Reflections on the Current Pandemic
As we all struggle to manage through these unprecedented times, we hope that you are safe, healthy and surrounded by loved ones. It’s the comfort of our community that will help to get us through these difficult days. In keeping with that spirit, we offer you the following reflections to remind you that you are not alone, and that we are all in this together. Here’s to better days ahead.
Everyone at Denlea & Carton
Medical experts and our own sense of self preservation tell us that at this moment, we need to isolate, quarantine, and remain socially distant. This is essential for our physical well being. Yet, exactly the opposite is required for our emotional and spiritual well being. We need to engage with and help the newly unemployed 26 million Americans, many of whom have fallen into poverty for the first time in their lives. You can donate to your local food bank or community center from the comfort of your kitchen table. When you do that, in conjunction with self isolation, you will be taking care of both body and soul.
If there’s a silver lining to be found in the current pandemic, it’s been the joy of sitting down together as a family for dinner every night. Our kids are in their 20s (24 and 22), and returned to the nest when our daughter transitioned to working remotely, and our son’s senior year of college was interrupted and students were asked not to return to campus after Spring break. Apart from the crossword puzzles, episodes of Tiger King, and frequent dog walks, our time together at the kitchen table every night has been the most precious. We laugh, we drink, we reminisce and, most importantly, we talk about the future. Years from now, we’ll look back at Covid 19 and remember the time we had together as a family.
Life has changed, and the litany of things we miss seems endless. At the top of my list is being unable to visit with my family, and collect the tight hugs and sweet kisses from my four, beautiful grandchildren. I have found, however, some bright spots in these dark days.
There’s the new, unfailing, weekly-scheduled FaceTime calls with my sisters for “tea and something sweet” on Saturday mornings at 10 am sharp. As we talk over each other in our excitement to share, the geographical distance disappears. These calls keep us in touch in a way far beyond our connectivity before the quarantine with our crazy, busy schedules.
But best of all, are the weekly Zoom meetings with my grandkids, playing old-fashioned pastimes like hangman, storytelling, and dice. It has become a welcome distraction for them and me – no iPads, no cell phones, no video games. Just total, focused, one-on-one time. The infectious laughter, loving teasing and spontaneous conversation were rare commodities just a few weeks ago. I truly cherish these special moments – moments I will always remember. And I think they will, too. They look forward to our chats and are curious as to what new game will be introduced. Although these times have made us closer, make no mistake, I am long ready for it to be over.
As we end each session with I love you’s and blowing kisses, the two youngest kiddos hug themselves as tightly as they can and press their little faces to the screen. Their expression of love. Of course, I still miss not being able to go to visit them, but until I can, I’m totally enjoying their virtual hugs and kisses.
Shelter in place has renewed my passion to cook. Cooking is therapeutic because it forces me to focus on the task at hand. While I am cooking, I am not watching the constant barrage of news or scrolling through the infinite loop of increasingly horrific updates and statistics of the pandemic. Now, while I am cooking, I am reminded of my mom in her kitchen many years ago. Listening and watching as she prepared and shared her delicious recipes with me. Cooking was something she loved to do and sharing it with family and friends was the icing on the cake. The pandemic has allowed me to preserve her legacy, and pass along her traditions. Working in my kitchen, prepping and preparing my menu for the evening brings back wonderful memories filled with sights, sounds and aromas of past times. It helps to ease the anxiety and tensions that I, like so many others, are feeling during these uncertain times. Finally sitting down to enjoy the meal and a nice bottle of wine with my family is the perfect ending to a “not so perfect day.”
The COVID-19 disease has tragically taken the life of my friend and neighbor, Paul Sved, an 84 year old Holocaust survivor, and a wonderful, kind, and bright man. Paul (1935 – 2020), an Engineering graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and long-time resident of Scarsdale, passed away from COVID-19 on April 10, 2020. Paul was born in Budapest, Hungary on May 21, 1935 to Klari and Andor Sved. As a young boy, Paul survived the war in one of Raoul Wallenberg’s Swedish safe houses in Budapest. Paul’s father and uncle, who had helped feed fellow Jews, were murdered by the Nazis. The German officer in charge spared women and children, but had the men shot and tossed into the Danube River. While in the safe house, Paul’s knack for engineering was already evident. Out of curiosity he dismantled the military phone connecting the house to Nazi headquarters, a feat that could have resulted in summary execution. Fortunately, the phone was quickly reassembled.
After the war, Paul and his mother went to Switzerland. While waiting for a U.S. visa, Paul was sent to boarding school in England. After being admitted to the U.S., Paul and his mother joined a paternal uncle and his family at Bridge Farm in Avon, NY. Upon completing his engineering degree at RPI, Paul became a ski instructor in Denver, CO, before joining the firm Gates Rubber as an engineer, and moving to Brussels, Belgium. After returning to the U.S., Paul met his future wife Beverley (also an RPI graduate — the only female engineering graduate in the Class of 1966) while working in the marketing/engineering department of IBM in Cambridge, MA. They married in 1971 and lived for several years in Montclair, New Jersey, and Paris, France, before moving to Scarsdale, NY, in 1988, shortly before retiring from IBM.
Paul was a terrific civic volunteer, and worked with me for several years as a member of the Town Board of Assessment Review. He also served as a poll inspector for many of the elections held in the Village. Paul’s understated kindness and readiness to be of help to the less fortunate accompanied him during his whole life. Paul was in exceptional physical shape until his fatal encounter with the corona virus that killed him. He was an avid skier, hiker, and cyclist. As we see with so many others on the news today, Paul began his life under tragic circumstances and left it in the same way — but he led a joyful, meaningful, well-loved life in between. I will miss him dearly.
I’m practicing “physical distancing,” not “social distancing.” Although I’ve been physically apart from my family, friends and co-workers, I’m grateful that we’ve been able to stay in touch with each other, even if it has only been by video or phone. I’m reminded that many others, for whatever reason, aren’t as “socially fortunate” as I am. Some may not have the same technology, and some may not have the family, friends and caring co-workers that I have. Either way, I’m using this crisis to count my blessings.
A highlight of being at home during the pandemic has been watching my preschool daughter hone her drawing skills. An ongoing challenge has been accepting that she always draws me with a snack in my hand, because “Mommy eats all the food.” I tell myself that she’s just taking artistic license and soon I will graduate to holding flowers or balloons like the rest of her art subjects, as I walk back to the kitchen to acquire a new snack.
Hollywood shows us that superheroes protect our society under the cover of anonymity, as their masks hide their real faces. This is absolutely true. Even today, superheroes visibly surround us all, but still remain unrecognizable, such as our front-line nurses. I would like to acknowledge and show my appreciation for the extremely heroic, courageous, hard-working and brave nurses on the front lines of this pandemic, especially my wife, who is a nurse at Greenwich Hospital. Today, my wife is unrecognizable — wearing an N95 mask, face shield, Hazmat-like suit, and protective gloves. My wife’s patients never see her face, but they know that she is their masked superhero, providing exceptional and unmatched care to protect them and restore their health. Everyday, I see my wife’s courage, selflessness, determination, fearlessness and heroism, and I am proud of her and all of her fellow nurses who are protecting our society during this unforgiving coronavirus pandemic. I hope everyone stays safe and healthy during these extremely trying times.
While the pandemic has affected our lives in so many unexpected and some tragic ways, it is important to find joy in the moments that do not come frequently enough – like eating dinner as a family, spending full days in our pajamas with no guilt, and binge watching our favorite shows late into the night. Before we return to the hustle of our everyday lives, remember to relish in today because we do not know what tomorrow holds. Thank you to all our healthcare and essential workers! We are all in this together!