May 7, 2020

As I sit here staring at a blank screen on Day 23 (which seems like Day 365) of our city-wide quarantine, I am at a loss for words.

Rylan and Amelia during a recent doorstep drop-off.

There aren’t a lot of fun, outrageous things that our grandchildren have said or done, at least none that I know of. You see, like most grandmothers, I haven’t seen my grandchildren since this wretched virus landed in our city. 

Yes, we text, email, and occasionally FaceTime. I’ve seen them only twice – at a 12-foot distance – as they stood at their front door when Papa and I left goodies on their doorstep. I suppose I’ve been spoiled having Rylan and Amelia live nearby these past 13 years. Suddenly, face-to-face visits are a thing of the past. 

I’ve tried to make sense of this pandemic and find it impossible to do

The family visiting at a distance.

so. History has recorded such an event every 100 years or so, so I’m happy to report that – fingers crossed – there won’t be another for the next 100 years. 

In January, Papa and I had dinner with our godson and his wife who live in Beijing. We were transfixed as they told us what havoc this virus had wreaked in Wuhan, a city of 11 million residents. We’d never heard of a lock-down in modern history and couldn’t imagine how this could happen. And now, only months later, our beloved New Orleans is the new Wuhan. 

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So, what are the lessons I hope my grandchildren and adult children can learn from this experience? Other than “please don’t hoard the toilet paper,” here are some thoughts: 

  1. Family is everything. Duh. Our family lives in three different parts of New Orleans – the Garden District, Uptown, and the French Quarter – yet we know we have one another’s backs, even if we must stand at least 6-feet away from one another.  
  2. The impossible is often possible. Who knew that Rylan and Amelia – and every other kid – would be home-schooled in their makeshift home classrooms by dedicated teachers and parents who managed to pull together guides, curricula, and lectures and then slapped them on cyberspace. Sheer genius, if you ask me. 
  3. Your friends are still your friends. So, you don’t get to hang out with your friends at school, the soccer fields, or sleep-overs…yet, they are still your buddies. And instead, you can have a virtual birthday party or a video soccer game to stay connected, sort of. It just takes work, creativity, and heart. 
  4. This too shall pass. Hell’s bells, kids, we’ve been through 9-11, Katrina, a couple of wars, some civil unrest, and some Saints disasters. We’re still here and stronger than ever! 
  5. In times of chaos, heroes emerge. How can we ever thank our medical community, grocery store employees, mail carriers, and delivery men? What about our restaurants that fed us and our first responders? And please, remember our public safety officers and media who kept us informed as these long days droned on and on. 
  6. Gratitude goes a long way. If you’ve come through this experience with parents who still have jobs, a roof over your head, and you are still speaking to your parents and siblings, you’ve done well. Be grateful and quit your belly achin’. 
  7. Winnie the Pooh nailed it. "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."
  8. Grandparents can work wonders. Got a craving for Brocato's Italian Ice, Theo's Pizza, o need some school supplies? That crazy white-haired lady, standing at your front door, dressed in a Hazmat suit, mask, and gloves, is your biggest cheerleader. Call her. You mean the world to her.

Laura Claverie, also known as Nola Family's Hip Grannie, is a journalist who has written for local, regional, and national media. 

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