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Memories inspired by the pandemic

Aberdeen Heights resident Martha Kaelble found herself feeling particularly thoughtful on a recent morning when reading news of the COVID-19 pandemic that is gripping the world.

“I guess I like to write, and I’ve been involved in working with the resident newsletter at Aberdeen Heights,” she said. “I read it’s a good idea to write a journal in times like this.”

When news about fighting the virus compared the effort to a war, she recalled the sacrifices Americans were forced to make during the height of World War II.

“I was born in 1933, so I was old enough to know what was going on. I didn’t have complete knowledge, but I was aware that you didn’t go out and buy a new pair of shoes. Sugar was rationed, as was gasoline. I know my Dad was an air raid warden, and he had books that taught him how to look up in the sky and recognize enemy planes.”

She recalled a story about her grandmother, who was a baker who found herself struggling when sugar was rationed for the war effort. While she needed her sugar ration stamps, she didn’t drive much and had little need for her gasoline stamps.

Martha has been a resident of Aberdeen Heights for more than eight years. She said writing and her involvement with the resident newsletter has been a hobby that helps her fill her time with work she enjoys.

Martha is thrilled to know that people have enjoyed reading her thoughts about the parallels between today, and the experiences of her youth. She is hopeful that she will find more inspiration to journal during this challenging time in history.

Martha's Journal 2020

As I hear more and more plans to "fight this war" with the coronavirus, memories come to mind of phrases used during the Second World War when I was a grade-school girl. We did things for the "war effort.” We endured things "for the duration” and experienced shortages of everyday things. Shoes were rationed, even meat. Trips were curtailed because gasoline was rationed. Some things that could not be obtained were said to be "gone to war." Plants were converted to make things for the war. People prayed for the war to end, and now people pray that this, too, will end.

There were shortages of doctors and nurses because they were needed in the armed services. My mother learned to be a Red Cross nurse’s aide and worked at the hospital, emptying bedpans and more. Now there are shortages because doctors and nurses are getting sick or in quarantine. In those days, ordinary citizens folded bandages! Now we make masks.

We experienced fear when I was little, even in my Ohio town, far from the coast. We wondered if German bombers would ever come 1,000 miles inland to cripple the steel company that was our main industry for the war effort. We had air raid drills when we closed the drapes and turned off most of the lights so the enemy couldn't see where to bomb. Some families even built air raid shelters. Now the preparations to be safe from the virus include sheltering away from outsiders and staying safely away, at least six feet, while talking to our friends. We’re trying to find some way to be safe while living in a group.

In war time, people who had family members in the service overseas worried about their survival. Now people fear for their own lives and for the health of their families. There is fear in not knowing if a cough means you or a friend are getting the virus, and there is fear of talking to someone who carries the virus or touching something that might carry it. People fear they will run out of something that is important, and they even hoard things like toilet paper. Others hoard food items, buying more than they could possibly need.

If we only could buy savings stamps or war bonds and do our part in this war against the coronavirus. But we can do something to help, we are told. We can start by helping ourselves, by being calmer, taking walks, praying, reading something devotional, meditating. We can do our part by helping comfort each other, either from a safe distance or by phone. We can check on our friends, especially the ones who can't get out. Some of us can help provide entertainment, or pass along jokes, and we all can express thanks to our workers.

We can look for ways to entertain ourselves: read books from the library, read the schedules and sign up to attend movies or programs, watch TV, play games, do crafts. We can attend the prayer services that are offered. For the most part, we are not truly isolated in our rooms. The flowers are blooming outside. Those who can should make a point to go out and enjoy them. As we wait for "our war to be over," we can plan for how to reschedule the things we wanted to do, only at a later time.

This will come to an end; only the timing is uncertain. But nothing is certain in life, so we have to learn to live with it.

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