Pine Street Episode 223: Looking Back

I used to be a writer, you know. But that year, the year of pandemic and fire and protest and election and uncertainty, so much uncertainty, writing took a back seat. Your grandfather organized us. He’d started right away, as soon as the shut downs were announced, delivering groceries to people who couldn’t, or shouldn’t, go out. And as it all dragged on, he organized a group of us to do the same. 

That fall, we were too busy to do much of anything else. Between pandemic and colds and flu, so many folks got sick. And the health workers, the nurses and PA’s, they were worked off their feet. 

We would be up by five a.m. You look shocked, Nellie. But there is such a thing as getting up that early. Up by five a.m., so we could prep meals, bag and box them, and get them to doorsteps before things got too crazy. 

And not just doorsteps. We delivered to tents, pitched in greenways behind warehouses, between railroad tracks and creeks. We delivered to the cheap hotels where folks would go when they could scrape together enough money for a real bed and a hot shower. 

We delivered to houses proclaiming their political allegiances with signs and flags. We delivered to the houses where the signs and flags held ugly insults and to the ones where the signs and flags held messages of hope. 

Your great-grandfather reminded us of the few, the very few, English who delivered food to the Irish families during the famine. That effort made his life possible by saving his great-grandparent’s lives.

We were not just feeding our neighbors. We were preserving a future. 

When one of our group got sick, we took care of them, too. Made sure they had a safe place to isolate, if they weren’t sick enough for the hospital. We turned my apartment into an isolation site; I moved in, temporarily, with the man I loved. 

That’s another story, in case you ever get an assignment to study relationships in history class, Nellie. We used to do them quite differently than you might imagine.

I can see from your expression that this isn’t exactly what your history teacher wants. Come back again, soon, and I’ll try to do better.

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