My eldest daughter was expected home in mid-March for her spring break from the University of Ottawa. Little did she know she would be home for over four months, finishing her classes online, and living under her parents’ roof! It was such a joy having her here. She hadn’t been home for more than a two week break at Christmas for over 7 years, and here she was living at ‘home’ again.
She was home doing her schooling from a desk in the spare bedroom, and her Dad and I were also working from home due to the pandemic. I set up my office at the dining room table and her Dad was downstairs at a makeshift work station.
We would wake up and have coffee together before setting off to our work areas. We would often make lunch together or take a break midday and go for a walk along the river. At 3:30, she would convince me to do a workout or yoga with her in the yard - she was a great motivator. At around 5:00, we would meet for cocktails on the deck before making dinner together. It was something I never imagined I would be doing with my adult daughter. We were able to catch up on each other’s lives more than we had in a very long time.
Computers became a key part of our work, socializing and shopping world. Online connecting became a large part of our daily existence during the spring. Between work and social connections, we were on our computers most of the day.
My daughter had distant movie nights with her friends from university. It was an opportunity for her to connect with her peers and do something fun together. We did zoom calls with our siblings, nephew and nieces all over the world to check in. We ordered things online that we would normally go to pick up downtown. It made us realize that we could do so much more online than we ever anticipated.
In May, our youngest daughter also returned home for a month. Now we were complete! We made the most of our time together. We had to rely on each other to take turns venturing outside our bubble for groceries. We volunteered to deliver groceries to seniors. We set up a raised garden bed and planted kale, lettuce, tomatoes and squash. Each night at 7:00, we would join our neighbours on our doorstep to cheer the health care workers with our noise makers. It was an opportunity to connect with others and see how everyone was coping. We counted on each other, kept each other going and tried to stay positive in a very stressful time.
It is now August and both daughters have flown the coop…again! My youngest is back in Vancouver, still working remotely. My eldest has moved to Vancouver for the summer. On her departure, she remarked at how grateful she was for the time spent with us and how lucky she was to have had all that extra time with her mom and dad.
I gained a new (and broader) appreciation for literacy during this time. I realized how important it is to stay connected to people and how we can alter the way we do things. How important computers became to many of us and how some people don’t have the same access to them as others. I am more aware of what we need to do in our community to help with the digital divide. I began hand writing letters to connect with loved ones that I knew didn’t have a computer.
I recognize how lucky I was to have the things I did and, even though we are in a significant, extraordinary and daunting time of our lives, I was able to find a few silver linings.
Community Literacy Coordinator Castlegar
Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy