The coronavirus pandemic and the inadequacies of America’s health care reached a critical mass and triggered a runaway chain reaction devastating our economy. By mid-April, 22 million American workers lost their livelihood, and there is a likelihood that more jobs will be lost. Hundreds of thousands of businesses were shut down with no foreseeable reopening. America became locked down in social-distancing and in-home sheltering.
At 86, my immune system is impacted by old age. I have elevated blood pressure and a heart pacemaker implant, and thus I am one of the highly vulnerable. On March 10, I started a self-imposed home confinement.
In my sheltered solitude, the staggering numbers of the nationwide body count of casualties erodes my morale and mingles with a multitude of other seemingly unrelated factors.
Boredom and loneliness have not plagued me. I grew up as an only child and learned self-sufficiency in my pastimes. Boredom is a product of a lazy mind. My mind is impacted by old-age-related memory lapses, but I have not allowed it to become lazy.
Aloneness is not loneliness for me. Aloneness has given me a means to escape from an overload of human contact. I have learned to utilize aloneness to regenerate, to unclutter my mind.
The constraint of my confinement generates tension for me, and I begin to understand the tension I witnessed in my parents in 1941 during the Russian occupation of Lithuania. Their unspoken tension was induced by the ubiquitous threat of deportation to Siberian gulags by the Soviets. For several months we lived with the probability that at dawn a truck of Russian soldiers would arrive to transport us to the railroad to be shipped to the gulag.
My current tension is caused by my struggle to survive against the odds in the late season of my life. The overload of morbid statistics in the news of the humanitarian crisis has stressed my morale. The death toll is heartbreaking. But I’m not depressed and have no significant downswings of my moods. A half-hour of Chopin nocturnes brings welcome relief from tension and downward mood swings. It’s like a lullaby at the end of a stressful day.
My morose moping is counteracted by a great outpouring of caring and love from my neighbors. They have offered to shop for me, to replenish my supplies. They established a routine check of my wellness, and I had a serving of their dinner delivered to my doorstep. I feel I have been transformed from being an aging oddity on the block to the status of a community treasure.
When I express my appreciation and gratitude, they tell me they’re glad to extend themselves. They say, “It takes a village …”
I have told several friends who do not reside in my community about my caring neighbors. They say I’m fortunate to live on a unique block. I say, “Thank you, angels of the 700 block of Wenonah.”