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As a property manager, I look after beach properties for part-time owners. I received a text from an alarmed Atlanta client, saying that security encountered a strange individual who claimed he paid $2,400 to someone on Craig’s List to rent his home. Police were called and the dude claimed he drove from Michigan to Florida to move in.
He gave two numbers of the person who “rented” the property to the police, both of which were disconnected; clearly a scam. My client was alarmed that the person claimed that he entered into this agreement with someone who had the same last name as the owner, a very unusual last name. They also had a private gate code. So scammers are well at work during the worst worldwide event since World War II – why take a day off?
I’ve checked in with neighbors. It’s March and overly warm here in the Florida Panhandle. While watering my garden, my next-door neighbor received a beautiful bouquet from a delivery van. I hollered at the woman, who staggered to the front door with the huge, heavy vase.
I yelled,” Wow! That’s the biggest bouquet I’ve ever seen!”
“Yes – isn’t it lovely! Is she home?” she asked.
“No, she’s working – I’ll text her!”
I wished my neighbor a Happy Birthday, and told her mine was this past Sunday. We exchanged cake and balloon emojis. I was happy to see a company in business delivering flowers. Another neighbor says son home from college and bored. I told him to tell him to paint the house. My other neighbor is clergy at Sacred Heart Hospital and he said they are “maintaining.”
A text from the local Episcopal Church said they are trying to keep employees on the payroll, the secretary, the child care administrator, and others. The pastor, based on info he’s received, says it may be July before services are resumed. He says some churches and small businesses may not survive and close permanently. He is asking that church members continue to tithe or give a donation to keep their employees and their families going.
My hands are dry from so much washing and scrubbing. I’m limiting news access to reduce stress. Tonight they said locals are sewing face masks for those in need, restaurants are now delivering, police are patrolling beaches and towns – spring break and our tourist economy in the dumper. Trump and some governors are hoping for a quick rebound, an easing of social restrictions to get people back to work. I get it, but I will make my own decisions if it’s safe or not. The number of ill and deceased are doubling every two days. My husband got congestion, coughing and hoarseness – a trip to emergency care secured antibiotics, a sinus infection, and he’s getting better – we’re both still working.
Each day I wake up to the sound of birds. Our four-legged, furry alarm clock is ready to pay them a visit and all seems normal, until I stop and think about the virus. Fragmented thoughts occupy my daily consciousness and dreams. Is this virus from China a wake-up call? What and who is important? I baby my emerging fig, blueberry bush, and potted blackberry with compost and fertilizer this spring. I bought two tomatoes, two strawberry plants, and a banana pepper. I cheaped out and skipped the squash plant, only to find my seed stash was woefully out of date. I went to the Burpee site and everything is sold out. I did secure some squash seeds and some spinach for Fall. I have a prepper mind. My husband always said we have too much toilet paper … not anymore.
I love Italians and Italy. I think about the Vatican, and Robert Moynihan, the editor of Inside The Vatican, who updates the faithful on these extraordinary spiritual times that we are living through. This magazine and The Moynihan Newsletters are an inspiration. There’s been no word from Italy; his site only posting the Pope’s virtual masses. Rome is closed. I think about Italy because Italians are all about family – La Familia. They live large and long lives, which is why the death rate has been so high there. I read my Giada DeLaurentiis cookbook called “Giada’s Italy – My Recipes for La Dolce Vita.” Recipes handed down for generations, scenery of fresh food stalls, cafes, her family gatherings for meals and shopping together, the towering steeples of the city. Food is a gift to be shared. In Giada’s book, there’s a picture of her daughter, her mom, and her – three generations, together.
I follow an old friend from high school on Facebook. Her daughter was married last year – a Jewish/Italian wedding. She spent months baking and freezing cookies for the Italian cookie table at the wedding. Grandma’s pasta and meatballs were the featured meal when they celebrated the engagement with the groom’s family. Two out-of-wedlock children were born into this large, extended family over the last two years. Abortion unthinkable – clear a room, create a nursery, surround and nurture this new, little life. The two little toddlers are now the joy of this gregarious, imperfect, and loving family who have overcome loss, death, and the challenges of a full life.
On my friend’s Facebook page, there’s a picture of her daughter, her mom and her, three generations, together and they are all three, gorgeous. In Frances Mayes’ book, “Under The Tuscan Sun”, she describes seeing three generations of women strolling down an Italian street as follows:
By late afternoon, we’re sitting again with our espresso, this time facing the other piazza. A woman of about sixty with her daughter and the teenage granddaughter pass by us, strolling, their arms linked, the sun on their vibrant faces. The three women look peaceful, proud, impressively pleased. There should be a gold coin with their faces on it.
I think about Italy because it’s the seat of the Christian faith, along with Jerusalem. Churches are closed and mass is offered online everywhere. I can’t help but think the devil’s hands are in this insidious virus that has stopped the world. But it’s backfiring. Families are re-evaluating, political parties are joining hands to rescue its citizens, floating military hospitals are stationed to care for the sick, the private sector is joining forces to create needed supplies, scientists across the world are sharing data at lightning speed to come up with a cure. One virus has created a different world in a matter of a couple of months on so many levels. It’s back to basics – la Familia.Published in