Why I am thankful for the pandemic

Chloe Forbes, Editor-in-Chief

With the cases of COVID-19 rising in Erie, this winter break looks a little different. My days aren’t filled visiting friends and sitting in coffee shops like usual, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I find myself sitting down every morning and reading through a bunch of newspapers — whole newspapers, not just the headlines. Like every other person, I’m “focusing on myself,” whatever that means.

What’s really different are the implications that come from the pandemic, though.

My grandparents are the light of my life. In order to keep them safe, I’ve stayed sheltered at home, my outings being to the pickup spot at the grocery store, the Starbucks drive-thru and of course, my grandparents’ house.

Even earlier in the year, my grandfather became very ill. To preface this, he’s been sick for a long time – years actually. It’s different now, though. It has come to my attention that our time together may come to an end soon. I don’t know if it’s going to be next week or another year, but I know our time won’t last forever. There’s always been a thought of what might happen, but I guess I never allowed myself to think about life without him before. Then it set in that he may not be there to hug me when I graduate from college, to meet my future life partner or most importantly, to see where my career takes me.

It’s important to know a few things. My grandfather is a hero. He built the family that I could never live without. Every trial life throws at me has always been manageable because I have the best family in the world to support me every step of the way. My grandfather taught me what a real man should be, especially when my own father couldn’t. I can never repay him, or my grandmother for that matter, for the endless love and care they’ve given me. For heaven’s sake, I didn’t even know how to take care of a car before spending time with him.

He wasn’t always the grandfather who coddled us and made us believe in unrealistic ideals, and for that, I’ll always respect him. He taught me discipline and hard work, and don’t think for one second that when my kids complain about not wanting to eat all their food that I won’t be telling them to finish because, “it all goes to the same place.”

On the other hand, we always had a special bond. After a long day of running the farm and bailing hay, he would come in completely exhausted, but he would still let me sit in his chair with him because that was my favorite spot. He reads all my articles and brags about me, and even though I have tattoos he doesn’t like, I’m hoping I’ll be successful enough for him to overlook that.

My grandfather was a Marine, a firefighter and a farmer. He cared for his community more than anyone I have ever met. He has broken virtually every bone in his body whether through a farming accident or slipping off a salt truck. He has beaten cancer multiple times, even if this time it’s fighting back. I’ll never forget the look in my grandma’s eyes and the break in her voice the day she said, “I keep just wishing for it to be tomorrow, but tomorrow is always worse.”

I wanted to write this because my grandfather raised me to understand that the best way out isn’t always the easy way out. If keeping him safe means giving up simple outings like eating at restaurants, spending time with friends, going shopping or anything else, that’s exactly what I’ll do. This pandemic has been full of finding new ways to spend time with my family, but it has also been an opportunity to reflect on how grateful I am to even have that ability.

Remember those you love the most this holiday season and stay safe.



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