Living one year in a pandemic…in your own words

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COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020 by the World Health Organization.
Life as most Americans know it, came to a halt, and in an instant, employees were sent home and stores and restaurants were closed or restricted. While those workers deemed “essential” continued working, many found themselves with time on their hands and their daily way-of-life altered. The Bartlett Express asked readers how their lives have changed over the last year. Here are their own words as to what it is like living one year through a
pandemic.
•••
Adrienne Cook – “We used to
eat out weekly and now we almost never do. If we do we try
to eat local to support small businesses. We also go camping a lot
more and do more outdoors adventures like kayaking. We even
got a new kayak for Christmas
from my parents. Luckily we
both stayed employed although
I work from home a few days a
week now. I did lose my side job
when the pandemic started but
we feel lucky to still both have
our main jobs.”
•••
Chris Thomas – “It has prevented me from being able to hug
my mother who is in a nursing
home. We are a very affectionate
family so talking through a window has been very hard.”
•••
Joel Crupie – “I learned that I
could probably survive a while
on naked and afraid.”
•••
Phyllis Higginbotham – “I
have learned how much we took
for granted. Spending time with
friends and family. Hugs and
kisses. I miss shopping and eating out. Thankful for the health
we have maintained.”
•••
Crystal Bramlett – “It kept me
away from my mom and grandmother. I lost them both last year
(not Covid related deaths). They
died two months and three days
apart. I’m hurting, still.”
•••
Paul Cook – “Outside of the
government forcing people to
wear masks, no. I didn’t miss a
day of work, nor was I scared
enough by propaganda to change
any of my daily life.”
•••
Vanessa Danley – “We take
things for granted especially
being with family and friends.
Also, I have learned that life is
very short cherish every moment
that you have been given.”
•••
Theresa Locastro – “Learned
how impatient myself and others are and witnessed some
very sick folks as well as several
friends that passed away. Togetherness can be good and not so
good sometimes. Working from
home was quite an adjustment.
Very grateful for blessings I took
for granted (medical, first responders, grocery store workers,
truckers and others that serve the
public every single day). Praying
more than ever for all.”
•••
Morgan Staggs – “Life hasn’t
changed much for us at all.”
•••
Erin Johnson – “Not being able
to enjoy family gatherings and
outings. We have four kids and
my disabled father. We now only
do take-out. Don’t just go out for
fun to look around. Worry about
gathering with family members
during holidays. It’s been a rough
transition for our family. Miss
the everyday life experiences.
Our youngest just turned one in
January. She didn’t go to a store
until the end of August. She was
absolutely flabbergasted there
are other people in the world. I
am praying that the world can
get back to pre-pandemic. You
never really think about the little things in life until something
like this happens. Can you find
food or toilet paper? Gathering around a restaurant dinner
table to catch up with family is
missed. Schools being in person
and allowing parties, parents,
and field trips. Someone passing
and not being able to be by their
side. Feeling comfortable taking
the high risk to a basic doctor’s
appointment. Being able to treat
yourself getting your nails and
hair done. No one has patience
anymore. Changing your entire
family holiday traditions because it’s not worth the risk. Yes,
we are overly cautious. I would
never be able to forgive myself
if we gave COVID to my father.
He has beaten all odds so far. I
can’t imagine losing him over
something so stupid. Praying for
everyone who had been affected
by COVID.”
•••
Christy Gebo – Lived in
Pennsylvania (the third hot
spot state) when the pandemic
hit, was walking through Times
Square the night they shut down
Broadway – my husband had to
continue to work at a prison in
Newark, NJ as the pandemic hit
the jail. We moved to back Bartlett in September because I wanted to get away from the virus, as
all the New Yorkers were moving
into the Poconos, bringing the virus with them and it kept exploding. I’m still very wary of leaving the house much, but things
here are much more lax and laid
back. We got down here during
what was still the first surge and
noticed such a difference. That
said, I’m happy to be home anyway.”
•••
Nena Stoddard – “Having to
close our business. My family
was able to purchase an RV and
do some traveling. I feel bad for
some of the families that have
endured hardships. It made me
realize time is precious, especially with your kids.”
•••
Courtney Allen – “Got married, had a baby, didn’t get
COVID while working as a
nurse, and spent more time with
family. All in all I can’t complain. Oh and got vaccinated.”
•••
Donna Coker – “I missed family at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I miss going to church and
my church family. Sad for the
loss of life sad for loss of jobs and
sad that so many children missed
school. I’m so glad to be back at
work and so glad that children
are back in school and just pray
for some kind of normalcy.”
•••
Teresa Summers-Mayberry –
“I learned how to stockpile toilet
paper.”
•••
Brandon Cooper – “Lost my
job at an auto body shop cause
they couldn’t afford to keep everyone. Recently started at UPS
since delivery companies were
so far behind from holidays and
virus.”
•••
Chuck Miller – “I used to able
to breathe in the gym and now I
wear a mask in the bank like I’m
there to rob them.”
•••
Rylie Mabe – “I miss not having to wear masks.”
•••
Jaime Osborn – “I am a better
cook now.”
•••
Melissa Chatham – “I’ve realized how important it is to be
as prepared as possible for any
sort of disruption in our regular
lives. I miss seeing and hugging
my family and friends. I miss all
the normal things I did every day
without even thinking twice. Oh
and I miss my daughter going to
school and just being a teenager
without worrying. One thing I
don’t miss, I’ve been blessed to
be able to work from home and I
love it! I feel for all those who are
not as lucky in that respect and
either lost jobs or had to work in
the midst of all this. Thank you
to all those who have kept the
world turning.”
•••
Aaron Bos – “I had a good
job, worked hard to keep it going
during Covid. Wrote the playbook, tried to keep the owner’s
wishes and the concerns of the
staff balanced, was face first in a
riot that turned into a viral video, and then got laid-off after a
year that was by all metrics, a
fantastic success for the business
considering the pandemic. Yeah,
the past twelve months have been
quite the ride.”
•••
Justin Emmons – “Everything
has changed in this past year.
Being a local business owner
of LivLimitless Fitness. We were
very much affected by this pandemic. We were shut down for
a few months, and then when
we did open back up a lot of
our folks either are high risk or
connected to a high-risk person
so they delayed returning. As a
small business we were able to
receive the PPP loan and some
grants, but it still has been a tremendous struggle staying afloat.
One quarter of last year we were
negative $6,000 a month in revenue, living off of the Emergency
Disaster Relief funds. We have
still not recovered but are improving now. We still have people who are COVID conscious
and have not returned to the gym.
To create a safe environment for
our members, we invested over
$12,000 so far, just for COVID
precautions. Including, construction costs to rearrange our entire
gym floor, created spaces six-feet
apart from each other to properly social distance, extra cleaning
protocols and supplies above and
beyond what we already were doing, UV lightings in our HVAC
units, and extra equipment to
limit sharing of equipment. We
have also changed our entire
business model, limiting class
size to 17 people per class. We
did not have to lay any employees off and we are very grateful
for that. On a personal note, due
to business income dropping, our
personal situation has also been
a struggle. We refinanced our
house, sold a vehicle, started a
very strict budget, have limited
kids activities, cancelled vacations etc. Due to fear of spreading COVID, we have also limited our visits with my elderly grandparents, and stopped virtually
all travel to visit family. We’ve
stopped having large birthday
parties for our children. We actually did a movie night outside
in May for my daughter, where
everyone had their own box six-feet-away from each other, so she
could have some type of visit with
her friends for her 10th birthday.
Throughout the pandemic my
wife was pregnant, and I was not
allowed to go to doctor’s visits,
even when our daughter had to
see a specialist for irregular heart
rhythms. I had to sit in my truck
and Facetime with my wife,
while the doctor spoke to us. Our
baby daughter has gotten used
to seeing most people in masks
constantly when we are outside
of the house. Our son is a senior
in high school and being type 1
diabetic is very high risk. He has
done his entire senior year sitting in his room on his computer
for virtual school. My other two
children, 9 and 10 yrs. old, have
spent every day of this school
year on their computers. Sitting
eight hours in front of a computer
for a 9 and 10 year old has been
a challenge to say the least. If we
make it through a day with only
one crying outburst it was a good
day. At this point our life sounds
like a depressing country song,
so I’ll put some positive points
out there. People are beginning
to come back to gyms, and other
businesses so it’s good to see that.
I personally have made a much
more concerted effort to shop
and eat at local establishments
over larger corporate owned businesses. I get to spend much more
time with my children since they
are home doing virtual school all
day, while it is difficult it is nice
to see them throughout the day.
With the kids being quarantined
and cooped up all summer, they
have gone outside way more, and
I have seen more children outside playing, riding bikes, having
fun, and doing things outside the
home, like when we were kids.
Our oldest son has done very
well with the virtual school and
I think it will help him with his
independent work he will have to
do in college. I have experienced
way more gratitude for the small
things in life. Quality time with
the family, enjoying the outdoors
rather than going to movies or
restaurants. Much less distraction
and more focus on what matters.
I’m sure there is more, but this is
what I’ve come up with off the
top of my head.”
•••
Paula Davidson – “I learned
about storing food, what foods to
buy that do not have to be cooked,
how to stockpile bathroom tissue,
how people can be so selfish, but
most importantly, I lost a few
friends due to this virus!”
•••
Angie Brown – “Not much has
changed other than my husband
is working from home. We still
go to church, vacation, family
gatherings and eat out. (I am) not
getting the vaccine.”
•••
William Bechtel – “Other than
wearing a mask, not much has
changed.”
•••
Velynda Lee – “We are both
police officers so we can’t work
from home, but I wish we could
sometimes. I refuse to live in
fear of what might happen, in a
world where anything could happen. Living in fear is no life at all
and I refuse to give up my freedom for a false sense of security.
We’re neither safe nor free if we
do that!”
•••
LaShona Taylor – “Having to
remember a mask, which I hate,
missing church events and social
events. Seeing friends and family
anytime without worry. My son
has missed out on church and
school trips and activities that
can’t be replaced. We used to go
to movies a lot, but not in a year!
Only positive thing is I feel my
family had much needed quality
time playing games and being together.”
•••
Ed Hill – “Hardly anything
has changed.”
•••
Debbie Bain – “Can’t jam
on my guitar with Richard (my
teacher) in person. More fear
of dying. Can’t audit in person.
Can’t hug lots of people anymore.
I sneeze, I get scared. Isolation.
Haven’t seen a couple wonderful
friends. More sadness.”
•••
Connie Sprague – “We were
able to build our savings account
up since we were not going and
doing. We were blessed to have
jobs that didn’t slow or close.
Helped others when we could.”
•••
Amy Nation – “I found working at home has saved me more
money than I ever have. My ental
health is actually better. However, I don’t want the ‘new normal’
to become permanent where we
wear masks, afraid of get-togethers or get use to grocery shelves
being empty.”
•••
Mike Brooks – “Canceled a
few vacations, but everything
else has been the same. Well, except for the wearing of masks.”
•••
Diane Graves – “I learned how
important family and friends are.
I haven’t been able to enjoy either
of them. Life is fragile. Losing
people to COVID is terrible. I
learned to be present in the moment with my students. Face to
face learning is more important
than the fear of getting COVID.
And most importantly, I am a
hugger and miss giving hugs.”
•••
Amanda Williams – “I have
been able to discover the job of
my dreams and build a business
around it. I’m now a single mother that works from home helping
to educate children that would
have otherwise fallen through the
cracks of the education system. I
now run the only privately owned
and operated homeschool tutorial
business in Bartlett helping with
tutoring, virtual facilitation, and
homeschool tutorial courses. It’s
been so amazing since it’s inception in August directly related to
the Coronavirus.”
•••
Jennifer Thompson – “I have
seen my mom weep for friends
she has lost to COVID. I have
seen the fear in my 10-year-old
when I contracted it. He was
afraid I was going to die. I was
handed my Mother’s Day present
at the end of a yard stick, so no
one got close to me. The Christmas, Thanksgiving and birthday celebrations all drastically
changed because of COVID. We
have learned to stay at home. To
teach our child at the dining room
table when needed. We have
learned to adapt and overcome,
but most of all we have learned to
be patient, kind and brave.”
•••
Heather Kohr – “As an essential worker, it got too bad. I quit
my job.”
•••
Amy Burden – “I graduated
from U of M in May of last year,
but I never saw my classmates
again after leaving for spring
break…no ceremonies or awards
day. I was offered a job through
the US Department of State to
work abroad for a year, but the
contract was cancelled due to
COVID travel restrictions. So,
I was supposed to graduate and
go to work, but instead, I’m now
working one-to-three part time
jobs from home and still living in
Bartlett.”
•••
Karen Proctor – “Life is fragile. Working everyday in the
medical field really makes you
appreciate your good health (even
before the times of COVID) and
the time that we have to cherish
our friends and families. Never
take life for granted.”
•••
McKenzie Prince – “We are
currently living overseas (husband is active duty military) and
our family has yet to meet our
one-year-old because of COVID
restrictions.”
•••
Susan Hemphill-Acosta – “I
learned that some people are selfish… hoarding toilet paper, food,
cleaning supplies, and masks. I
also learned that there are still a
lot of good people in the world
reaching out to their fellow
neighbor and friends in need.
My personal experience with
COVID has shown me that until
people see it first hand the gravity
of the situation is grossly underrated. Watching people die, alone
while your community continues to complain about wearing a
mask and staying indoors takes
a huge toll on the mental health
of those of us that watch this
nightmare unfold. I still want to
scream from every rooftop that
this is not a drill, but sadly most
still want to dismiss it as a government conspiracy. I’ve said it
before and I’ll say it again. I don’t
care where it came from or who
unleashed it, it is very real. Just
wear the mask and take precautions because it doesn’t discriminate. Check on your front line
friends.”
•••
Ian McCloud – “In the last
year we’ve watched as our nation has turned into sheep and
by throwing logic and reason out
the window. Still can’t believe
how many people are wearing
these face coverings. It might be
humorous, if it weren’t so sad…
and the people coming up with
these stupid rules have no idea
how much they’re affecting our
children. People being out of
work and stuck at home all for a

stupid flu virus is just ridiculous.
Depression, suicides and alcoholism have skyrocketed and no
one seems to care. My life hasn’t
changed a whole lot, but my kids
have. If you don’t like my answer
that’s fine, just censor me, I don’t
care I’m just done with it all.”
•••
Jackie Tarver – “I learned lots
of patience.”
•••
Torrey Shoaff – “I learned a lot
about people’s character and how
fragile our freedoms and rights
can be. Our community is awesome and when small businesses
pulled together we were able to
accomplish great things.”
•••
Profe Heatherling – “We pivoted our business model and provided essential instruction to students in new ways. We learned
new skills, gave parents the autonomy to make the best choices for their families, and worked
ourselves to the core in learning
to navigate this new normal.
Moving ahead, I’m more aware
than ever that we cannot predict
the future, and that education is
so highly regulated. Lots of people making decisions who have
never been in the profession. I’m
proud of our resilience.”
•••
Buffy Ward – “I have worked
more in the last year more than I
ever have. Not a bad year.”
•••
Crandall Quinn – “Felt more
drawn to make a difference in
Bartlett.”