During this past year, we all have been indelibly marked by COVID. The simple routines of life were glaring by their absence. How we missed hugs and kisses, visiting friends, eating in restaurants, travel and vacations. Instead, we were confronted with fear of the virus, lockdowns, quarantines and cancellation of church services, weddings and funerals. Despite it all, the recurring theme in comments from the Golds of ’67 was just how grateful we feel for the blessings we do have – good health, vaccinations and Zoom. The lessons we learn continue and we extend our support and sympathy to those who did experience the loss of family and friends.
Personally, I am deeply thankful for the hard work and efforts of Trish Clark Seifert, Marguerite (Muggsy Ernst) Mason, Genie Flahie, Sue Numrich and Nancy Viano Brown in navigating the innumerable details to establish the endowed scholarship in honor of Boodie and Sister Lidwin. Together their unique talents and expertise resolved the myriad details necessary to bring the idea to fruition. Recently while speaking with Boodie’s husband, Pete Clark, he asked that I assure all of Boodie’s golden sisters of his deepest appreciation for their contributions to the scholarship fund. In addition, special thanks for assistance with the Weekly Reader to Genie, Muggsy and Sue. Now let’s take a look at what 67’s golden girls learned during the year of COVID.
Karen McLinden Hickman, semi-retired, teaching online creative writing classes, resides with husband Bill in VA. They moved there prior to the pandemic. (The running joke is that 6,000 square feet is hardly downsizing.) Son Brian and family are in Ohio while daughter Erin and family are in Albuquerque, NM. Lisa and family are nearby. With six grandchildren, google meets and phone texts keep them together. Karen has a children’s book at the publishers that will hopefully be out by summer, another blessing. Although Karen thinks of 2020 as an intensely sad, distressing inconvenience, she acknowledges that she is blessed. Everyone is thriving.
Kathy Seubert Heberg claims she has nothing to report, except that she and her husband Ed have both received vaccinations. They are still being cautious and dutifully wearing masks. She has just about given up on finding Lysol wipes, but will not miss wiping everything down in the evening. In an effort to continue downsizing, Kathy is going through all the many articles, magazines, etc. that she has saved to read in her “spare time” and is making painfully slow progress. Other than that, she has joined the ranks of women who have decided to see what color their hair really is. Yep, it’s gray!
From sunny FL, Sue Walson Stolzer reports that the pandemic seemed easier in Florida because she could continue to walk outside, play golf with her husband and see family who live close by. Her community was hit hard by deaths, but COVID only seemed to be a complication. Sue’s son in San Antonio, her daughter in Plantation, FL, and their families all had bouts with COVID, but rallied through. Another son, a Port St. Lucie paramedic, was able to arrange vaccinations for Sue and her husband (all legally so don’t be a hater)! In addition, they procured precious tickets and enjoyed a baseball spring training game. Recently, Sue joined up with her PEO women’s group which had not convened in person since March 2020. Of course , no cruises, no hotels and no visits with the out of state loved ones, but that’s coming soon. Masks and distancing aside, this is the new normal! Sue confirms that she knows how blessed they were and continue to be.
Marie Richards Zawatzky reports what she has not done in the last year. She hasn’t visited with friends; hasn’t dined out; hasn’t traveled to favorite Pacific NW regions for weekend get-aways; hasn’t shared precious moments and holidays with family; hasn’t shared hugs and kisses with grandchildren; hasn’t been able to attend the funeral when her sister in Maryland died of COVID-19. Marie also decided not to continue the above list because she believes that to dwell on what we have lost is futile. Besides, Marie is still a firm believer in Hope for a Better Future. After all, more folks are getting vaccinated all the time, and she and her husband Larry are in reasonably good health. Finally, delightful adventures still remain on her bucket list and hundreds of wonderful books still await. Onward!
In addition to assuming some long term Weekly Reader assignments, Marguerite (Muggsy) Ernst Mason may have found a second career in the theater. Muggsy admitted to her bravura performance as a sheep in the Zoom Christmas Pageant at her church. It got such brilliant notices that she has been invited back to participate in the living Stations of the Cross. Her role as one of the Weeping Women of Jerusalem offers a challenge to appear both inspirational and uplifting while contemplating the destruction of Jerusalem. In between her roles, Muggsy drives her neighbors hither and yon all over Vermont, tends to her garden and educates her Trinity pals about the joys of pure maple syrup.
Jane Herlihy Dee has learned to plan ahead, make reservations for the next food delivery, check the NY Times for a new twist on chicken and incorporate technology into daily life. Jane describes how important Zoom has become. It enables her to see family, visit with Trinity sisters and work out with a trainer. Jane also shares that she is fortunate to live with her daughter, Alicia and a granddaughter. Her son, Michael, and his family, including two more granddaughters, live close by so she is able to see them as well. In addition, a golden retriever puppy named Bailey has joined the brood. According to Jane, Bailey is an energetic handful who has brought the household a lot of joy! She is looking forward to this summer when the entire Dee family will get together on Long Beach Island.
Regina (Genie) Flahie announces that the impending arrival of her first grandchild is the only news worth reporting. But we know that if it were not for Genie’s faithful commitment to sending out the Weekly Reader, most of us would be totally out of the loop. As for the past year, Genie confesses “I’ve gotten older, less agile, blinder and hear less. I’m also less tolerant of old people, a trait that will not see me well in the coming years.” Hopefully, Genie will find a way to put up with the Old Golds.
Although Ginny Allen endured both the hassle of moving in December and the postponement of international trips, she notes how lucky she has been during the pandemic to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of long walks along the ocean. She is also grateful that her family has not been seriously impacted by the virus. In the plus column, Ginny relates that she DID accomplish one thing in 2020, but kind of by mistake. As a Boston Area Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, usually she volunteers at the Boston Marathon. When the pandemic forced the cancellation this year, Ginny received an email from the group suggesting she could participate by running, jogging, walking, etc. 26.2 miles in her local area. She had misread the email. It actually said 2.62 miles. Ladies, be careful when you read email on a mobile phone! Anyway, she did manage to complete the marathon,
Kathleen Courtney once again has led the west coast roundup providing updates on some of the “67 gals of the golden west. Keating Vogel and Palmer have moved to Santa Rosa which is a little north of San Francisco. Their first born, Emma, along with her husband and two small sons, recently arrived from their home in Singapore for a two month visit. In addition to loving to babysit her grandsons, Keating belongs to two book clubs, plays mahjong on Zoom and continues to run – no marathons this year. Perhaps, Keating should consult Ginny Allen before accepting any running challenges. Kathleen Zooms with Keating and four other ladies once a week for a chat and book club.
Kathleen and her husband John had dinner recently with Kathleen Lavin Mague, whose home base is in Wyoming. Kathleen was visiting her son Chris, his wife Reiko and her two grandsons in San Francisco. Alex (18) is heading off to Virginia Tech and Sean (13) is looking forward to returning to real school. She also plans to visit daughter Jenny and two more grandchildren in Boston. Kathleen is still in the labor force, cross country skiing, hiking and participating in two book clubs. She and her late husband Michael traveled all over the world and had numerous adventures, but she will probably be staying closer to home for a while.
Jane Bailey Braunger ex ’67 (Jane wrote the Gold song with Louise Smith) and husband John became first time grandparents less than a year ago when son Matt and his wife brought granddaughter Rose into the world. Although Jane and her husband live in Portland, they are planning visits to Los Angeles to enjoy time with baby Rose.
So finally, that leaves Kathleen Courtney and husband John Bardis who are both well. She was planning on selling her domain name (XDM), but picked up two new clients for various marketing projects and decided it is too much fun to stop. In addition, Kathleen chairs an economic round table and participates in a Greek women’s organization and community advocacy projects. She Zooms with Keating and four other ladies once a week for a chat and book club. But the news of the hour is that her stepson Tom informed his father that, on the cusp of his 92nd birthday, John Bardis will become a first time grandfather! That lucky little baby will have Kathleen as a fairy grandmother!
Moving to southern California, my former roommate, Mary Haggerty Korey claims that she has little news to report but admits that it was nice to be able to read and read and read. The only times she ventured out were to walk the dog, grocery shop, take her husband to doctor appointments, eventually attend church, and finally get the vaccine. To her chagrin, along with most of us, she gained a pound or two and seemed to be contributing less as a member of society. Hopefully that will now change as she has begun to volunteer again and, best of all, hug her children and grandchildren.
After two COVID shots, Mary Ann Hoeper Benavides waited a week and then set out in a tiny, pricey RV to drive to CA to see her son in LA. It took six days and five nights with outside activity pretty much limited to fueling the van while wearing gloves. Life at her retirement community has consisted mostly of being a hermit, but due to observance of guidelines and caution, there was not a single case of the virus among residents in independent living. Mary Ann has read a lot and enjoyed listening to classical music.
Martha Smith Butler writes that although she has not lost any family members, she has lost a few long time friends to COVID. Like most of us, Marty is grateful for what she does have. She has a backyard and garden to walk around in. Her daughter and grandchildren have been in her “bubble” and without them Marty doesn’t know what she would have done. Her son has had two business trips to Phoenix and, after quarantining, they have also been able to be together. She has enjoyed family Zoom calls and calls with friends. And puzzles and cards. If she has not forgotten how to kneel, Marty may try attending church in the not too distant future.
Kathleen Rockwell Lawrence writes that her family is healthy and she’s glad to have Andrew in her pod, where he’s been for the last 52 years. Still, the pod has had its moments this year. One member wants the other to double mask; to order out and avoid supermarkets; also to avoid the laundry room and city buses. Kathy spends many hours per week shopping, cooking, reading recipes, newspapers, novels. Also, bingeing on MSNBC and great series like The Nick and Call My Agent. She wishes she could see her little grandsons before they’re big–misses the pair of them so much she’s actually agreed to babysit once COVID lifts!
From Texas, Rosemary Scotti Foster reports that in January 2020, she and Perry were feted at a big celebration for their 50th wedding anniversary – and they said it would not last! One of their sons lives nearby and has six children; the oldest of whom, a girl has received a full basketball scholarship to Lubbock Christian University. Her other son, his wife and two children live near Dallas. So far Rosemary and Perry have not gotten COVID and were happy to get their shots. Luckily, they did not lose power during the recent “great freeze” in Texas. According to Scotti, they are blessed and doing well.
Carol Moss Ryan states that she is most grateful that her family has been spared the virus. During the pandemic she has taken to domestic pursuits and has resurrected a very old, circa 1940, sewing machine. She has made masks for family and friends. Her efforts have not been entirely altruistic; she needed a distraction from the refrigerator. She misses her kids and grandkids terribly; she is thankful for Zoom but can’t wait for hugs and kisses. She writes about her communication with Boodie Christian during her final days. Boodie hated texting on her flip phone (with an attached and somehow bejeweled stylus), but Carol had no other way to reach her. To the end Boodie was her brave and very elegant self, always using a salutation – Miss Moss or My Dear. A few hours before Boodie died, Carol received a wonderful “thanks”. Ever the communicator. RIP, our beloved friend. “
Pre-pandemic, there were plans for a big party to celebrate Mary McGee’s 75th birthday in December 2020. COVID appeared on the scene and her milestone was actually observed by enjoying take-out with her husband. In April 2021, they probably will mark 50 years of wedded bliss with another take-out meal since Toronto still has very strict lockdown regulations. Mary muses that in 1971 she would not have considered having a “good mate to weather a pandemic” as a prerequisite for marriage, now she knows that it is very important and she is grateful to have one. Vacation plans including a tour of Iceland and a train trip through the Canadian Rockies have been postponed. Although Mary has begun to tolerate the level of incompetence among politicians and bureaucrats, she has learned that everyone will be better off if each person follows public health guidelines and is co-operative, patient and kind.
In the same vein, Barbara Howerton, urges everyone to get inoculated ASAP, given the increased spread of variants! Her sister Katherine, who lives with Barbara, has chronic kidney disease (CKD) which has the highest risk for death from COVID-19 worldwide. Protecting ourselves is the best way to protect others.
Marianna Law Merritt shared her reflections on a year of “living virtually” The high points included more time with her grandson (9) who attended virtual school from her house, lots of time to enjoy her nine month old black lab puppy and some long walks getting to know nearby neighbors. Things she found surprising (and encouraging) were the resilience of kids as they masked up without complaint for sports and outside play and their enthusiastic participation in a virtual Sunday school class she co-taught. Marianna reports that a valuable takeaway from the year is that sports talks and sharing sports brackets can be a unifying and safe topic in an extended family separated by physical distance, political views and opinions on efficacy of vaccines. Nevertheless, Marianna looks forward to experiencing once again in the fall – large family gatherings, restaurant dining in and running with a group.
Sadly, the younger of two brothers of Yvonne Godoy Ramos died of a heart attack on Mardi Gras day – almost a year to the day of the beginning of the lockdown in NOLA. Yvonne, living at home in Baton Rouge, has now received both vaccines. Her daughter’s family, including granddaughter Alexandra, are in New Orleans. Yvonne has been reading a lot, bingeing on movies and communicating with FB and phone. She also continues to study Italian on her own after two years of regular classes at LSU.
Sharon Sullivan (on the left) and her family had a Christmas gathering, in a parking lot in NJ!
According to Sharon Volovski Sullivan, it has been an extremely difficult year: so many days of quarantine, separation from family, a life and a self hardly recognizable. Thankfully, despite the trials, there have been some good things which have happened. Sharon and her husband welcomed the arrival of their first grandchild, Kayleen Malaika Sullivan, on May 22. Although they enjoyed a few socially distanced gatherings, most visits with her precious granddaughter have been via Portal. As the world came screeching to a halt, Sharon was scheduled to begin a two-year apprenticeship program with the Guild for Spiritual Guidance. Instead of meeting in person, the apprentices began what has turned out to be a year of Zoom meetings. Difficult as it has been to create “community” totally on screen, the ten people in the program have bonded in a shared spiritual journey. Throughout the pandemic; through racial and political upheaval; through news of violent events and natural disasters, they have tried to be spiritual seekers. Because she lives next to a park, Sharon began to take photographs, mostly in nature, in order to document the passage of days. Recording the elapsing of time, she suddenly discovered the photographic art of Miksang and contemplative photography. What began as a survival strategy has become a passion and will likely be the subject of her final practicum for the Guild.
In the past year, Sue Numrich
has learned that she has great neighbors and dog walkers in her bedroom community and, thanks to COVID, she has gotten to know them. Not only has she met these folks, but Sue has been adopted by the family of a fifth grader who lives two doors away and fell in love with Sue’s rescue dog, Miles, a charming Shih Tzu. How can anyone resist his face? Obviously, Sue cannot. As the story goes, Sue went to her car dealer because of a warning light on her dash. There was an adoption event at the dealership and she came home with four new tires and one old Miles. Now Miles is not the only one who realizes how amazing Sue is! In March, Sue was the recipient of the “Meritorious Civilian Service Award”. With a citation and three medals, it was bestowed on her in recognition of her singular civilian service for the Army Science Board. This honor was followed shortly thereafter by another award. The company for which she works, the Institute for Defense Analyses, is known fondly as the quiet think tank. The President of this company proudly informed Sue that she had been chosen to receive the highest award the company grants for Excellence in Research.
With all humility Sue acknowledged, “I guess this is why I find it hard to retire. I get to work with great people, do work that is challenging and that sometimes goes all the way up the chain in the Department of Defense, and now I do it all from my kitchen table.” Kudos, Sue! Your golden sisters are so very proud of your work and extraordinary service to our great nation.
I would like to bring our COVID tales to an end by quoting Sharon Sullivan. “The return to normal seems actually nearly as overwhelming as the sudden onset of these events. Will we be different for all these experiences? Will we be better? Have we learned to live more simply, more justly, more reverently in this world? Can we live more peacefully with uncertainty? Have we learned to see the diaphanous beauty present in everyday life? What are we willing to do to guard and protect it? Indeed, it has been a year of learning to live with the questions! “
Love to all,
In lieu of Boo,
Ann Donnelly Malinowski
She wishes her classmates a healthy and prosperous post-COVID life ahead.