Thursday, January 14, 2021

Catherine Drea

 

As I See It: Catherine Drea’s fortnightly column as published in the Waterford News & Star

 

YOU need to go easy. And that’s an order.

This is a recent conversation in my head. My logical side is talking to my weary spirit which is oscillating between lethargy and pure rage.

Because every year at this time I start to mull over what my expectations and hopes will be for the year ahead. Usually it’s about travelling somewhere when the weather turns to spring, or a project or a direction I might be seeking. But right now I am confused about where my hopes lie at all?

Every New Year I choose a word to guide me through. I can’t believe it but last year I chose the word “pazazz”. What sort of mood was I in? 2020 must have seemed like it was going to be a blast! The roaring twenties that my Granny danced through was maybe somewhere in the back of my mind. Here I was at the threshold of another roaring twenties only a 100 years later.

 

‘It’s very hard for many families like ours looking back and wondering. If Ireland had locked down earlier, if we had closed the nursing homes earlier, if we had better PPE in the early days; would she still be here and getting her vaccine this month?’

 

“Your Granny was a bit of a flapper,” my other Grandmother used to say with a tone of disapproval. Granny certainly enjoyed life which is obvious from the photographs of groups of Uncles and Aunties having picnics on Annestown Beach or swimming in Tramore.

They had fun. Well we all had fun. Fun that we took for granted in so many ways. But pazazz? Wasn’t that so over the top now looking back.

I woke up the other day with a right bee in my bonnet. I’m just raging. I said to my sister that I couldn’t figure out why? It’s an unusual emotion for me. Unsettling. Your rage is real, my sister told me.

Maybe it’s because I find myself looking back at the first lockdown when our Step Mum was safely ensconced in her new nursing home. “I love my room,” she told us. Her dementia had made it impossible for her to live at home any more. She had done so well to maintain her independence for so long. We were all relieved that she was finally safe and happy.

Back then no one fully understood the virus. But it’s very hard for many families like ours looking back and wondering. If Ireland had locked down earlier, if we had closed the nursing homes earlier, if we had better PPE in the early days; would she still be here and getting her vaccine this month? I’m pretty sure she would.

Right now it’s hard not to go over all the mistakes that have been made in reacting to the pandemic. As Angel Merkel said, a once in a century event; a national emergency, a crisis, a disaster.

Maybe the worst decision of all was the one to open up in December. It was a terrible mistake that will lead directly to the deaths of more of our citizens. Is it just me? I feel so sad about the people who are still dying. I don’t think we were willing to do enough to protect them. At least I can reassure my family that we knew so little at the time our Step Mum contracted Covid in her nursing home. It was at the very beginning. But now after so long, I can only imagine the grief and the rage.

Locking down is awful, don’t get me wrong, I hate it, but I sometimes wonder why some people fail to make the connection that we are locking down to protect vulnerable, ill people from dying. It’s really that simple.

I’m back to shouting at the telly. It’s a release of tension. I feel the need to shout at someone. Especially the men who make the decisions. I worry that they will mess up more. Maybe even scupper the roll out of the vaccine, and I can’t believe sometimes that their message is so garbled.

I try reading about positive thinking, happiness and goal setting. It annoys me. My sister sends me a lovely piece about how to survive and thrive in the pandemic, that annoys me too. I need to get a grip and so I pound the Anne Valley Walk from Dunhill Castle down to Annestown Beach. As usual I am somewhat restored by meeting a cheerful little robin and seeing the underside of a powerful buzzard in the sun.

We have to hang in there. Not lose hope. My head is starting to talk to my weary spirit again.

But we need to act as one now. We need real solidarity. There is a very simple message. Stay at home, stay away from people, stay safe.

I wish my Step Mum could have made it to 2021. She would have been one of the first to get the vaccine. At least a million people will be vaccinated before my turn. But I will be ready and waiting and I’ll still be here.

Catherine Drea blogs at Foxglovelane.com

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By Catherine Drea
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