Sharing Our Stories: Alumnae Stories from the Pandemic

Marie-Louise Meyers 59 authorMarie-Louise Carkhuff Meyers ’59 is in the process of writing a book about the pandemic and is the author of three books of poetry and a children’s book, “The Case of the Missing Silver Star.” She is a frequent contributor to Class Notes and celebrates at AADC Alumnae Reunion Weekend. She writes every day and shares one of her poems about what she calls “our present predicament.” Here is her poem, shared on August 6, 2020.

Letter to my Grandchildren and Grandchildren Everywhere

The world as they know it gone in the wink of an eye
because of a mysterious unfathomable virus out there.

We’re not talking Freedom from Want,
but more like wanting freedom
for every store you want to explore is closed;
toys to set your imagination aglow;
even if school was dreaded,
going to it was far better than staring at four walls,
for the voice you hear may be your own;
the frustration when parents don’t snap to attention,
what can I get you, when all they ask for is your patience to bear
till we get a better handle on this virus.
They have more to deal with than ever before,
loss of job, stockpiling goods in case the shelves are bare,
a To Do list because of social distancing,
businesses closed which ordinarily would be eager to assist.
Most of all when you look at them, they don’t have the answers
when they always did to soothe away your fears.

Our generation grew up with “there is nothing to fear but fear itself.
Our President said in his Fireside Address on the radio
after war was declared on Japan after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Rationing made us cognizant that there were limited goods out there,
and I remember when I lined up with my coupon to get butter,
while mother went to the butcher counter.
It was not a War Zone, but we were reminded when our shoes were
repaired for the the third time, leather was scarce for the armed forces,
new was something we didn’t need, but Make Do learning at the same
time Junk could win the war saving all our metal for the war effort,
deprived of the bikes we dreamed of, keeping the Old Junker going.
So was fresh produce, we had a Victory Garden to supply our needs,
but we never got off easy, for we had to weed and strip the bean plants
when the summer was over, and squash those mealy caterpillars.
Vacations were curtailed depending on how many stamps for gas
we had left after our father’s job in a Defense Plant consumed the lion’s share.
What about the black-outs when we were ready for our Saturday night bath
we always had a supply of candles enough to get us through;
the long nights ahead with little to do but we listened to The Shadow,
easy to envision, but that was when our father wanted to tune in
to the latest news on the front lines.
We were lucky we survived, but not all the Gold Star parents and brides
felt the same, loss of life and limb was common up and down our block.

Still we were not out of the woods in our growing years,
when the Polio Epidemic seemed to appear out of nowhere
where lungs and limbs were affected.

Activities were curtailed, social isolation from places
like swimming pools and playgrounds where children gathered
without benefit of TV or a computers and in many cases, telephones.
Some children spent long months in iron lungs with only their heads exposed.
Almost every family I knew had a child afflicted,
and so all we could do for them was pray, and long for the day
we would be free of the dreaded disease.
Until the Salk Vaccine appeared many years later,
and our children were eased into a world free of that scourge.

Your primary job is rather simplistic since it involves not staying
in bed unless you’re afflicted, but simply keeping your distance
and your spirits up, restrain from hugging and kissing
unless its your favorite pet or your stuffed animal
as long as they are not shared. Don’t let those you love become a statistic,
keep your spirits up.

Behind the scenes, Scientist and Medical Experts are working on a vaccine
for COVID-19, and before you know it,
you won’t have to play Let’s Pretend, you’ll have your playmate back again,
the friend you longed for, and think what you’ve learned
how the World really turns,
for soon you will inherit it, and you have learned what to tell your children,
and your children’s children as I am telling you
because I care about you and about the world outside,
I can’t feel otherwise for we are simply an Extended Neighborhood.

I Spy on the distant horizon, Blue Birds Over the White Cliffs of Dover
when the world is free of COVID-19

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