April 28, 2020
My heart broke. So day after day I just kept making masks…
I was on vacation in Miami, where there was no obvious concern about COVID-19, until I got to the airport for my return. The severity of what was about to happen started to hit home.
Reality struck when I got a phone call from my son Julian, a doctor doing his residency at a hospital in PA. Not only did he instruct me to self quarantine, but that my other son Paul, his wife and their two little ones, were off limits. They left my car at the airport, rather than picking me up; a sharp contrast to a normal greeting.
The next day came a short text...”Mom, crank open the sewing machine.” Julian knew I once did a lot of sewing, and they needed masks. They were only being given two masks a week, so he sent me specs for a surgical type mask, and a list of the best fabrics to use for the highest level of protection. My heart broke, so day after day I just kept making masks. And there it began.
It didn’t matter anymore that my industry in Real Estate was starting to ripple into extended and cancelled contracts. My concern was for my family and the health and well being of everyone; that was all that was important. When you have a son working on the front line, you understand more, the importance of slowing the onslaught of patients heading to the hospital. As a mother, both pride and fear live side by side in your heart.
Luckily I had plenty of fabric still on hand, after all, I was quarantined, and couldn’t just go shopping. Tea cloth was the best, and I remembered a neighbor had given me a stack of new tea cloth dishcloths when she got out of the novelty gift industry. They were a great start, because they were New England themed: lobsters, seagulls and seals decorated the fabric so I was sending him masks with a piece of home. Every day a new batch went overnight to help him, his wife who is a vet tech, and the many other resident doctors in his hospital. Styles and patterns got creative, from Star Wars to Batman, dinosaurs for my grandchildren, boats and flowers, whatever was on hand or sent to me.
I made over a couple hundred masks for him as well as my family and friends, but I couldn’t have done it without the help of friends and neighbors. They were sharing whatever materials they had on hand, or going out to purchase for me, so I could continue sewing.
In between we all learned a new way of sharing and being together in different ways. Zoom became a bright spot, missing my grandchildren and children, especially with Passover, we were able to share a Seder dinner remotely...but it was difficult to pass the salt!
My kids had planned a special 70th birthday celebration for me, a trip to New Orleans, which had to be cancelled. Instead what they did was more meaningful, a drive by with signs held out the window by my grandchildren and a dinner delivered. Examples of the little things being done daily by families and friends.
I find my relaxation at our beach, which has been a Godsend. We are fortunate to be able to get out every day on it for a walk. It’s a place where I could crank up the music and plan for days ahead, being together again, because we did our part today to stay isolated and healthy. And the added bonus, everyone seems to smile more and say “Hi” when passing, at a distance, on the beach. It’s like we have all become one big family, everyone going out of their way to be friendlier and help others. Everyone is trying to do something to help.
Those bright spots in difficult times, make us appreciate more every day what’s important.