Yet again, my family is separate at the holidays. Perhaps you’ve had a similar situation in which your family has also been separated because of this horrible pandemic. This year, I wrote the following to my family … my son and daughter, their partners, their children, and their children’s children. 

Dear Family,

I am so sorry the pandemic has interrupted our plans for the holiday. Your decision not to travel, was a correct one, although I am very disappointed. Furthermore, I have great sadness that my four young great-grandchildren will know even less about who I am, and was. Therefore, I will describe what I look like now, and what their “Gigi” was like years ago.

I have thin grey short hair that once was thick, long, black hair. I have pink slits for eyes which were once wide and hazel-colored. I have some dark spots on my checks that were once part of a peaches-and-cream complexion. I wear bifocal glasses to see anything, when once my young eyes saw everything well. I have hearing aids, when once I perhaps heard more than I should have! I use a walking cart for my every step, when once taking long strolls was a passion of mine. Now, at age 97, I am barely 5 feet tall, when I was 5-2 for about 80 years of my life. I am chubby, weighing almost 140 pounds when most of my adult life I was 20 pounds less. I also have a twisted and painful right leg that causes me to stand and walk in a bent over position rather than with the straight posture I once had. 

Although these physical changes over the years are to be expected, I try to maintain an optimistic, accepting view of life. My positive attitude is challenged by today’s social and political discord. I see our democracy being destroyed by lies, greed, hate, racism, and violence, fostered by ex-president Donald Trump. His evil influence threatens our future. Now I look to you, my dear ones, under the wise tutelage of your parents, to be strong proponents of our democracy and a kind and peaceful future. 

When you think of your “Gigi,” just know I am and was a loving great-grandma who appreciates all life and nature. I desire preserving our freedoms, the care of our beautiful land, and have a sincere love of people — all people. 

My love and concern for all of my family is now and forever,


Harriet Hausman, 97 years young, is a longtime resident of River Forest and a proud member of the ACLU.

Join the discussion on social media!