In my lifetime (and that now includes six-plus decades) I never thought anything or anyone could make me sit still or stay in or just plain stay away from people. Until now. I am trying really hard, but I have to admit I have pushed the limits. For instance, daily I go to the coffee shop on Pearl Street (and you should, too) for a skinny latte, supporting small business is a duty. It is pick up and go. All the restaurants on Spring Street are as well. When you get your energy from people this is tough.

So daily routine: get up, shower like I am going to work, check emails, try to speak with as many people as possible about things that can be done to help the homeless (while efforts are there, the subject is not broached publicly through efforts for at-risk populations), try to stay out of my husband’s way (he is currently working from home), find something to clean, think about it for a bit, then decide to do it later!

The days are long, but conference calls and my granddaughter have kept me busy. She has been here a lot because her mommy works at University of Louisville in the dental school and is having to provide essential on-site service from time to time. This is hard.

At one point last weekend, I ran into my doctor; he laughingly said you should be home, but I have been your doctor for a while and it would be like putting a cat into bathwater! That’s how I feel, too. I am here but kicking and screaming all the way. So Friday was beautiful and I sat on the porch and let Ash play in the yard. It was glorious! People waved from their cars or spoke as they walked by, Ash picked flowers for the neighbors and gifted them with the flowers as they left to go to the grocery. It was like a pleasant Sunday afternoon. I have always loved Sunday afternoons.

I could breathe, the air was so clear, everything is blooming, it was hard to believe as I marveled at the world around me that we were in a situation they only make movies about; it is surreal. The thing is while you hear and you can process the reality of it, your heart, your soul, and your need to be with others want to deny the reality of it. It really is a Barbra Streisand kind of moment:

“People, people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world.” I have always loved that song and lived it my whole life. This is hard.

The news is constant. I find comfort in the Dr. Eric Yazel’s daily dose of calm on Facebook. I find comfort from Gov. Andy Beshear and am totally envious of those living in Kentucky; his calm demeanor and his straightforward approach makes you feel we can do this. He has built a team out of his state. Not even four months in and his delivery has brought together the people of his state like no one ever has. It is amazing to watch.

I marvel at the way life goes on in the middle of the pandemic. Valerie Canon and her live spot has reminded me we don’t have to do a lot to be happy. As I watched somebody teach us how to make potato candy, I pictured my beautiful, red-haired grandmother in her apron making potato candy for us; it was like going back in time.

Which is, by the way, one of the perks of this whole thing. We get to slow down and remember, we get to talk to each other and discover, we get to say hi to our neighbors, and we get to pop into local businesses for a moment and buy (tip generously) to show support. While I was at one business last weekend my doctor popped in — I prefaced that earlier, but didn’t say why he showed up — handed the business owner something and said, “I washed it!” He didn’t purchase anything; he put a $100 bill in her hand just because he knew how important she was to the community and he knew she would be struggling.

So, maybe the biggest perks of all are the new heroes we have. The doctors and nurses who stay on watch and risk much by going to work every day, the police and fire departments, the teachers now at home but volunteering to help with school personnel distribute food to the kids, the media as they cover stories and continue to work, ministers who continue to give to their congregations, those feeding and housing the homeless, neighbors checking in on their neighbors who are infirm, and just everyday people stepping up to help.

So, while it is hard, it is a blessing as well. We have been given an opportunity to grow again as a people, a community. Our empathy is with every family who has lost someone to this scourge, and we show it fiercely.

Barbara Anderson is a local human rights activist. Contact her at

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