though she never ever complained to me about her life.

My Babci was quite the opposite however...
My Babci and I at my Masters graduation 2013. She passed away last year in 2019 at age 96. 

My Babci always made her story and struggle known to us. And she truly did have to endure a lot. She was born in a small farming village in Poland. She was in her early 20s when World War II broke out. She had to live WWII with the reality of what the Germans were doing all around her. Her husband (my Dzia Dzia aka grandpa) was taken to work in the Concentration Camps. He made it out of them, but that horrific experience lived with them forever. She had to immigrate with my young uncle by herself to the States while my grandfather went before them to work and find a place. She cleaned houses to make money. She worked in a factory. She would always tell you that her life was tough. But she still brought joy to everyone around her and made them feel loved.

These women and their experiences certainly shaped my parents and myself. I believe I have the best of both of their strength inside of me. My Grandma Strukely was more introverted like myself and didn't necessarily always have to have people around her. But she did always have her make up on and herself put together. My Babci was much more extroverted and could care less about her outerwear, and people were drawn to her despite and maybe because of her straightforwardness and sass.

During this time, I think about what they would do. Since both of them were widowed for most of (or all) of my life, they were on their own like me. My Grandma Strukely was somewhat of a homebody, but would take a lot of walks since she didn't drive. She was always reading or on the phone or doing a crossword. The TV was usually on in the background with the news or Wheel of Fortune. My Babci ran around the house and to every store and Church and everywhere she could until her body wouldn't let her anymore. Again, I feel like both of them right now. I know now how my Babci might've felt when she couldn't go on all her outings anymore. I know the extrovert in her would be upset over this time, too. But she would do word searches, or paint, or knit, or talk on the phone as well if she had to. They would reach out and call people when they need to.

It's time for me to channel the strength and experiences of my grandmothers now. I need their strength to help me through this uncertain time. They endured way more uncertainty than this and did it on their own as well. I need to channel the way they busied and entertained themselves when they couldn't move around as they wanted to anymore.

What about you and your families? Who are your role models that you are channeling right now? These are certainly unprecedented times for us in many ways. But there are also many who came before us that can give us a guiding light.


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