By Circe Olson Woessner
It is day three of teleworking from home, and day bazillion in the pre-or apocalyptic reality we find ourselves in. “Social distancing” is a new word that everyone knows and practices – – unless you’ve taken a devil-may-care attitude about this whole “hoax disease.” As we stay at home, we shake our heads at the images of young people frolicking on the beaches or having parties. Nero plays the violin as Rome burns. Look at Italy! Look at Italy!
A lot of people are scared and acting out – – I have heard of fights right here in our local supermarket—Really? Come on, for Pete’s sake! People are hording supplies and stocking up on ammo in “case of wide-spread panic.”
False information and far-fetched conspiracy theory opinions are being shared on social media as the gospel truth. People are sending along chain messages, and offering advice on really weird ways to prevent getting sick. Forwarded emails from unknown “experts” are adding to the chaos. Memes and weird jokes are byproducts of how some people react to stress—and some of them are really, really funny – – unless you have someone who is elderly in your family, or who is sick, or someone who has, God forbid, recently died from COVID-19.
What messages are we sending to our children, who look for us to be calm in a time of crisis? What are we telling the elderly or immune compromised? Are we modeling desired behavior?
If someone coughs, or sneezes, we glare at them – – why are you doing that– are you sick? At the supermarket, we scan other people, looking for signs of disease on them. Why are you coming up my aisle? Wait till I’m done here! Shoppers are furtive, dashing through the aisles grabbing things as if it’s the end of the world.
Maybe it is.
Life as we know it has changed over the past few weeks. Our dog has taken to sleeping with us, something forbidden up until a few weeks ago when he decided he preferred our bed to his. We laughed nervously saying, “well if something happens to us, at least he can eat us from the comfort of the bed.” Not very funny, but humor has taken an extremely dark turn these days…
Our society is self-isolated (another new word that everyone knows) and our workdays are very different than they were even a week ago. My extended family is keeping running shopping lists, knowing that it will be very hard to find the items we want, and while we will not succumb to hoarding, we understand that food shopping has become a scavenger hunt.
I feel I’m living in one of those science fiction movies or a really bad dream I can’t wake up from. This is no way to live. However; think of the alternative! Several months ago, this was a rhetorical question, but now, the alternative is hitting closer to home. And it’s not so hypothetical.
… Just stop….breathe…Live in this particular moment. Take stock in your blessings right now.
In New Mexico the sun is shining, the trees are beginning to bud, and if you can slow your racing heartbeat, you can hear the birds sing. if you’re like me, and live near I-40, you can hear the hum of the interstate, of trucks bringing needed supplies to communities all across this country. The National Guard is setting up hospital tents; Airmen are stocking shelves at the Kirtland Air Force Base Commissary. Babies are being born; people are getting married. Life is still going on.
Over and over, I am drawn to the quote attributed to Mr. Rogers after 911. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
And it’s very true. The military is calling up retired healthcare workers to join the fight against Covid-19. Federal employees are teleworking, ensuring that the nation doesn’t grind to a halt. Emergency responders and military are rotating personnel to ensure there are enough healthy team members to respond to a national emergency or health crisis.
Stores are trying to accommodate the massive amount of shoppers panic buying, and setting up designated shopping times for people who are vulnerable. Utility companies are suspending disconnections and overdue accounts. Workers are pulling longer shifts to accommodate the requirements needed to get us through this crisis.
Impromptu support groups are starting on Facebook. Younger people are offering to run errands for older people. People are passing along local resources and information on store inventories and discounted places.
Neighbors are checking in on their neighbors; recently unemployed people are offering childcare services so that frontline staff who have to work, can get to their jobs at hospitals, supermarkets, emergency response centers, etc.
Even while under lockdown, the human spirit is strong. Individuals – – common, everyday people – – are lifting the spirits of their fellow human being by leading them exercise sessions as they watch from balconies. A military spouse in Germany serenaded her fellow base dwellers with her own funny versions of Andrew Lloyd Webber hits. A friend is reading poetry selections on Skype. Symphonies and theater companies are performing concerts or plays and streaming them free to the public. Companies are offering free educational products to parents who suddenly find themselves homeschooling their kids. (I tried to homeschool my son when he was nine and it didn’t end well for either of us– so hats off to every homeschool parent out there now trying to figure it out!) I’ve joined an online writer’s group with complete strangers from all over the world, and we are enjoying the creative company.
Last night, I watched a short YouTube video called “Isolated St. Patrick’s Day Parade” where people around the world, through the miracle of technology, were able to play one song from their homes—in Spain , the US, Ireland, the UK and Australia– in harmony and in sync. It was lovely and appropriately wonderful for a very unusual St. Patrick’s Day.
When this is all said and done, I’m hoping we have learned lessons as a society and can make our world safer, friendlier and better.
I never signed up to be dealing with COVID-19, but since I must, I have choices: I can panic and be mean and small, or I can take this lemon that I was given and make a big, beautiful meringue pie.
I choose the pie.
Born on New London Submarine Base, Groton, CT, Terrill Ann and her four siblings grew up as proud Navy Brats. Her family moved frequently so Terrill learned to adapt, make friends and get involved in her new communities. Because of her love of architecture, landscape and art, she was drawn to local artists who created reflections of their environments. She became an avid collector of artwork and crafts, searching out unique treasures everywhere she lived or traveled. As a Navy Brat, she became a consummate beach bum–feet in the sand is her place to be, so she chose Pensacola Florida, a long-time Navy town in which to retire. Terrill Ann, an Army spouse for 30+ years raised four Brat sons, and worked and volunteered in supported those who serve—at the USO and Red Cross. She served as a spouse liaison, was a member of various wives’ clubs, managed a thrift shop and an overseas Stars & Stripes bookstore. She’s also worked for the Navy Exchange, Navy Federal Credit Union and in the telecommunications industry. She considers herself to be a “Jill of all Trades.”
Terrill Ann says, “Military children are affectionately known as Brats, and we embrace a unique military subculture and heritage all our own. Thousands of Brats embrace our unique name “Brat,” because it was lovingly bestowed upon us by those who serve—our parents and relatives.”
Terrill Ann recognized the need to document that unique heritage, and with the input of hundreds of fellow Brats, designed the Military Brat ID Seal. In the five years since its creation, it has been registered and copyrighted in the Library of Congress, and the Military Brat Seal has been embraced by thousands of Brats and their parents as a proud display of Military Brat Heritage. Terrill Ann is pleased to be part of the Museum of the American Military Family Team.
Military Brats Seal designs can be found on pins, challenge coins, patches, and badges of honor. They are purchased to recognize, honor or show appreciation and love for a Brat’s major milestone events, such as a graduation, retirement, birth or memorial. Terrill Ann continues to create unique gift items, many as limited editions.
Made in USA , the Brat Seal proudly waves the banner, “Pluribus Locis Nostrum” which translates to “many places are home” which truly reflects Brat heritage, past, present and future. Brats can continue to embrace their proud heritage with our Military Brats Seal , which can be found on ebay at https://www.ebay.com/usr/military_brat_seal?_trksid=p2047675.l2559
or mail check to: MAMF 546B State Highway 333, Tijeras, NM 87059
On December 3rd, people around the world donate to their favorite nonprofits. We are asking our readers to support us our efforts to get a new building. Please donate at https://www.facebook.com/fund/MuseumoftheAmericanMilitaryFamily/
The Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center is still accepting stories about dogs and their humans for our Hero Dog anthology. If you are a brat, spouse, veteran or service member and you want to write a story about a wonderful dog/s and how they helped shape you, there is still time. You will get a free copy of our anthology as your payment. We have pushed the deadline back till the end of July.
Sales from the anthology support our writer in residence program and the museum.
Email stories to:
Put dog story in subject line