“Courage, ma Cherie.” I think of a wonderful mentor and good friend who inspired me when training to be a teacher. In French, the word seems to rumble from within and roll off the tongue like a powerful wave to carry you on your way. Being brave; ten percent braver to write something that others will read. Heart and soul: having the strength to be truthful with yourself about who you are and what you believe in. The opposite of weak. Strength. Determination. Honest.
My parents contacted me earlier. The husband of one of my mom’s friends had passed away on Sunday in hospital. He was seventy nine and was frail and quite poorly; he’d had a few falls and, I think, alzheimer’s: the death certificate today confirmed he had tested positive for Coronavirus. Just another elderly victim with ‘pre-existing health conditions’, is how the media will convey him… And yet, my mother describes a young wiry man, a former science teacher who was energetic, full of character and a lover of wine, black coffee and cigarettes, just like his wife. He was one of us, a teacher, just a generation (or two) older. We speculate: how did he catch it? In hospital? Probably. He had been an in patient for a while and prior to that had only had contact with a carer, his son and grandchild. This is worrying. Another friend has been visiting her elderly, deaf mother in a care home, but not quite ‘in’ it, as visitors are not allowed and they wave from the window. She is shut away, cocooned from the outside world, yet her key worker’s grandmother also died last weekend from this new invisible virus that has forced this confrontation with our mortality. However, in the face of loss, finally, today, my mom was able to phone her friend after being scared to do so… who knows why. Anxiety? Concern she may be constantly backwards and forwards to the hospital visiting? Unsure what to say? Or, I wonder whether another reminder of what has passed somehow held a mirror up to her own frailties and vulnerabilities.
A heart attack in Gran Canaria October 30th 2019, resulting in a stent being inserted in an excellent hospital there and a four week stay there. Recovering from Stage three bladder cancer and a lots of radiotherapy. My mom has definitely been courageous these past three years and now, faced with this new ‘invisible enemy’ as our Prime Minister calls it, we all have to show courage again… and my parents have to learn to Skype! It all seems bizarre and surreal.
As I prepare to drop of my children for their last day at school tomorrow, I wonder what the next three months have in store. We will see. Hopefully, there will be toilet paper and soap… possibly even a thermometer.
This blog is dedicated to all the energetic, elderly, courageous teachers, carers, nurses, doctors, cleaners, drivers… human beings… with ‘pre-existing medical conditions’. You will not be forgotten.