The Wisdom of Elders

My treasured 92 year old aunt Vange is my late dad’s sister. She is a great lady for many reasons. Her heart is huge, her spirit playful and her life perspective vast.

Though born in NY, in 1928, on the lip of the great depression, their father sent Vange, her brother George, & his own wife (my grandma Catina) back to her hometown of Salonica, Greece, while he lived in the back Room of his delicatessen, to ride the worst of it out, with his family in Greece, while he kept the store alive.

It worked out. After milking goats & making feta cheese, speaking only Greek, and her 7 year old brother working as an errand boy, they came back to
The USA, and had about 5 difficult years as immigrants, being ridiculed, but they pulled past. Then WW2 came. Again the nation was in crisis, but bonded together, men in battle & women in labor force & growing victory gardens & on rations.

Freedom returned in the late 1940s to be followed quickly with the frightening explosion of the polio epidemic, sweeping the nation & world for a dire decade until vaccines came. But, the medical system was maxed out & facilities needed to be built just for polio/ with iron lungs, leg braces & vast nursing. She said it was very tough on the heels of the Great Depression, loosing so many young men in WW2 & then the polio.

We sat outside the other night, along biscayne bay in Miami & talked & laughed, as twilight descended with its lavender bliss & families at her condo kept social distance, while kids romped with their remote control cars & rode scooters. Very loving feelings in the air as we smiled & Waved to one another, amid lockdown .

Vange says Covid -19 reminds her of the polio outbreaks. Frightening. Sweeping. Uncertainty. And, she says… “then we only had radio & newspapers. The TV is feeding us hysteria engulfed information 24/7. It’s not helping people. Fear will make you sick”, my wise elder reminded me.

“Laugh sweetheart, laugh. Fun & laughter are your natural gifts anyway. Try to talk and laugh with your friends on the phone. Science is working hard on this, from all over the world. They solved AIDS, polio, malaria, TB, SARS. They will solve this. It’s new, it’s fast moving & my feeling is many already have been exposed & have built immunity. Sadly, the weakest will die & the strongest genetics will Live. Keep athletic as you are, get sunshine & fresh air, stay positive , follow their isolation exercises. We will pull through and the young generation will rebuild the world with their creativity & resilience. Be patient honey.

Look at all my generation went through 25 years back to back to back. The last 50-60 years have been extraordinarily safe, healthy, wealthy. It was a luxurious era you have lived in. I pray for you, Barbara & Jake constantly. And your family & friends, but watch … it’s going to be addressed and managed in the next 2-4 years. Polio & AIDS took a decade. Be patient and learn to love every precious moment and person you value. It will shift.

Find ways to smile my beauty, smile that radiant smile of yours, it gives happiness to others. Happiness is healing . Don’t forget we are here to love one another.”

God bless my magnificent, sturdy, wise and loving Aunt Vange and her lens of time and generations to offer me perspective in this cyclone of rabid fear and confusion we swirled into, displacing our boundaries, confidence and vision. We will quake and we will pull through and rebuild a new path into a new tomorrow.

Loving you all on this Sunday of early spring.

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