One year ago this month, the impact of the pandemic hit the region. Events were canceled, stores and schools closed, and people were advised to self-isolate, all in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Inland 360 asked readers to share memories of their experiences over the past 12 months.
A birthday to remember
When Jakoby Kershisnik turned 6 last year, his birthday party was canceled because of the pandemic.
“He refused to let it ruin his day and decided he would ride his new bike from Uncle Joe, packed his new Pokemon wallet with birthday money, and off he paddled,” said his mother Katie Kershisnik of Lewiston. “Orchards McDonald's, I'm sure, got a big surprise seeing this little motorist pull up for his birthday lunch. Thank you, McDonald’s, for keeping this little boy smiling.
Katie Kershisnik, Lewiston
On May 16, I volunteered to deliver graduation signs to the homes of high school seniors in Pullman. Two weeks earlier, on May 1, I helped deliver meals to senior citizens in Pullman. As I reflect on these experiences, I see strong parallels.
Some graduating seniors sat and gazed out their living room windows waiting for their signs to be delivered and likely wondered why I had not yet arrived. I was slow in my deliveries, in part because of my age, but also because I wanted to take time to talk to the kids about how they were coping with the isolation and online learning. Mostly, I wanted to hear from each of them about their hopes and plans for the coming year. A student and sometimes a parent came to the door to express appreciation to the school and staff for celebrating the graduating seniors of 2020. These conversations conveyed the need and desire to connect with the school, friends and teachers.
Two weeks earlier, I had been slow on my Meals-on-Wheels deliveries. It took time to don a mask and sanitize and re-sanitize my hands between deliveries. One senior citizen, the last to receive a meal, even called to ask whether lunch was coming. Most watched from their windows as I placed their lunch in the awaiting cooler; a few stepped out on their porches. They were so appreciative of a warm, nutritious meal and a chance to interact with another person.
Some seniors needed healthy food. Some looked for affirmation. Some needed both. As a volunteer, I could identify with them, the young and the old.
Trish Bechtel, Moscow
Learning new habits
On March 1, 2020, we attended our granddaughter's 9th birthday party in Portland. It was a lively event, with about 15 kids and as many adults with a pinata, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, food, fun and drinks. We had a great time.
Returning home a few days later, my husband felt really sick, a sickness like he'd never had before: chills, no appetite, zero energy, loss of taste and the “worst cough he'd ever had in his life.”
When we went to the doctor, we asked about this virus that was starting to become newsworthy, but there was no testing available and the protocol was: “Have you recently been out of the country?” He was tested for the flu, which came back negative, and was sent home with an antibiotic, which didn't faze it. For three weeks, my husband sweated it out and finally, slowly recovered.
Then the shortages and panic began. Our Portland son was on the hunt for toilet paper and, after a couple of days of worry, he triumphantly texted us a photo of his score. As a teacher, he began teaching remotely, as did our music teacher kids in Boise, who quickly assembled an “outdoor greenhouse” to teach their students and sustain their business.
Our lives changed, along with everyone else’s, and we found new ways to socialize, social distance and keep in touch with family and loved ones. The events we attended were mostly outdoors, and physical contact was kept to a minimum. For a hugger like me, this is/was tough.
We designated one day a week “Adventure Day'” and we walk, hike, picnic, drive and explore.
I don't like it; I long for the day when we “get back to normal life,” but COVID-19 has heightened our sense of the gift of gratitude.
Nancy Orton, Lewiston
Leaning on wisdom gained
When self-isolation was first recommended, I was already confined to my home because of a spinal compression fracture. Both turns of events taught me to learn to be patient and accept and ask for help, which stretched my overly independent streak.
Wearing masks taught me that many (if not all) of us rely on lip reading and facial cues to recognize and relate to others. In the future, we may understand how important those smiles are and do more of it. I have felt deprived of the healing and calming power of human touch, something called “skin hunger.” Not being able to celebrate special family events by gathering together has caused feelings of deprivation.
Since I am of a “certain age” I have accepted this inconvenience as yet another crisis. I compare it to the restrictions, fear and loss during World War II. Travel was not possible since gasoline was rationed and tires were hard to get. The tires you could get were retreads and didn’t last long at the restricted 35 mph speed limit. We had ration cards that allowed us to purchase limited amounts of items such as shoes, bedding, meat, certain types of clothing, butter and cheese, to name a few. We were asked to save and donate many things, such as scrap metal, rubber, even the tiny amount of aluminum on gum wrappers. These kinds of things could be used in manufacturing munitions for the “war effort.” Fear was always present, fear of possible invasion of the West Coast and deep concern for friends and loved ones in combat.
I try to think of each day as turning the page of a novel. I can’t wait to see how it will all end.
Now it seems like everything is falling apart and thrown in the air. The question is: In what order will these parts be when they come down and reassemble? Will we come to appreciate and learn more, notice more, have increased gratitude and, most of all, be more kind and loving? That is what I hope for all of us.
Glenda Hawley, Moscow
Waiting for a chance to play
I play 10 games of solitaire before breakfast. I do not play on the computer. The physical act of shuffling cards takes me back to the bridge tables at the Pullman Senior Center, which is now closed. I miss my friends and a competitive game.
My friends still play in each other's homes. I've had two vaccinations, and I am ready to play. My sons conspired with Dr. Fauci and determined that their 87-year-old mother should stay at home. I now have experienced the role reversal of parent and child.
When I am out of solitary confinement, playing bridge, I will try solitaire on my computer. I will also hug my sons.
Janet L. Maguire, Pullman
We asked Inland 360 Facebook followers: What item (besides toilet paper) did you struggle to find in the pandemic?
Here’s what people listed: