I remember watching my granddaughter Sydney flying over a fence on her horse Oliver Twist at a national horse show at the age of 16. I wondered where she found the courage to stay on his back and even smile, and then remembered she came from a long line of very strong women.
My mother left a small village in Hungary and came to America on a huge steamer at the age of 17 when her own mother finally sent for her. Unfortunately, her mother died before she arrived, and she had to make her way in a country full of strangers where she didn’t even know the language. Years later, my mother had married, had a child, and earned enough money to open her own small restaurant, which featured her Hungarian meals.
Along with my father, my mother encouraged me to follow my dreams to become a writer when other young women were told they had to be teachers, nurses, or secretaries. In a time when only six girls in my class of a hundred twelve went on to college, I applied for and received a full scholarship and eventually wrote books, short stories and articles that got published, took photos for the New York Times, and sold my jewelry creations to seventeen art museum gift shops. I also married, raised four children, and continue to write in my golden years.
My one daughter, Sydney’s mother, got a scholarship to Vassar and went on to Penn Med to become a well known pediatrician who specializes in treating abused children and those with Tourettes Syndrome. Sydney, my daughter’s oldest of three, is now going to USC law school to be a civil rights lawyer to fight for the rights of the underdog.
With all of these amazing examples of strong women before and after me, I have finally found the courage to give the President of the United States another chance. Maybe he does not understand what innately powerful women need to stay strong in these difficult days.
After 18 weeks, or it could be 19 or 20 (time no longer seems to have meaning as I only know that I have not seen my family since Christmas), I need to have him acknowledge that we are dealing with a life threatening pandemic outside. I need to have him stand at the podium and wear a mask as I do every night when I water my plants in this heat wave during the hottest summer on record because neighbors may walk by and want to talk during the 20 minutes I spend outside.
I need to have him compliment me on calling or emailing or Face-Timing other elderly friends who are also staying in their homes, as I try to assure them that they are not alone.
I need to have him say “good job” the way my pediatrician daughter does when she hears that I am taking Olli of Penn State courses by Zoom and trying to work on the final draft of a novel, short story, or a new poem, read a book, or watch a movie on Netflix, to keep my mind alert and my spirit from getting depressed.
I need to have him acknowledge that only seeing my family on our weekly Zoom or in photos and not being able to hug them for months because of my age and risk factors is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.
I want him to feel that I am smart to have telemedicine calls with my doctors, spend a couple hours a week to have groceries delivered, and have my medication sent to my home by mail. I want him to be as grateful as I am that I have a kind, young friend to buy me birthday cards for my family and friends, mail a package, or even buy me a new mop because my family lives so far away.
Finally, I need to have him stop talking about some new FBI building he wants to build with funds that should go to new testing and tracing, and think of the lives he needs to save instead of how he will make more money or win an election.
I think I am doing my part, as difficult as that is at times, and I need our President to stop harassing and insulting me because I am a liberal and acknowledge the fact that we have a huge problem out there and we need to care for each other to help people survive.
I am one of the lucky ones in that I have a home with a few air-conditioned rooms and enough food. I worry every day about the people who are about to lose their home when they are evicted, or don’t have money to buy food for their families, and don’t have insurance for their medical bills if they do get sick. All I have to do is try to stay well and alive. So many people have so many more problems. Many also have to deal with wild fires or hurricanes and our medical personnel still needs PPEs and hospital equipment in newly affected high risk states that need more beds and emergency equipment.
To get more personal, we do not need more photo ops of you on a golf course, Mr. President. We need photos of you opening new testing centers and delivering protective clothing to front line caregivers, and telling schools it is okay to use virtual learning if they are unable to provide safe environments for our teachers and their students. The lives of my seven grandchildren may depend on your decision.
Please, please, Mr. President, show us that you do indeed have compassion for ALL the citizens you need to lead in this country, stop trying to divide us, and help us bring down the numbers of our infected, which has now surpassed 5.78 million, and our dying. We have lost over 178,000 people who were alive in March. And for God’s sake, please stop saying: “It is what it is” when talking about the pandemic and the 1,000 a day who are dying. Each one of the those numbers is a grandparent, a grandchild, a mother, father, child, sister, brother, cousin or relative of some kind who was loved by others who are now grieving for them. At any moment, I realize that I could be one of them. I am almost 80 years old, a widow, and have numerous risk factors that make it impossible for me to see others in person without risking my life. I am not an “It”. I am a person who loves others and is loved by them. I want to live.
No matter how long you are in office, please let your final legacy be that you cared enough to put the needs of your people ahead of your own. Please listen to experts like Dr. Fauci and encourage others to use certain precautions to save lives by your example in one of the most difficult times in the history of our country. Please, Mr. President. Please. Please.
Author and photographer Margaret B. Duda’s books include Traditional Chinese Toggles, Four Centuries of Silver, and Dollhouse Accessories and How to Make Them.
Categories: Sister Sirens