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  • Barbara Stark-Nemon

All We Still Have

In these days of such challenge and insecurity, even those who seemed to step up to the distress and disruption of the Covid pandemic in the early days of March and April have, with the continued assault of dysfunctional politics and social unrest, descended into a continuum from torpor to various grades of depression and anxiety. Is the pandemic getting bet

ter or worse? Will our democracy survive or fail? Are all the divides in our society reparable or permanent? Where can we look for inspiration and comfort in these times?

My youngest sister had a big birthday on the fourth of July. Known for good reason in the family as the “little firecracker” Julie is the smallest (ok, maybe sometimes called the runt of the litter), the funniest, the most energetic and often the convener among our four siblings. Used to participating in the community fourth of July parades wherever she has lived, (she recently admitted she thought for many early years these parades were for her…), this year was going to be a quiet celebration. But her husband, ever the maker of good times, colluded with immediate family members to produce a surprise celebration in two private homes on the coast of Lake Michigan, a reasonable drive for all involved. (He gets the photo credit for the hands). Divided by “pods” of sheltered-in-place families, we managed to have our 95-year-old mother, two sisters, two sons, and a brother-in-law’s family to celebrate our sister’s six decades of life. It was a small, safe, and soul-recharging 24 hours of good conversation, good food, and good company.

At one point, the three daughters and mother looked at our hands to see whose were alike, and whose different, in the timeless way of close women, comfortable with each other. My hands more like my father’s stubby ones, my sisters’ more like my mother’s graceful ones, but all aged hands that had worked a lot of life. A photo snapped told the story. A benediction of hands bringing together all we still have. ​​​