Being oldish during a pandemic

2020-05-18T15:19:05-07:00May 17th, 2020|

My husband is a scientist, and has determined that the novel coronavirus which leads to Covid-19 is primarily and most contagiously spread via aerosol, which means it rides like a gas on people’s breath. We are wearing masks outside our home, even in the outdoors if people are within six feet of us. We have had a couple of workers come into our home when well-ventilated with all our windows open; we all wore masks and stayed ten feet away from each other. We plan to live like this until there is more comprehensive and widespread testing and there is a cure and/or a vaccine for Covid-19.


We’re not happy about this, but we are resigned to living this way, because I am 72, he is 60, and all the deaths from Covid-19 in our community have been people over 65; the hospitalizations have mostly been people over 50. And I am sure as hell not ready to sacrifice myself or have possible long term kidney or lung damage for people who think we should just open up and see what happens.


I was primed for isolation early in my life. I was quarantined with polio at age 3 for two weeks in Los Angeles, which was frightening and upsetting, and then was in a hospital for six months when no longer contagious, with my parents waiting to find out if I was going to show any sign of being able to be rehabilitated. It was lonely. Even though the hospital was full of polio children, we were kept in cribs and never played with anyone. My mother came to see me for an hour a day, and on weekends I commuted to a nearby apartment to spend two days with my parents, the only time I saw my affectionate, teasing, daddy. When I was able to walk with half-crutches, we moved to a rural town when I was nearly 4, where I spent my childhood. Many afternoons I rested alone, reading, singing and watching old movies on TV, but I also played with kids in the neighborhood every chance I got.


My dad died when I was 7, and when I was 8, our town was flooded; my mother and I scraped mud off our floors with kitchen spatulas and slept in an acquaintance’s child’s bedroom 7 miles from our home for a month till we could move back. Some people we knew drowned in that flood. The community pulled together to help each other when needed.


So now, it just doesn’t seem that big a price to me to stay home to save lives. Yes, I’m really lonely for my girlfriends; I deeply miss going out to lunch with them since that is my primary social life. But now we have Zoom, so it’s possible to at least virtually hang out with them. Yes, I miss going to movies and hearing live music. But we have a panoply of entertainment with cable TV. I need to see an eye doc for my cataracts, and I need a shot in my painful back which cannot be accomplished till the surgery center opens up again. I’m just dealing with it all. I have to.


I know that we are fortunate; we have worked insanely hard all our lives (my husband still works very long hours from home) and we have a nice home, garden and savings. And I am acutely aware that this is not the case for many others, so we have been contributing what we can to charities who take care of jobless or hungry people, and we get take-out a few nights a week to support our local restaurants.


Meanwhile, five people I loved have died in the last few months (not from the virus) and we just had to put to sleep my beloved 16-year-old kitty, Lucy. It has been exceedingly difficult to be grieving during this time when we cannot be with friends and relatives.


But gosh, my parents lived through World War II. I learned to put aside my personal concerns when there’s something that affects my community, and to be patient with circumstances not of my choosing. It seems it’s a lesson some people of this era were not prepared to learn.


Stay home unless you are an essential worker or are in danger of starvation or losing your home immediately. Wear masks if you go out. If you socialize, do it outside with 6 feet or more of distance and a mask. This situation is not going to last a lifetime, unlike the paralyzed leg I inherited from polio.



  1. Karoly May 18, 2020 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    Thank You Francine, way too many selfish people in this world. I totally agree with you and thanks for sharing!!

  2. Francine Admin May 19, 2020 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    Thanks, Karoly, for reading and commenting!

  3. Judi Vieira May 23, 2020 at 12:04 am - Reply

    Thank you Francine for sharing your life with us. Thank you for demonstrating the gift you have, of being grateful, accommodating, and the optimistic outlook you have on life. Thank you for putting it all in perspective.

    • Francine Admin May 23, 2020 at 3:35 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Judy; sent you a personal reply via email. Really appreciate your encouragement and comments. Francine

  4. Susan Arzani Burman May 25, 2020 at 8:55 am - Reply

    I love you Qahira. Beautifully written like your book. I’m hoping we will learn about how to protect ourselves and our friends, and maybe head off a bad flu and cold season as well as Covid-19.

    While I’m walking my dog, people are distancing and giving a wave when one of us walks in the bike lane or crosses the street. We walk 3 miles in the mornings.

    • Francine Admin May 25, 2020 at 3:57 pm - Reply

      Thank you so much, Arzani. I am very glad to hear how your sane and kind neighborhood is behaving! I have also had the thought that we might not have as bad a flu season. But I always get vaccinated for the flu, so it has not been bad for me for many years. “They” say that if you get a different strain, the vaccination still helps reduce the severity, so in my experience, that’s been true, if I’ve gotten a flu at all. Enjoy those walks outside! Love, Francine / Qahira

  5. Joan Goff June 12, 2020 at 10:53 pm - Reply

    Hi Francine, just read this this and admire your thoughts. I also grew up in Yuba City having moved there in 1955. Started school at Gray Avenue in the 7th grade and yes also went through the flood.
    I now live in San Rafael and am home bound. But I garden, love to read and have two loving sons and two beautiful grandsons thanks to my beautiful daughter in law…stay well!

    • Francine Admin June 14, 2020 at 1:58 pm - Reply

      Hi, Joan,
      It sounds like you are 4 or 5 years older than I am; Gray Aveneue must have been a brand new school when you started there. You would likely enjoy reading my book which has memories of Yuba City in it. The San Rafael libraries have it if you cannot buy it, but you can of course also buy it from online sources! I also live in San Rafael! Perhaps we could at some point get together. I am beginning to venture out and am only housebound by choice due to the pandemic.
      Very best regards,

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