In her normal life, my grandmother, Mary Walton, would be working in her portrait-worthy garden in the morning, reading a new novel after lunch and sitting down to a table covered in homemade dinner with her family of 20.
But now is no longer normal.
Like most everyone else in the world, my grandma’s life has been thrown into a salad bowl and tossed around for a few weeks. Her once solid routine has turned into a waiting game of when the next disaster might strike.
Most anxiety-inducing and prevalent is the possibility of contracting COVID-19, especially for a 77-year-old woman.
“I feel like I’m living in a dystopian novel. I’m old, and it’s not like anything I’ve ever seen before,” she said. “Honestly, it just felt like the plague. We have the virus going on. Then we have an earthquake. We keep having aftershocks. The power went out. I got up a couple of different days and my furnace won’t turn on. I feel like I’m Pharoah and I don’t know who I’m supposed to ‘let go.’”
Besides the anxiety and uneasiness, the biggest issue disrupting my grandma’s life is the ruination of her weekly routine. Mary Walton is a lover of monthly book club, morning water aerobics and a lot of daily company–all of which have been put on hold.
Thus, she has created a new routine, designed for social distancing. A “quaroutine”, if you will.
Her days spent in the garden have not been limited. Weather permitting, I see my grandma outside nearly every day, doing what she loves most in the world.
Although her book club is on hiatus, my grandmother prepared for the release of the final book in the “Wolf Hall” trilogy, a historical series about Thomas Cromwell and King Henry VIII. She begged our local library to buy “The Mirror and the Light” and was the first to check it out.
However, it wasn’t exactly what she’d hoped for.
“I bring it home and I start reading it, and on the first page, Anne Boleyn gets her head cut off in very graphic, believable detail…and I just thought ‘I can’t read this now,’” she said.
After a rather traumatizing experience, my grandma recovered by deciding to read “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens. While the world is in chaos, good books bring the comfort that many people need. And for her, those do not include beheadings.
And although socializing is a big “no-no”, my grandma has had church on her front porch every Sunday, and plenty of family time via Zoom. For Easter, she plans on gathering our family together (each member will be six feet apart) and singing holiday-themed songs in her front yard for our entire block to hear.
My point is, my grandmother must be protected at all costs. She is the light and positivity that must remain alive and healthy right now. She successfully transformed her routine into one that is both safe, meaningful and 100% wholesome.
Before I finished our “interview,” I asked her what she would like the world to know about her thoughts on COVID-19.
“I guess we have to realize what we do impacts everybody around us. Be careful, but be kind at the same time. Don’t let social distancing turn into social destruction. We don’t want that,” she replied with a smile.
Story by: Amanda Walton
Photos Courtesy of Mary Walton