Grandmother and her granddaughter

What Will Your Children Tell Their Grandchildren about COVID-19?

I first spotted it a week or so ago, and it had already been doing the rounds on Facebook; an anonymous conversation far into the future, between an elderly woman and her young grandchild.

This is how it goes:

Child – “How old are you, Grandma?”

Grandma – “I’m 81, dear.”

Child – “So does that mean you were alive during the Coronavirus?”

Grandma – “Yes, kid, I was.”

Child – “Wow. That must have been horrible, Grandma. We were learning about that at school this week.

They told us about how all the schools had closed. And mum’s and dads couldn’t go to work so didn’t have as much money to do nice things.

They said that you weren’t allowed to go and visit your friends and family and couldn’t go out anywhere.

They told us that the shops ran out of lots of things so you didn’t have much bread, and flour, and toilet rolls.

They said that summer holidays were cancelled. And they told us about all those thousands of people that got very poorly and who died.

They explained about the NHS and how hard all the doctors and nurses and all NHS workers worked, and that lots of them died, too.

That must have been so horrible, Grandma!”

Grandma – “Well, that is all correct.

And I know that because I read about it when I was older.

But to tell you the truth I remember it differently…

I remember playing in the garden for hours with Mum and Dad and having picnics outside and lots of barbecues.

I remember making things with my Dad and baking with my Mum.

I remember making dens with my little brother and teaching him how to do hand stands and back flips. I remember having quality time with my family.

I remember Mum’s favorite words becoming ‘Hey, I’ve got an idea…’

Rather than ‘Maybe later or tomorrow I’m a bit busy’.

I remember making our own bread and pastry. I remember having film night three or four times a week instead of just one.

It was a horrible time for lots of people you are right.

But I remember it differently.”

Remember how our children will remember these times.

Be in control of the memories they are creating right now, so that through all the awful headlines and emotional stories for so many that they will come to read in future years, they can remember the happy times.

The author is unknown – but if you do know, please let me know. They need to be celebrated for the reminder to all of us that this time, as horrible as it is for many, will pass and that it is how we – as adults – handle it that will determine the memories our children and grandchildren have, into the future.

Those relational silver linings, like fathers playing with their children in parks or picking up the phone to someone we haven’t spoken to for months, will do as much for us as a community as any big billion dollar stimulus package.

So will other things – like more flexible work patterns, an influx of butterflies, the return of old-fashioned boardgames, a lull in peak-hour traffic and relaxed weekends. And my favourite, time. Time to listen and talk. Time to sleep and walk. Time. Who knew how much of it had been stolen from us?

The horrors of COVID19, from the deaths of loved ones to long-term challenging unemployment figures, shouldn’t be glossed over; but nor should those pieces of silver that continue to shine through the daily storm clouds.

Photograph of Madonna King

Madonna King is a leading journalist and commentator. An award-winning presenter of 612 ABC Brisbane, she has authored 12 books and now works across radio, television and online.

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