Category: Life lessons

Making masks more comfortable

Let’s stipulate that it’s important and respectful to continue wearing masks as long as the coronavirus is out there. I wear a mask because I should, not to align with a political position. Okay, that’s established. Now I can complain about masks. It’s harder to breathe wearing a mask. It’s harder to hear, and harder... Read more »

Chatting with a locked-down parent

Many of us likely make lists before important conversations. As a journalist, I would jot down points before interviewing someone to make sure everything important would be covered. But a list to talk to your mother? My mother has been in coronavirus lockdown in an assisted living residence for 11 weeks. No visitors, no leaving... Read more »

Heartbreak on top of isolation: losing a pet during coronavirus

Heartbreak on top of isolation: losing a pet during coronavirus
“So glad to have Lizzy now,” I wrote in my journal in early April as the second week of Illinois’s stay-at-home order was ending. Human company and touch were off limits for the indefinite future, but I had my sweet kitty. Now Lizzy is gone, and I’m writing through tears. In my last post I... Read more »

How long can I live like this? I'm not talking about the pandemic.

This is really looking for a silver lining: If there was ever a good time for isolation, it’s now for me because it coincides with a worsening of my cat’s inflammatory bowel disease. For both health and aesthetic reasons, it’s best to not have visitors. Lizzy has chronic diarrhea. She also doesn’t always use the... Read more »

This and that as we soldier on

I want to believe that the people who are clamoring for a reopening are not all antigovernment right-wingers, despite the protest signs. Some must be among the one in six American workers who have filed for unemployment during the pandemic. The majority of people who have lost their jobs and still told KFF pollsters that... Read more »

When you need upbeat fiction

When my book group chose its next novel, someone suggested Albert Camus’s The Plague for its current relevance. The rest of us wanted something less depressing in the present circumstances, so we’re reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. Wanting something less depressing is nothing new for me. Back in the 1990s, I... Read more »

Mom is tougher than we thought

We underestimated Mom. Maybe I shouldn’t speak for my siblings, but I don’t think any of the four of us expected her to be so resilient in the face of the one-two punch of being widowed and locked down by the coronavirus. Mom, 92, lost her husband of nearly 72 years just before Christmas. They... Read more »

The return of the phone call

The coronavirus isn’t deadly in every way. It’s brought back to life two old-fashioned means of communication: phone calling and letter writing. It’s been nearly 13 years since Nielsen announced the phone call’s adieu in the United States. In autumn 2007 the number of texts sent on cellphones topped the number of phone calls. Today... Read more »

Texts and email from the first few days of isolation

Hi, Paula. You’re right: almost everything that was on my calendar has been canceled. My mom’s residence won’t allow us in except in an emergency. I don’t argue with that, but it’s hard on a 92-year-old woman who lost her husband less than three months ago to not be able to see her children. Teletherapy... Read more »

Trying to make being homebound fun

One of the topics on my list for future blog posts is how retirees can ward off isolation by getting out for one activity a day. It requires planning. I check through Chicago Greeter tour requests and schedules of museum free days, movies, and other happenings to fill in the next month’s calendar. My calendar... Read more »