We humans are essentially social or gregarious animals. We’re not accustomed to live six feet apart from family and friends. It seems unnatural when we’re not supposed to kiss and hug family members and close friends for fear of spreading the virus. And it goes against the grain to live indoors on cold, wintry days, or to wear a mask when going outdoors.

I’m originally from the New York metropolitan area though I’ve lived in Alabama the Beautiful for the past 35 years. In the past year I’ve had some family members die in New Jersey, yet I could not go up north from Alabama for the funeral service, since we’re not allowed into the states of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.

I miss seeing my nine grandchildren. Six of them, ranging in age from 1 to 14, are in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, two of them 6- and 7-year-old boys, live in Hampstead North Carolina, and one 8-year-old boy resides in Birmingham. We’re able to keep in touch with them thanks to Facetime on the Iphone and through e-mail and texting. Somehow, that’s not enough. 

Recently, my daughter-in-law from Chapel Hill interviewed us online so that our grandchildren there, ranging in age from 1 to 14 years old can remember their grandparents who are approaching 80. We wrote down our answers to several questions, as noted below.

These are some of the questions my wife and I typed up individually so that our grandkids would remember us forever: 1. We were asked how did we choose our careers and what did we like best about it. 2. What made us successful on the job. 3. What makes us unique and what are the moments that helped shape our life? 4. What three events shaped our lives and what were our awe-inspiring moments? 

5. What five words represented our approach to being a parent and why? 6. What message do you have for your spouse that you want them to remember? 7. How exactly do you want to be remembered? 8. What were the key decisions you made in life? 9. What are you most proud of in your life and what makes you most thankful? 10. What message do you want to share with your family? These questions made us think and they will be a fine remembrance that our three children and nine grandchildren will cherish as they get older. 

We humans are resilient and are adaptable to circumstances that are beyond our control, such as global climate changes and a world-wide pandemic. How do I cope without going bonkers at home? I enjoy watching Turner Classic movies on TCM, channel 861 on Spectrum. I save the movies I like on the DVR.

TCM rates the movies, (the vast majority of which are for the entire family) giving four stars for the best to one star for the worst. I usually pick only three- and four-star movies, particularly those that have excellent actors like Greta Garson, Humphrey Bogart, Laurence Olivier, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Greta Garbo, Barbara Stanwyck, and Gary Cooper. 

Most of the movies are in black and white and in addition to choosing pictures that have good actors, I prefer movies that have first-rate directors like Frank Capra, Alfred Hitchcock, and Orson Welles, to name a few. 

How else do I spend my time? I am a voracious reader, which comes in good stead when I sit down to write. Reading and writing are my two passions and keep me occupied the day long.

My wife and I also enjoy walking around the neighborhood for a while. I have a Fitbit and try to get 5-10,000 steps a day, most of which are in the house. We also enjoy driving around town without getting out of the car just for a change in scenery.  

I also enjoy spending time on the phone calling family members and friends in Arizona, California, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Canada. I particularly enjoy talking to friends who are going through a rough time or who have lost a loved one to Covid-19.  

Finally, I find myself thanking God for giving me a fulfilling life. I don’t know what lies ahead but I take comfort in my motto, “In your light, I see light,” as found in Psalm 36:2. 

Richard Penaskovic is an Emeritus Professor at Auburn University. His writings have appeared in the Birmingham News, Columbus- Ledger Enquirer, Montgomery Advertiser and online by Informed Comment and Politurco.

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