The key question for my generation was, "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?" In the future, it might be, "Where did you shelter in place?"
Memories help sustain us now as we live in the present yet also look forward to getting out again to enjoy the company and hugs of loved ones. I reminisce – and plan – with my grandchildren on Facetime: "Remember that day we went to the beach? Let's do that again soon."
As always during trying times, it is important to remember that this, too, shall pass and become but a memory. Today's youngsters will be talking in their dotage about the pandemic of 2020. Hopefully it will not turn into a hyphenated event, such as the pandemic of 2020-21.
I recall my own father, born in 1905, talking about the Depression and World War II. I wish I had asked him about the influenza pandemic of 1918.
As disruptive as these past two months have been, we will remember that we treasured what we had – sunshine and all that nature has to offer, music, books, virtual entertainment and, of course, family and friends, albeit via telephone and the internet. And the way neighbors watched after each other.
Graduation is a famous time for memories, and the class of 2020 will be able to say it was "virtually" the greatest class ever. And we must admit they outdid themselves with Senior Skip Day.
We will remember how we included caring phrases when corresponding, even with strangers or business associates, as we exhorted them to "stay safe, stay healthy, stay well." Newscasters ended their broadcasts the same.
We will remember rallying to support local businesses and learning that we can order books for pickup or delivery from independent bookstores as well as Amazon.
Families will remember the excitement of grocery deliveries – whether by a parent or Instacart. Yay! Popsicles! We also will remember weird substitutions (wheat flour for bread?) and what was gone from the shelves.
We will remember how we smiled as we put masks on our Easter bunny figurines and a mask was added to the bear on the California state flag. But parents will also solemnly recall choosing face masks for young ones, making sure they were comfortable and perhaps even fun.
We will remember sadness at all the things our children were missing, and the poignancy of how they coped. On the plus side, many families found more time to enjoy each other, with activities from movie times to nature walks to games of soccer.
People are documenting this strange time in their lives, using their cell phones to capture even the mundane. Some are hiring professional photographers, posing in their driveways.
Yes, 2020 was the year our driveways came into their own as venues for socially distant socializing as well as galleries for children's cheery sidewalk chalk art. Chalk. Now there's a simple thing that's come a long way since the '50s when I used a little white nub to draw hopscotch squares in front of my house. Right before we began to shelter, I bought a huge pack for the grandkids when I was picking up a few odds and ends. Who knew the hours of joy it would bring?
Some folks focus on the negative, and I am guessing this includes those who snatched up all the toilet paper and sanitizers when we first got wind of the virus. We can only muse that perhaps they may get their just due in an afterlife where they are denied certain items.
We will all have disturbing memories of fearing the disease for ourselves and our loved ones, as we can watch at www.worldometers.info as rates of illness and death rise before our very eyes. We may recall dark moments when we wondered who would take care of us if we were badly stricken. And our resolve to face whatever happens with strength, because what other choice did we have?
It is hard to imagine just how different the world will be a few years hence. We may remember this as the time when we began to realize which workers were really essential, and perhaps salaries will be adjusted accordingly.
Hopefully, we will look back at this time and say, "That was when the world began to change for the better."
Editor's note: Dolores Fox Ciardelli is Tri-Valley Life editor for the Pleasanton Weekly. Her column, "Valley Views," runs on the second and fourth Fridays of the month.