Pushing Through With Humor
By Lisa Himonas, assistant dean for development
“The struggle is real,” wrote a colleague in early March 2021. As we approached the year anniversary of the pandemic lock down, she had just mixed up her days in an email sent to the entire College. I was offering sympathy by sharing the fact that I, and at least two others who work with us, had mixed up same-lettered months over the course of the past year—August and April, January and July, they all feel kind of the same when you wear sweat pants every day and follow a now-grooved path from your work space to your fridge. (People who’ve worn jeans every day can stop reading now. You are far too put-together to appreciate what the rest of us are talking about).
The “quaran-niversary” has many reflecting on our collective loss, exhaustion, stress, and resiliency. Far too many people have lost loved ones, missed celebrating milestones, and struggled with isolation. So many of us are tired of being constantly available via our technology, frazzled from running schools from our dining-office space, and worried about the new normal coming our way. But there are also voices acknowledging pride in any “pluck” we can muster after this long year.
For many, that involves remembering unique opportunities to be with family—from new babies to older parents—and to finding humor where we can. Special Events Assistant Paige Bolingbroke shared a story of dishwashing gone awry and Administrative Manager Rebecca Smith paused in the early panic to create a treasured moment with her kids. My family was grateful to come together at my parents’ home on a lake in Minnesota.
We hope you enjoy a moment of lightness in reading these tales and perhaps feel inspired to share your own stories. We are getting through this once-in-a-lifetime experience together—sharing laughter, treasuring special moments, and recalling time with loved ones are just a few ways to tame “the struggle,” regardless of the day, month, or year!
As those of you living with family may know, there are good and bad days in terms of familial “love at home.” This is just as true for me living with my mother and 18-year-old brother. During the summer months, all three of us were either working from home, attending school from home, or playing video games (you guessed it) from home. Some day's we hardly spoke and other days we had to find ways to entertain ourselves. One particular day, my little brother was so bored that he actually wanted to do the dishes (this was a big deal). However, my mom was already using the sink. This conflict lead to a full-fledged water fight in the kitchen, one that I happily sat back and filmed. By the end, we were all on the floor, soaking wet, and holding our stomachs from laughter. I'm grateful I've had these two goofballs to keep me company during the pandemic.
One of my favorite memories from the COVID shutdown came on April 30, 2020. To show support for health care workers, Hill Air Force Base performed a statewide flyover of F-35 jets. I live very close to one of the hospitals in the path of the flyover. My two kids and I decided this was something we had to see. About 15 minutes prior to the anticipated flyover time, my kids and I climbed up on our rooftop—a favorite summer perch for watching fireworks shows—and waited in anticipation.
I absolutely loved every minute of being on that rooftop with my kids. I asked them both to leave their phones inside and just enjoy the moment because it was something so unique to the situation we were experiencing.
That day is one of the many unique memories I now have with my kids during COVID. Having the extra time at home with them is truly one of the positives to come out of this situation. Of course not every day has been easy, and my kids remind me all the time that I am not smarter than a 5th grader (or 10th grader) when it comes to math! But somehow we’ve managed to get through this crazy time together.
Our tale began in early April when my spouse, father-in-law, and dog met up with our two daughters and two cats at my parents’ home on Turtle River Lake in Minnesota, having driven straight through from Salt Lake City and DC respectively. We planned to stay for a few weeks, “just until the pandemic passed.” Our goal was to keep our whole family safe, which we mostly did. However, we started breaking things immediately. A picture we HAD to straighten fell twice before the frame cracked; wine glasses broke at an alarming rate; my father-in-law broke a shoulder (just one); we broke the speedboat motor in May (water is MUCH lower that time of year); there was a tiny fire in the oven one night (at least nothing broke!). There’s more, but you get the picture. Through it all, my parents insisted they were glad we were there. And, shockingly, I think they meant it. It truly was a relief to be together. They’ve even invited us back this summer! They’ve also asked for a glass deposit. I guess that’s part of our new normal in a post-pandemic world. I can live with that.