Worries of a Covid Captive Grandma

Before the pandemic, unless I was traveling, I would see my grandkids every other week. I would arrive at their house at noon, stay overnight and then leave around noon the next day. Since the new normal, I have only seen them two times for a total of less hours than I could count on my fingers. Time looms before me as I have stayed confined. Time also seems compressed as a deadly virus forces me to reassess the length of my life and the lives of everyone on this planet.. The months, the weeks, the days, the hours tick by. They almost lose their meaning as I wait and wait for the familiar to return. Time has lost its shape, its structure.

by Salvador Dali

My son, daughter-in-law and grandkids came for a visit on July 5th, 12:00-4:00. Four short hours. So many smiles, so much joy and then they were gone.

I worried that I hadn’t done enough. This really bothered me. For the first time, I wrote my grandkids a letter hoping to fill in the blanks of what I felt I hadn’t conveyed in our short visit.

July 6, 2020
My dear sweethearts,

After you left, I looked at all the things you played with and made. I’m amazed how wonderful each one of is and I’m so proud of you.

R. (my 9 year old granddaughter), my creative storyteller, you looked at my new calendar and thought about the passage of time.

Your wonderful imagination took over and you created a world where time could be controlled . You drew it on paper as you explain it to me.

It was the beginning of a great adventure. That is what writers do. They observe and wonder what would happen if things were different. Sometimes they see the things no one else sees or understands and they open the world to new possibilities. Never be ashamed of you imagination. The world needs the wonderful excitement that shines through your stories.

C. (6 year old grandson), I think you saw the wonder I saw in the golden mushrooms on the tree that had worked so hard to stay alive as it rested on its side. New life is now forming on its dead form as a sign of hope, telling us that nothing in nature really dies.

I loved the way you, R., and K. enjoyed seeing the styles of different artists as we looked through that art book.

C., you jumped into creativity with those oil pastels. It takes bravery and strengthen to be an artist. A person has to let go of doubt and be free. Connor, your picture of the cat shows you have great courage. I think you know that nothing has to be perfect when you are doing art, that there is no right or wrong.

R., I see that strength in your drawings, too.

K. ( my grandson, five), I am impressed that you are so observant. I’m glad we got to look at the Da Vinci pop up book. Like you, he looked at everything, birds, the human body, everything!!! And then he invented things and built things. He never gave up or got frustrated because he knew he would always figure things out.

You are a builder, K.

You are brave when you have a problem. You look and look and find a solution. Your construction crew will look up to you for the answers. You will invent and build just like Da Vinci. I can’t wait to see the wonderful things that you will create.

My sweethearts, I love when you come to visit and I visit you. I watch as each one of you use your talents. I am so, so proud of you.

Love forever and always,

Babci (Polish for grandmother)

I mailed the letter and I worried and wondered like all grandmothers do. Did I make the most of each moment? Did I hug my grandkids enough? Do they realize just how much I love them? Did I teach them enough? Did I listen and encourage them enough? The world and the future are so uncertain. I hope for the best, that the world will heal because I have so much more I want to give to my dear sweethearts.

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70 Days, 7000 Miles, Day 21

July 15, 2001

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I’m set up in The Cottonwood Campsite in Fort Smith, Montana where the US Post Office is in the laundromat.  You can fold your clothes and look at the wanted posters at the same time. And, when everything is finally all neat in your basket, you can buy some stamps and send a postcard.

Ugh! Men at the campsite!!  Get out of my face! Telling me I won’t be able to catch any fish unless I hire a guide! I was advised to pay  $200 a day  for one because I’m just wasting my time!

Am I bitter? Yes! Men fish for power, to unearth the secrets of the universe and conquer and overcome the wild beasts. I am very ticked off at these fishermen with their condescending, long winded B.S. The have been fishing all their lives while I have only known the sport sporadically. It frustrates me because I can sense the ways of river and the outdoors. I have a memory of it all from women ancestors long ago, an  instinct for it in my soul. Unfortunately, it is buried under years of domestic conditioning and  gender specific rules.

I want to fish even though I rarely catch anything.  I think it’s because there is a longing in me. A longing  to be be outdoors, to connect with nature, to understand the nature of nature, and to be a part of it rather than just an observer.

A guide is “someone with sufficient knowledge or understanding of a place (territory) or situation to assist another with the greatest efficiency in the least amount of time.” A fishing guide has years of hands-on experience. People who have more money than time pay for that knowledge. America is the nation of the quick fix. Unfortunately,  I have the time but not the money.  I guess I just need to practice more.

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Rhonda, the manager of the campgrounds, stopped by my site. I told her about all the fishing advice I received today and about my aversion to being lectured.  In my long 23 year marriage, I was belittled all the time and I still bristle when I’m put down.  I offer Rhonda wine in my new plastic camping wine glasses. We sit at my picnic table and she explained how important fishing is to these men and that they just want to help.  They take pride in their skill, she says, and in no way are trying to make me feel bad. She has come to know a lot of them and  likes them.  She is right,  I’m too quick to judge.  Maybe my divorce is still too fresh.

I wish Rhonda a good night. The coyotes howl in the Montana darkness.  I have gained so much this day, saved by a chance conversation over a glass of wine with a kind stranger. Ebbs and flow manifest themselves again.  A bad day turns into a darn good day with Rhonda’s  gift of compassionate insight. The balance is restored and the beauty enhanced by contrasts is once more renewed.