"Home lies in the things you carry with you everywhere and not in the things that tie you down."
-- Pico Iyer

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Faces of Covid

     We held several Zoom meetings with family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday. We talked about children and grandchildren and other usual things, but of course the topic of Covid came up. One thing that struck me was how the disease has affected different people in different ways -- and how our attitudes vary depending on our situation. I see three or four different faces of Covid.

     Those of us who are retired talked mostly about how we are isolating, and not traveling, and not able to see our grandchildren in person. We fear the disease and avoid other people. We are bored and sometimes lonely, and sometimes frustrated by the restrictions on our lives. Most of us know someone who has been in the hospital with the disease. We know one or two who have died -- usually someone's elderly relative in a nursing home.

     What we don't worry about is our finances. We have no job to lose. Our salaries just show up in our bank accounts -- automatically from Social Security or a pension or an IRA withdrawal.

     Then there's our children. Most of them are still working. A couple work exclusively from home -- and for at least one of them it's been a blessing. He has a one-year-old at home that he now gets to see -- and a long commute to work that he doesn't have to make.

     Others have had to figure out how to work from home, when they can, but still at times go into a workplace with other people. My daughter has been tested for Covid four separate times, because someone in her building tested positive. So far she's been negative. But Covid is running rampant where she works. She's a healthy young adult, but still a little nervous about the whole thing.

     We have a couple of grandchildren who are going to school. A third-grader is taking part in the hybrid approach. He spends a lot of time doing lessons on Zoom. He declined to attend our family Zoom meeting. He's had enough.

     One grandchild is going to preschool five days a week -- so far, so good. It turns out for some reason schools are not the super-spreaders that we might expect. But another one of our grandchildren is being homeschooled this year -- because her mother isn't taking any chances. Different people, different solutions.

     We have one child, in his mid-30s, who has yet another attitude. He is angry. He was 15 years into his career and doing well ... until the spring of 2020. He's in the entertainment business. His company has lost virtually all of its revenue. It kept him on full salary until July, then on half salary until just last week. But now the company is shutting down. He's getting paid and keeping his benefits until the end of the year. Then he's on his own. 

     As you might expect, he takes a different view of the pandemic. He's young and healthy. He's not afraid of Covid. He's afraid of running out of money and losing his medical insurance. His career has been torpedoed -- and he has no idea what the future holds for him. Will a vaccine allow people to congregate again and save the theaters, the movies, the music venues, the restaurants and travel industry? Maybe. But who knows how this will change people's habits and expectations? Who knows what the world will look like after this is all over -- assuming it's ever all over?

     Covid is unpredictable. Some people get it and don't even know they have it. Others feel the dreaded cough, the headache, and a few days later they're in the ICU. The fear of the disease is only a minor inconvenience for some. For others it kills their careers, turns their world upside down.

     No doubt, Covid has affected us all -- all in different ways. What we share is hope. The hope of better treatments. The hope of an effective vaccine. And the hope that by this time next year it will be but a distant memory.


ApacheDug said...

Tom, sure am sorry about your son. I appreciated what you wrote here about the different faces, just a day or two before Thanksgiving one of my neighbors (in my apt building) was remarking how this pandemic is "out there", is it affecting any of us? We all said no. The very next day, we learned one of the residents here who we all liked is being forced to move back in with her parents after Christmas--her food truck business for downtown has gone kaput. Well, I do feel very fortunate it hasn't affected my retirement finances--or the livelihoods or health of my younger sisters & their spouses. Again, very sorry about your son.. please keep us posted on how he's doing.

Barb said...

My son is in the place of your thirty year old son. Not sure what your son does, but mine is a restaurant manager and his career and finances are comeyy torpedoed, while only 3 percent of cases come from dining. He is furious snd has gone past anger to depression or us getting there. He is also angry at all those traveling and gathering in groups who are contributing to the current mess.

Celia said...

Praying for your son. Hope he can restart in some fashion. We spent two years helping a son whose career disappeared when the newspapers began to fail years back. He was in his 30's as well. It's frightening. Sending good thoughts his way. He's also the only one of us who got Covid but recovered after 3 scary weeks where he couldn't get out of bed and is doing well now.

I myself have adjusted to being alone. I am lucky in that my kids and grandkids are only 10 minutes away. We do some on the patio and in the driveway visits, masked and short ones as the weather has chilled. I have three sisters, all retired but one who is still teaching via zoom. We four have a daily 4-way text stream as well as some phone conversations. I learned to make videos on my phone so now no one escapes me ha ha ha. A career as a videographer is NOT likely.

DJan said...

I'm like you, Tom: retired and getting my monthly "salary" every month. I find myself feeling a little stir-crazy down and then, but it's nothing I can't handle. I feel for those who are mid-career and seeing it disappear. :-(

Rian said...

We (like you) are retired and have our Social Security coming in... so our main 'inconvenience' is staying home and not seeing family and friends (except via Zoom or Skype). It is sad, but worth the price if it means our family and friends (and us) stay well.
But we too have 2 sons whose jobs are in jeopardy. However, both of their wives are nurses and they are overwhelmed with work. So hopefully, they will be Ok. Our daughter is a Closer and is swamped with work. She works both at home and at the office and sees the public daily (although masked). We do worry about her. Her daughter is away at college... and that too is concerning. But as I've said before, it is what it is. We do what we can and put the rest into the hands of a higher power.
I will pray for your family and your son. As you said, this pandemic has hit some harder than others. But I have faith that we will get through this.

Arkansas Patti said...

I almost have a bit of survivor guilt in that outside of restricted movements, I haven't personally been affected by the disease. Even my family member only had a mild version of if. I don't have to worry about a pay check, job, home or food. I so feel for those who are drastically affected.
Hope your son will be able to get his career back on track again and old normal will slowly come back.

DUTA said...

Hopefully , vaccination will do the job on covid.
However,covid-19 is only the prologue to a greater issue - the climate.
It hasn't forgotten us; it still intends to swalow islands and beach towns. May God help us!

Sue said...

Dear Tom, your son's career needs are way more important than a bunch of mask-wearing hypochondriacs. Harsh, but true. Us old people have had our shot at life, if we die of covid, oh well. Life is risky, and young folks ought to have a chance at it.

Kay said...

I heard one opinion that the vaccine should be given to healthcare workers and then to younger people rather than seniors because seniors are more careful and stay at home. Younger people tend to congregate and become super spreaders. You're right though, COVID definitely affects each age, income, social group differently.

Olga said...

I believe there is no good time to succumb to Covid 19. I am old but relatively healthy. I plan to continue wearing my mask. I am not afraid of death for myself. When it's my time, it's my time, oh well. But I think the health care workers don't need any unnecessary exposure from me should I end up in an ICU. I don't think my family needs to be concerned about a funeral in the time of a pandemic. We all need to care for self and others.

Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged said...

So sorry about your son. As another commenter mentioned, many jobs and industries - even before Covid - have started to fail due to our changing world. I can't imagine how mad, frustrated, and scared he must feel. Even after most (and hopefully most will) are vaccinated, it's not like a light switch will turn on and everything will go back to normal.

Jeanette Lewis said...

You've written so thoughtfully about some of the ways this pandemic has taken its toll. Those of us who are retired and blessed with stable incomes may not suffer except for isolation and inconvenience. Nonetheless, we can't help but worry about the health and economic effects we see everywhere. As a former mental health professional, I am concerned about the long-term ramifications -- for young and old alike.

Miss Merry said...

We feel blessed we are retired; we don't have to go out to work and we receive our "paycheck". But just like you, so many situations with our children. Two work in healthcare, terrified what they might bring home to their families, one law enforcement officer who contracted Covid (light case mercifully. Our two oldest sons lost their jobs in the railroad industry. Both had 15 years toward a pension that was not vested until 20 years, and have to start a new career since the facility was closed and there are no similar jobs anywhere. It has been devastating. Their insurance has 2 months to go.
We have several teachers who have had to quarantine due to exposure to cases of other teachers, mostly due to those teachers older children who participate in sports. And we have grandchildren attending school in person full-time, full-time virtually and hybrid with split classes for fewer children in the classroom at one time. I really think that a plan to safely reopen schools could have been made at the federal level starting last March. We have students with no access to the internet or devices, school districts that can provide those options, childcare concerns for parents who are working and schools that are closed - and the teachers who are trying to safely teach in person while spending nights and weekends videotaping for those not in class. This whole generation is getting a piecemeal education and it just seems like we could have done better.
Our local school is advertising for "aides" to come into classrooms as glorified babysitters, high school diploma required, because we do not have enough teachers due to covid or quarantine to staff our schools. They had to close 3 days last week due to lack of staff.

DavidH said...

My wife and I hope to get the vaccine soon. It is safe and highly effective. Until then we are scared. We only make necessary trips. Hawaii has one of the lowest infections rates in the country. We also have a strict mask policy. Very few complain as they realize that we are safe. The end of the crisis is near!

Anonymous said...

I hope your angry son finds a way to usefully channel his very well-deserved anger.

I'm part of your "regular paycheck" crowd.

Wisewebwoman said...

So far so good with my children and grandchildren. A lot to be grateful for though our cases are increasing here when we had such a lull and people became complacent though I, or my family, never did.

I am so sorry to read about your on, very stressful for him. I don't are for the predictions for Christmas and the cases foretold. Much of the population is not learning, unfortunately.


Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com said...

Hi Tom!

Thanks for sharing your family's personal experiences with all of us. I suppose that is why there is so much push back against the closures and wearing masks. None of us, I repeat, NONE of us like to see our way of life dissolving or even just being disrupted. I live in a tourist area and it is amazing to me to see the hoards of people roaming around and cramming into local restaurants without a seeming care in the world. Their excuse is that the "restaurants" need our business but from the outside it sure looks like just spoiled people doing whatever they want because they want it. Meanwhile, I too sympathize with the younger people who have had their lives so turned upside down.

But again, I think back when our country faced big calamities like WWII or even the Vietnam War when you could be drafted at 18 and sent to another country to potentially die. That would REALLY mess up your career plans!

So yes, it is a hardship to so many people but I can't help but believe we all need to put on our big-girl pants and do what it takes to stop the virus. Then perhaps we need to recognize that the world as we knew it has changed forever and readjust to what the future holds (climate change, political unrest, economic uncertainty). Those of us who work together will find a way through. Those who stay flexible and inventive will be okay. Those that cling to the past, maybe not.

Okay, just my 2 cents! ~Kathy

gigi-hawaii said...

I am glad that some of your children and grandkids are doing well. Sorry to hear about your son losing his job. I guess he will have to find some other line of work. When one door closes, another one opens. Hopefully, that will happen.

Anonymous said...

My late husband was drafted when he was 19, just starting out in the work-world.

Karen D. Austin said...

I'm sorry about your son. Our daughter is a music major (trumpet and piano performance, but she also does sound editing). It's been hard on her, and she keeps getting exposed and tested (so far, negative results). I teach college, and my 36 students across three sections are having a lot of trouble managing anxiety and depression from all the complexities and roadblocks. I'm offering them a lot of flexibility on deadlines while still maintaining standards for the work submitted. I'm very blessed to have a job I can do online. All my best to those who have more difficult situations to manage.

Anonymous said...

A resounding YAY to the crowds of maskless people pushing back against this psy-ops called covid, and breathing some life back into our fainting economy. People who must go out and actually work for a check, really appreciate your business. Just my two cents ;)

David @iretiredyoung said...

I'm sorry to hear about your son. I have two kids, one who is working, and so far that seems to be holding up OK, and another who is nearing the end of university and who will surely find it harder to get a job at the end of it. For myself, I'm one of those retired people that you describe who has no job to lose and who is financially OK, and I'm grateful for that, but I do worry for my kids.

Your post is a good reminder that different people see different things in different ways. We tend to view the world from our own perspective, and I think it would be a better place if more often we remembered that there are other ways of looking at things too.

Rebecca Olkowski said...

My daughter has a friend who was working as a CPA at a movie studio. She had just bought a million-dollar house when she got laid off and was off for months. She just found another job in another industry, thankfully because her emergency fund was about to run out. The movie business has started back again but slowly. Hopefully, your son will find another job too.

Linda Myers said...

We have one son, a nurse who had covid in March. Another son, a nurse working in a small ER. A daughter, director of pharmacy at a hospital now planning for the vaccine distribution. Five others working, but not from home. We are the compliant elders, though not living in fear. It is wonderful to walk and ride my bicycle - and get a massage once a week. I am so grateful for financial okayness. I suspect we'll be asked to help somehow as this virus moves through the world. We're willing.

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Anonymous said...

Great topic, Tom.
Like others commenting, my income is stable. I am so grateful for that, as I remember the anxiety of losing a job when I was young. I had no economic cushion and a child to support. So many young people in that same situation now. If ever there was a time for charitable giving, this is it.

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