VIOLA - The name in the return address read ‘Grace.’ I tore open the plain white envelope and took out the numbered sheets lined with neat cursive handwriting. Before I even left my mailbox to cross back over the road, I began reading–looking up only when I started down the slope of my gravel driveway.
I first met Grace in the basement of the ‘vanilla church’ in Westby, Wisconsin. Grace is taller than me by at least four inches, has white hair and smiling blue eyes, looks great in jeans, is sharp witted, and tells jokes with a hint of mischief. In her mid-80s, she’s been attending my Strong Woman exercise class twice weekly, and typically drives herself to class. However, classes were halted weeks ago due to the pandemic. So now, Grace sends letters and cards to stay in touch.
When I call Grace to check in with her, we talk about how much we miss our exercise classes. We both agree that while the exercises are beneficial, the social aspect of our classes is even more so.
Grace tells me in her letters that she is fine with staying home. Her son drops off groceries, her niece brings cookies, and her granddaughter stops to chat from a distance. Grace also shares that she’d rather be picking up sticks in her yard than cleaning out closets—something I can relate to. And she raves about her neighbors who have a six-month-old daughter and how she adores their safely distanced chats.
A recent letter from Grace was a one-page poem that made my day, but also reminded me of the importance of staying socially connected while we are physically distancing.
I do not have the nasty flu
And I am hoping nor do you
So do you think it won’t be long
Till you are making women strong?
Pushing us to curl and flex
to bend our knees
and stretch our necks.
“Put down your ball
and grab your weights.
You may sit down,
Just sit up straight.”
To hear you saying
“Just one more—
oops, I lost count,
there’s really four.”
I miss the stories
miss the fun
And I miss seeing everyone.
But if we stay six feet apart
and wash our hands
don’t sneeze or spray,
perhaps this quarantine will quit
and you can help us to stay fit.
The exercise classes Grace participated in won’t be meeting anytime soon. The church we used in Westby has committed to staying closed and offering only virtual worship services until there is a drop in positive COVID-19 cases.
There are many Graces in our community, both older and younger folks who live alone and are staying home as advised. Remembering the importance of that one phone call, notecard, or driveway check-in is critical. Having social outlets makes a huge difference in how people feel.
Recently, I opened a card from Grace and found this short, dry message:
Can you cut hair?
Thank you, Grace for reminding me that reaching out is crucial for people’s well-being, as well as having a great sense of humor.Whosesaving Gracewill you be today?