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Life Stateside During the Pandemic – One Year Later

Beth Kang lives in America with her husband, Chris.  They joined The Badsey Society a few years ago and have twice been to visit Badsey and Wickhamford.  Members of the Committee were pleased to show them around, including taking them to places mentioned in The Good Life – Between the Two World Wars with a Candid Camera by V C Buckley, who lived in Wickhamford for a couple of years before the Second World War.

Whilst Beth and Chris would not normally be able to attend Badsey Society meetings, the pandemic has brought them closer by enabling them to participate via Zoom at our monthly lectures.

We are pleased to include Beth’s perspective of the pandemic in America.

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My husband Chris and I did not set out to retire, sell our house, and move cross country during a pandemic. However, that is just what happened! Together with our bad boy kitty Oliver, Chris and I packed our belongings and drove two cars from California to our new home in the beautiful little town where I grew up in the Ozark region of Missouri. 

The following reflects on a few personal insights and experiences of my friends in America this past year.  
My Aunt Joan, in California commented that “Our actions and decisions simply boil down to personal choices”.  With each passing day, what we decide is based on a personal choice. This is true whether someone decides to (and has the luxury of doing so) stay home, go grocery shopping, or out to dinner. At the end of the day, in America (government mandates or not) it is also a personal choice to wear or not wear a mask. 

So many of our friends decided to focus on their blessings and what is working; even those who had Covid and were gravely ill. My hat is off to Glenda, Deana, and Joe. Survivors in the truest since. 

One friend, Debbie, said, “At first, I was feeling very isolated. Then I stopped and began counting all the blessings in life and forged ahead.”  Her sister, Sally, relies on her wit with daily Facebook posts full of sarcasm and funny jokes! 

Many friends and parents lost their jobs or had to stop working because childcare centers, businesses cut back or closed. Others began juggling telecommuting and home schooling their children.  Ellen continues to run her business and helps her young children --- “We do lots of puzzles and explore “any and everything” they want to learn about!”   

Every day, brave and selfless front-line workers put their lives on the line and teachers from pre-kindergarten to high school perform nothing short of miracles. Ann and Hillary have embraced their love of teaching, patience, and creativity to engage and inspire their students.  They have dressed up as Hippies, planned Pajama Days and shepherded online presentations and entire theatrical productions. It is beyond comprehension that teachers Gina and Angela can keep the attention of little ones (ages 5–8) online, at home for extended periods of time; often enlisting the help of parents and caregivers.
On Harstine Island, in the Pacific Northwest, friends Pete and Carole, have been reading, gardening, and reaching out via social media. Pete has utilized his public works experience to improve the surface and the drainage on one of the island’s private roads.  Friends like Kit, Becky, Nelda, and Holly keep cooking and always sharing photos of their fabulous dishes. Jeanne has been sewing at home and while Lori and Diana knit and crochet to spread the warmth to those in need.  And … my dear colleague, Karen, has been dancing away in her living room in her beautiful New England home! Art friends Rebecca, Aiko, Ann, and Vanessa keep exploring and creating. 

For many, the outdoors has been a life saver – taking walks, hiking, and gardening.  Me? I love taking photos while wandering. 

Many have heeded Mother Nature’s call and headed to the beach, lake, or the river’s edge.  Avid skiers like Cendrinne took to the slopes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. And ….  I have created some special memories while picnicking in the park with friends, Becky and Bonnie, on warm and sunny days. 

We have learned to “Zoom”, dash in and out of our neighbors’ homes – making quick “popcorn visits” and taken to drive-by events, waving at our friends from our cars.  Of course, we have all adapted. We have missed life’s celebrations – from holiday gatherings, graduations, weddings, and even sadly foregoing memorials for those who have passed.  

Two dear friends graciously shared their stories about surviving the COVID virus. Deana and Glenda both set wonderful examples for me about not taking any of life’s precious moments for granted.  A dear colleague, Joe, in Sacramento is a walking miracle. He made no bones about how serious this virus can be.

As we mark this one-year anniversary of the pandemic, we will all “Carry on” and soon find our way in the new normal.  However, let us not forget those that were not so lucky to have survived. Let us all live life to the fullest in their honor. 

Thank you to my friends and colleagues who shared their experiences! 

Beth Kang, March 2021