Old people stay home, but...

Old people stay home, but...


Friday, March 27, 2020

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The Government of Jamaica has issued one more COVID-19 restriction geared at keeping those most at risk in the safety zone. On Monday of this week, the youngest Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness took to the airwaves in a broadcast and declared that, as of Wednesday, March 25, senior citizens 75 and over are to stay at home for 14 days, and those 65 and over, who are employed, are to work from home.

Yes, indeed, senior citizens 'free paper bun', and we don't reach Easter yet! Further clarifications and stipulations came to light a few days later. The not-so-young population would be able to go out once per day to conduct necessary activities, such as grocery shopping and pharmacy/medical visits, but the overall message is clear — Stay put and keep out of reach of the deadly COVID-19.

Senior members of the Government have also been given “a pass” to conduct the nation's business. Worldwide, the disease has proved especially lethal to older people. The death toll from Italy and Spain has shown that seniors and front line medical staff are the most in danger.

Question of the day: So what to do with yourself in these lockdown times?

A neighbour told me he needed more thumbs as he had twiddled the right and left 'til they were numb, and his wife had already cleaned and shined everything in sight, so much so he needed sunglasses when passing the breakfront. Well, friends, because I am dedicated to being a helpful citizen, I've made a list:

1) Telephone

Call those who are in a similar position, but don't spend the time talking coronavirus woes. Budget out the complaints to only one round of “what is this pon wi” per day.

It's important to make contact with those who are dealing with social distancing. We are a friendly culture, despite our violent tendencies. We like to chat, hang out, draw long bench, and share our joys and worries, preferably face to face. But for now, phone calls will have to fill the void.

2) Find something to do

Now is not the time to make grass grow under your feet or for you to wear a permanent dent in the couch. Try and stay mentally and physically active. Walk around the house or yard. My husband has made it his mission to pluck out every single weed in sight. At the end of this season of prohibition, there will be a wipeout of all weeds in my yard.

3) Read more

There is more to consume than reports and WhatsApp messages featuring all the problems of the world. Just look at the depressing fact that, in all of this preckeh, the guns are still barking. Find something that will make for an uplifting read. There are lots of books by local authors that speak to our roots and history if you like that sort of thing.

4) Do something old

The children are home from school on their own stay-put decree. If they are healthy and don't pose a threat, teach them about things that are slowly being forgotten. Our younger generations are missing out on traditions of the past. Bake a toto or a gizzada or a dukunoo. Teach them how to crochet. How about cutwork embroidery? Jamaica was famous for that skill. Francis Keane turned it into high fashion, and many other talented women made household items works of art with their embellishments. If you are holding fast to social distancing, and have no one to share with, go ahead and relive the memories and whip up a little something to pass the time.

5) Do something new

Churches have scaled back their services and parishioners are encouraged to take part in “The Word” online. Try it out. If you don't have the know-how, now is the time to learn. Sanitise your tech-savvy friend and have them reconnect you to the outside world. This is the future now.

Once upon a time, food and water were accepted as the basic items needed to survive. Industrial revolution made electricity another must-have. Now our very existence is called into question when there is no Wi-Fi. When one of the Internet service providers went offline this week there was great panic.

6) Give thanks

It may not look like there is much to be thankful for, but there always is a silver lining behind that dark, gloomy cloud. There will be opportunities, even as we face the rough times.

I'm sure some parents have never spent this much time with their children than now. I've heard complaints that they can't believe how much work teachers are sending home. Our children are more educated than ever before. Now we have a better idea of just what goes into learning. Be grateful for those teachers who have been steering our youth for all these years.

Give thanks for your health, and our health care workers. Do what they say. If you're going out, keep your distance, you don't know who may have been exposed to the virus, and, of course, clean and sanitise with the appropriate methods. On a broader scale, it's never too late to take charge of yourself and make the moves to a healthier lifestyle. Every little change adds up in the long run.

Say thank you for the people who are working through the difficulties. The reports say things are going to get worse before they get better. We are only going to get through this when we work together, even as we stay apart.

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or gloudonb@gmail.com.

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