Editor’s note: This piece was submitted last week, too late to appear in the April 23 issue.
I sleep with books. Some are kids’ books. Oh, I suppose I could get over the habit. Lately, they are a comfort. I work hard during the day, it being April. It’s that way, on a farm. I have slept with newspapers, too, waking up in the rumple of quilt and newsprint amid my several pillows and books.
Easter evening, my husband Marsh handed me the April 9, 2020 Athens NEWS. I just read it right then and there on our old $20 brown couch in the living room of our simple, hand-built house here on the Brudno farm.
And the more I thought about that A-News, the firmer and firmer grew the desire to echo Geoff Greenfield.
He wrote the heartfelt “Reader’s Forum” piece about his grandpa who served in World War II. Geoff’s questions: Will we rise to the challenge, individually and collectively, presented by the COVID-19 Pandemic? Will we eventually be viewed as heroes who made a difference? Will our grandchildren recognize us as warriors who saved lives, healed others, participated in being kind and righteous instead of selfish and passive during what we faced in 2020, and beyond? This is our turn. Will WE be a new “greatest generation” as Tom Brokaw called those who lived through WWII?
Yes, Geoff, neighbor, it IS our turn to be great! Your Reader’s Forum piece appeared in The A-News on April 2. Now it’s April 21 (when this was submitted). In these two and a half weeks, thousands more have died. Testing for the virus is still very needed. Schools in Ohio are finishing up the school year minus brick-and-mortar attendance. We are physically distancing, flattening the curve, protecting each other, forgoing gatherings, saying goodbyes.
Frontline workers fight exhaustion and PTSD. The nature of this virus is a whole lot like commando or guerrilla warfare. Like Geoff’s grandfather and his peers, who faced the unimaginable during WWII, we are facing a foe that is a common enemy to all. Some people today are calling the virus pandemic overblown news. Unreal. What is all this fuss, they ask in their protests. They’re fuming at inconveniences being endured. They don’t like wearing face masks. They don’t see why we can’t just return to normal.They want their jobs back, understandably. They want to sit in a bar.They want to buy stuff. They want their creature comforts. They’re bored. They miss their plump paychecks. They miss the convenience of going into public places whenever they want, unrestricted.
In short, the griping you hear has little to do with the deadly nature of the virus.
It is time for a re-boot. A reality check.
One of the things I love about living on a farm is the mornings. One doesn’t always get a guaranteed good night’s rest. Mornings represent new opportunity. To look for beauty. To garden. To feed chickens. To watch wildlife. To work.
I prefer to focus on joy. Even – especially – if what lies ahead is hard. Hard is good. After some quiet time, we get a few chores done, more or less, and make sure the wood stove is stoked, if need be. I appreciate looking at the morning sky. I give thanks and send out pleas. I send out requests. I face the unknown of the coming day, and I feel to include all of us, the whole world over. You hear a lot, lately, “we’re all in this together.” I believe that. I live that. Over here, after a full day’s work, Marsh and I watch an old “Red Green” episode some nights on YouTube, just for laughs. Red’s parting words: “Remember, we’re all in this together!”
Judy Collins sings “From a Distance.”
From a distance, we’re all instruments, marching in a common band, playing songs of hope, playing songs of peace, they’re the songs of every man… From a distance, you look like my friend, even though we are at war…
I sorely miss the children. Volunteering at Amesville Elementary is a joy – all that studying with friends in the hallway. We figure out tough words in books and strange symbols on maps. We magnify the moments! We teach stuffed animals how to read. We pack in a lot of love in twos and threes. We all miss each other.
Volunteering at school makes living and care-giving with Parkinson’s disease in our home way easier.
Sometimes jobs get interrupted, and we can practice Plan B in life. It’s OK. The way will open up. We become a bit more patient and kind at home, more diligent and concerned at home. That’s a needful, wise thing.
We keep in touch with grandchildren, local students, nieces and nephews… fun, good old-fashioned snail mail. Stamps, drawings, envelopes. Small sacrifice, a costly package of stamps, bought from village postmaster Wendy who now works behind a newly-installed glass shield at the customer counter. A letter can brighten someone’s day for days. I get to use my crayons and sparkly gel pens.
So tonight, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, I will go to bed with books. I am reading a kids’ book about brave Danes who protected Jews during WWll. My own Ole Boy here is a Jew.
Tomorrow is Earth Day. Friday, Arbor Day. Small and simple things.
Yes, Geoff. It’s our turn.
Trisha Brudno is a farmer and grandmother who lives in Ames Township.