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What Will We Choose to Remember About This Time?

In looking back, was it only a few months ago that we would describe life as being ‘normal’? How is it possible that we are experiencing nostalgia for things that happened only a few weeks ago – things that may not have even mattered that much.

It seems embarrassingly trivial to recall what I was involved with and what held such priority in my life those few months ago. It was in December that my husband and I were putting together ideas for our trip in March to Portugal. I had several tourist books to consult and time to create itineraries. There were the usual many details that are involved in coordinating travel. That period of planning seems long long ago.

Once it became obvious that the carefully planned trip would not make the list of places we have explored, the project turned to becoming a battle to securing our money back. This ongoing project has also become rather trivial in the scope of things.

If the worst thing that happens to us during this pandemic is the loss of our airline costs, we will count ourselves extremely lucky.

So many of our pre Covid ‘worries’ or tasks we were wrapped up in seem to hold little importance now. Except, those are the things that bring us to a place of remembering we have meaning and value in our lives and the nostalgia of those times may just help us face the future in a more hopeful manner.

Everyone can rattle off a list of at least ten things missing from their ‘before Coronavirus’ lives. Everyone can list several things they are going to do once there is some semblance of normalcy.

This past weekend, the sun shone bright and finally we were able to enjoy a backyard sit, a bicycle ride, and several long walks all while wearing masks. Conversation turned to how lucky we are to live in this country where losing our freedoms feels harsh and no doubt about it, is emotionally challenging, but yet we believe there is hope for a return to many of those freedoms with perhaps some tweaks.

I wonder what we will say about these months in 2020. What will we remember? What might we be nostalgic about from the time of the pandemic? Appreciating the things that make this time different might help find growth opportunities and maybe leave us with good memories that we become nostalgic over. Is it possible to concentrate on that side of things to steer us away from the pain of what we have lost?

Of course if you have lost a job, lost a relationship, lost a loved one, lost income, been separated from family, have no food, lost your business, cannot pay your bills, there is a lot of grief to cope with. It will be a hard proposition to find things that you will end up missing about this particular time in history. Yet, it could be what reinvigorates us to believing that life has meaning.

All of us have a heightened appreciation of our essential workers. Many are doing their jobs so that we can continue in our lives with some regularity. Who could ever doubt the dedication and hours a teacher gives to our children? Is it even possible to thank what many first responders are doing to save lives every day? Our grocery store workers who make sure shelves are stocked so that we can bring food home – did you ever consider that more than a job before? The countless volunteers making sure our elders are fed and cared for may never have crossed our minds previously.

I hope we always appreciate these workers and always remember them when we look back at 2020. This new level of respect and appreciation should carry on forever. The year 2020 is designated as the Year of the Nurse. This has proven to be especially fitting.

With the alarming Covid deaths of our older adults, much attention has been focused on our long term care facilities – the residents and those heroes working to provide quality of life to our elders. Anyone working in eldercare knows the situation in our nursing homes has been challenging for years. Agencies like Elder Services of Merrimack Valley & North Shore provide home care services to keep our elders living in their homes longer. If this pandemic brings about changes that will make a difference for older adults and their families and those who work in the facilities, we will look upon this as a positive result. We need more attention brought to the care of those in their later years.

For me, I will miss the quiet of a morning walk. There are so few cars and walking through my neighborhood in the early hours allows me to hear the birds and to hear the quiet. Nature seems oblivious to the changes in the world and all of nature is simply carrying on. The trees are bursting with blossoms and rambunctious fox pups are playing outside their dens, allowing me a glimpse into their day. It is an opportunity to appreciate the small things in life, those things that have no price tag attached.

I have enjoyed letting go of some of the trappings we women fall under. The coiffed hair that I know I will continue to care for once I have no excuse but for now, letting it be untamed and a little wild with grey, has been rather freeing. Who knew I could feel that way about hair showing its age? It has not bothered me in the least.

I have not missed shopping or trying to stay current with fashion trends. I still love fashion and clothes but I literally have two outfits I mix and match up for leisure wear indoors. Sweat pants, jeans, and t-shirts round out my choices. It is so easy. You get up in the morning and there lie the choices eager to be part of your day – again. You could save time by just sleeping in the outfits but I have not gone to that level – yet.

I am no longer sure what is actually in my closet. I never look in it. I may not even bother making the switch of seasonal clothes except for bringing a couple pair of shorts into the mix. The t-shirts will transition just fine.

I have enhanced my healthy cooking habits. And because everyone understands what ‘comfort foods’ mean, you really don’t have to hide some of the less than healthy choices you might make. For the most part, I concoct a sweet thing each day and imbibe in my most favorite food, ice cream, almost nightly. We have graduated to buying tub sized ice cream and before, I would have compared sugar content etc., but now I ignore labels. All things chocolate are welcome to fill my cabinets. It is a judgment free zone.

Because of this crazy time we are in, I have connected with a couple of old high school friends, people I have not seen in over 40 years. I am tied to these friends in a way that would not have happened without this sudden life change. With all the years that have passed, we now look back on shared moments and remind one another of things we may have forgotten about. We have drawn closer than we ever were as much younger girls and women.

Time has been handed to us and although it sometimes feels like the emptiness of that time triggers boredom, loneliness, feelings of meaningless or thoughts of our own mortality, I have treasured the time to dig out some old photos and be reminded of those nostalgic moments. The nostalgia can reduce stress and be a way to cope with facing the future.

Recently my food blogger daughter created a healthy Nanaimo bar recipe (a famous Canadian sweet treat) and I reminded her that her Nan, my mother, was known for her bars, although she referred to them as Dominos. I have an old recipe box of my mothers and wondered if I could find her recipe. Yes, I did, and so after photographing the box, I was able to share with her for inclusion in her upcoming blog for the recipe.

The beauty of nostalgia is that it can comfort us and bring us surging into the future, knowing our lives have meaning. This time of fear and uncertainty will provide us with moments we will hold onto and want to reminisce over some day. Despite the gravity of the situation, there will be positive changes that emerge.

 

Our Information and Referral Services department is available to assist our consumers, all professionals, and our community partner agencies during this Coronavirus crisis. Our dedicated staff is working remotely but nothing changes in the ways they can help.

To reach our Information and Referral Services Department in Danvers please call 978-750-4540; email info@nselder.org or make a web referral via our website at nselder.org/contact-us/referral-form/.

To reach our Information and Referral Services Department in Lawrence please call 978-683-7747 or email info@esmv.org.

Author Info
Jayne Girodat is the Communications Specialist at Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley and North Shore, Inc. Along with ten years in the position of Caregiver Support Specialist at another ASAP, Jayne was a long-distance caregiver to parents for the same amount of time. That experience serves as motivation to better understand the issues of aging and to engage people in conversations about those issues. Jayne’s background in teaching contributes to her appreciation of social media as a tool to educate readers on aging concerns. “I love asking people questions. Everyone likes to be heard. When you ask and then listen, you’ll find everyone has a story and some of those stories are gems. I think it is particularly important to hear the voices of our older adults. Those are the stories I really connect to and hope to bring to North Shore Elder Services’ audience.”