My Mom was brought up in the American South, in what was then a small town in Florida called Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island.
Of course today's Fernandina bears little resemblance to how it was during my Mom's time (although many of the wonderful older homes and places have been beautifully restored and preserved) but there is one thing that never changed about Mom, irrespective of time or years.
Her great manners.
As kids, we were brought up to be mannerly and I've never thought there was anything at all wrong with that. We often resisted, as kids are wont to do, especially when it came to writing our thank you notes after receiving fabulous Christmas gifts lovingly posted from American 'aunts' and 'uncles' (who were actually my Mom's dear friends; we called them aunts and uncles because that's how Mom referred to them). Mom would sit us down with pen and paper (no email back then) and make us write down how much we loved our gifts, thank you so much.
Holding a high spot on Mom's Mannerly List was: 'Always speak to people.'
An adjunct to the 'always speak to people' was, '... even if you don't know them or like them much.' Fair enough. My Mom liked most everyone, and most everyone liked her and if there was someone she didn't really care for, you would never know as she would be just as gracious to that person as she would be to anyone else.
I am reminded almost daily of Mom's manners when we are out walking and pass by neighbours' houses and they're sitting out on the lawn: say hello, how are you, anything you need? There are lots of people I don't know, walking about at our beach, and there's always a wave (as we keep our social distance) or a smile, or a greeting. It's rare for folks not to say hi these days.
When Mom was alive, she'd take her daily walks with me, my sister, or Dad. With Parkinson's slowly debilitating her, we would wheel out her walking frame, get her organised, and off she'd go. The photo is of Mom and my sister heading off to the beach.
On her walks, she would stop to 'visit', as she termed it, with people she met. Chat over the fence, admire the flowers, pass the time of day. She would always speak because that's what you did. Some people in our street still remember Mom doing this, and they will tell me about it to this day.
Call it good manners, call it communication, call it being neighbourly - but call it important as we all do our best to manage this health crisis.
It doesn't take much. A smile, a wave, a howdy-do.