In an earlier post I wrote about a lady in our neighbourhood. We were worried about her because she lived alone, always had her curtains pulled and didn't come out much.
I did her see her out in her driveway once, smoking a cigarette, and asked if she'd like to join us on our walks, and on that day, she did.
As we walked, she told us that the lockdown has been hard for her. Her sons called her on the phone but of course they could not come by to visit. 'Sometimes I feel as if the walls are closing in,' she said.
When we parted company, I said that if she wanted to walk with us again, just to be out in her drive round 2pm and we'd come by. She said OK but we haven't seen her. The curtains are drawn again but the sliding door out to the deck is often open and we can hear the radio.
Yesterday I went for an earlier walk by myself and she was out in the front yard. When I came by, she smiled and we had a chat over the fence.
'I went down big time,' she said. 'I couldn't see how I was going to get out of this. The work I used to do, well, I've realised that I'm not going to be able to do it any more, at least for a long time, and by then I'll be broke.'
She said she came very close to the edge, what with the loneliness, not being able to get out and do her job (which was very social and one that she enjoyed), losing her community supports and family connections.
'I knew all I had to do was stand out on my driveway every day at 2 o'clock and you and your buddy would come by and I could walk and talk - but do you think I could do it?'
I knew what she meant. Sometimes it's all too hard, even making that one step out the front door can be impossible, too scary.
'So I had a long, hard think. I thought about my other skills, what else I can do, because after all of this isolation and virus stuff, we're going to have to be resourceful, think of new ways of doing things.'
She has decided to do gardening for elderly folk who love their lawns and plantings but can no longer tend to them as much as they'd like to. Through her community contacts she knows she can get started with a small number of clients. She has the tools and a car. I noticed that she had done some tidying in her own garden, potted a few cuttings in colourful containers and she's working on a mosaic set into the garden path.
I could see her energy and enthusiasm. She'd cottoned onto something that she could do, a practical idea for work when we are set free. I suspect many of us will need to be thinking this way as we grapple with a 'new scene', recognising those skills and strengths we have but haven't used yet, unleashing our imaginations to think around, over and above the usual.
'It's quite exciting,' she said. 'All I could see was dark negatives, but then when I let up on myself a bit and did some thinking, I felt brighter. I can do this. I know I can.'
So .. do we change, or stay the same?
Will 'same' be enough?
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