Just a simple life
FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura (The Philippine Star) - September 27, 2020 - 12:00am

Sometimes I stare at the ceiling wondering: what is the quarantine teaching us? Suddenly we were commanded to stay home in order to stay safe. No one was allowed to go out. We followed the government’s instructions strictly for so many months I have lost count. I know the pandemic started in March but when did I first go out? Maybe in June. What did I do from March to June?

I think I let life carry me along. First I fixed our room. My husband had many statues of the Virgin Mary tucked around the TV screen in front of our bed. I had a statue of the Blessed Virgin as a simple young mother that I bought almost 50 years ago in a church with catacombs somewhere. I fell in love with the simplicity of Our Lady and the Baby Jesus in that statue. I bought it and have brought it with me through all my moves all these years. It was on our postage stamp porch where I used to pray every morning.

But my prayer habits had changed. I had started to pray the rosary every night. Shortly before the pandemic began my husband asked if he could pray the rosary with me. When the pandemic began I put all our statues together and created an altar by the window. I think that’s the first thing I did during the pandemic.

Then I began to sort out my clothes. What do I do with the ones I want to give away? I decided to give them to our tiny helper. She didn’t want them because I am so tall and she is so small. “Don’t you have a sister who sells things?” I asked. “Maybe she will want to sell these? You can keep the money.” Now she tells me her sister sends her thanks. That was a good idea, I thought.

Now what do I wear? Shorts, T-shirts and four nightgowns. If you stay home, why bother to get dressed? I don’t wear makeup anymore. Why bother when nobody recognizes you under the face shield and the mask? I worry more about breathing well. Shields and masks stifle me. I feel suffocated when I wear them.

What have I learned from this pandemic? Only one very important thing: Life is so simple. You don’t need much to live. Of course I admit that, because of our ages, I realize we need helpers to see us through. They are the ones who go to the supermarket and buy our food and bad habits we cannot seem to live without like Coke Zero, orange and chocolate popsicles and ice cream.

When my husband had his ischemic stroke we needed the strength of our driver to help him walk steadily especially in the middle of the night. Now he is able to walk alone with his cane. But we still need the driver for his culinary skills. Our driver cooks very well and we need him to keep us well fed.

Every day we have a schedule. We wake up whenever we feel like. Usually I get up ahead at around eight. Then I take 24 steps to my seat at the dining room table to drink my daily dose of StemEnhance Ultra, which I still sell and which, by the way, works very well for your immunity to COVID-19. Then I have to kill half an hour before breakfast so I talk to God and after that play Solitaire on my cell phone. If Loy wakes up early enough, we eat together.

After breakfast I get into my shorts and T-shirt and make rosaries. I can’t believe this. I sound so pious. But I have about 30 rosaries to produce since I said I would sell them. And I make them myself. I finish around two a day.

We lunch together at around two. Between meals Loy watches TV. I make rosaries until around five. Then I watch Netflix to relax my hands, which, by then, are very tired from making rosaries. We have dinner at seven then go our ways again but meet again at nine when we pray the rosary together, then watch a bit of TV together, and finally fall asleep.

This is our life now. It’s very simple but nevertheless very happy. We have a small, simple flat. We are doing different things but are never more than 20 steps away from each other.

I think the biggest lesson learned from the pandemic is the value of simplicity. It has taught us what we need and what we don’t. It has taught us the value of being together and the value of doing our own things but never losing touch with the rest of the family through phones and Zoom.

In the end, what else can we want from life?

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