‘Coronavirus: The good, the bad and the ugly of not being able to see my family’

May 09, 2020
Barbara watched her granddaughter's wedding on Zoom, just one of the many ways coronavirus has changed her relationships. Source: Getty Images

Has coronavirus changed your relationship with your grandchildren? It was a seemingly innocent question posed to a group of over-60s recently and yet the answer had been festering for some time for me.

Yes! This coronavirus has made such a difference to my life, especially the relationship I have with my grandchildren. I can think of many negatives to the situation, but there have been some positives too.

I’ve recently missed my granddaughter’s wedding (and also the adventure of driving from Sydney, New South Wales to Perth, Western Australia for the big event). Poring over maps, discussing the whole trip, thinking about places to stop and the total joy of the open road in a car that would actually enjoy the drive. What to wear, what to take, where to stay? All that stuff. Then the realisation that the whole event could never take place as planned with the closing of the borders. Full stop to any plans.

Forget about a cast of thousands (okay, a slight exaggeration) in the Perth Town Hall. Realise that, alas all the folk from the eastern states could not get there. Just go and get married. Do it. So they did.

It was a Zoom wedding, in a gazebo in a park with the five people allowed. I had to conquer Zoom, the new technology that is so familiar now (and painful). I’m still waiting for the wedding video, which will be better I’m sure, but I was there in real time for the ‘I do’ moment.

I was sitting in the kitchen in my best shirt (didn’t worry about the trousers), with a hat and a glass of champers, and I quite enjoyed the experience. The park was lovely, the bride was perfect, as all brides are, and cyclists riding by rang their bells. Very cute. The bridegroom played his guitar and sang and all was good. The bride laughed happily and it was an amazing event.

Afterwards they had cute chocolate cakes my daughter-in-law had made in little heart shapes, with two chocolate cake people in the middle. It looked really sweet. Later, they had their favourite duck dish delivered by Uber.

It’s not a wedding any of us could easily forget. I have a feeling my son — father of the bride — was pretty happy about the cost of this, since work is a bit spasmodic for him now. I’ve always been totally surprised at the amount of dollars people spend on weddings and I don’t think it makes anyone any happier in the end.

What was the good bit, you might be wondering. I haven’t forgotten. I was dieting to fit into the dress I wanted to wear and now I’m eating cake again! Not lots of it, but I had forsworn all those biscuits and cakes with the cup of tea. That’s the first interesting bit.

Next is technology that we’ve had to keep up with just to see everyone’s faces. The really horrible realisation was that it was possible to fall off the perch and not see our beloved daughter, son and grandchildren and all the relatives who lived far away. I know we’ve got FaceTime and messaging and all that but not to be able to touch people is dreadful and chilling, especially if you’re thinking about your death bed and who at our age can’t say that’s not a regular thought? Not that I’m expecting to be actually hugged on my death bed, just waved goodbye to would do, or a hand held.

On the positive? I’m enjoying the solitude of self-isolation and the clean air and the feeling that the birds are happier with their lives. It’s much easier to cross the road since fewer cars are out and about. I still do my exercise walk and pick up a coffee on the way.

Mind you it will be nice to have the morning fix in a glass or cup and not drink from cardboard. It’ll feel good to talk to people over said coffee and not try and find somewhere sneaky to sit down in peace to drink it. All the seats are covered in orange mesh in the mall and it looks miserable. The children’s playgrounds are likewise off limits.

When this is all over, I hope we’ll really appreciate all the little things in life that are a joy — the hugs, the touches and the kisses. We will count our blessings.

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What are some of the good, bad and ugly things you've faced during coronavirus? What will you appreciate more when the pandemic is over?

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