Sunday, I ventured out with Grandpa to one of our favorite restaurants here in Brentwood. We both got all dressed up, which in our case meant something other than sweatpants and an old tee shirt, got into the car and drove the five blocks to Chianti's for dinner. Freedom, if only for a few hours!
We invited the family and since it was the first time that we were together in many months, I was pretty sure it was them behind those masks! The air quality had increased to a safer level and stocked up with a boat load of hand sanitizer, Grandpa and I enjoyed every minute and every bite of the first meal not cooked by me since forever!
The anticipation I felt all week was a mixture of a little anxiety and a whole lot of joy. Other than four or five essential and brief errands in the last six and a half months, this outing was as important to me as any major family celebration.
Human contact is so natural for us and it took every molecule of strength in my body to hold back the hugs and kisses and replace them with hidden smiles and “tushy” bumps. The sight of three of my grandkids was overwhelming as I held back tears of joy to avoid ruining my eye makeup. After all, it was also a treat to actually do my doo and put on some mascara.
As seniors, we truly cherish any and all interaction with family and friends. I know everyone does but we are creatures of nurturing who look forward to these precious visits. The Covid pandemic has put the kibosh on so many things we have taken for granted in the past.
Recently one of my readers sent an email about the loneliness and lack of normalcy we are all feeling these days. His thoughts were spot on especially his input on social media that has become more antisocial than the former. He pointed out the importance of mental health and the toll on seniors during these isolated times. He wrote “The combination of shelter in place, shutting things down, the recession, racial strife, and now this nasty campaign both nationally and locally have all combined to do a real number on us all” and I could not agree more. He went on to share that sitting at home and trying to stifle boredom leads to the temptation of venturing into too much time on social media and getting caught up in the drama. Again, I agree and suggest that we all try to remember that old saying about not talking money, politics or religion. Guilty myself on more than one occasion, I know that even as old school as this may sound, I believe in this idea, especially now. As seniors, it's important to protect our mental health both for our own sake and for the people around us. He went on to say, that “nobody likes a grumpy old person and it's certainly no way to live, but social media gives all kinds of reasons to be unhappy”. Again, he hit the nail on the head. I assume and hope that it will calm down when we all can get out safely and the elections are behind us.
I enjoy Facebook and look forward to pictures of family and friends. Congratulating people when new babies are born, puppies and kittens are adopted or birthdays are celebrated virtually keeps us in touch. I try to scroll quickly passed a lot of the negativity but admittedly get caught up in it. Each day I send love and a video of humor to my Facebook friends hoping to bring a little laughter and respite from the tiresome news of the day. My new friend Ed, summed it up by saying that he has been forced to delete people that post too much controversial stuff which helps him avoid the stress. I think that makes him sad, I know it does me. He went on to explain that he also avoids other sites that used to be fun and enjoyable but harbors too much political hatred from both sides of this angry set of aisles we find ourselves in now. As Ed suggests, don’t let yourself get pulled into exchanges that are fruitless. We all have our beliefs and political views and as much as we may not agree, civility in writing, especially on social media, is so important. The spoken and written word are not easily forgotten if hurtful and are never able to be taken back.
For now, Grandpa and I cherish the time we had on Sunday and will keep Zooming and looking for posts that make us smile. I truly believe that sooner rather than later we will be holding those grandkids and loving on them in person. Stay safe and well. Thank you, Ed for your wonderful email.
Marla Luckhardt is a Brentwood resident who works with several local senior care and advocacy groups. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.