A New Perspective on the Pandemic

Practice Transformation Specialist Amy Porter looks at the COVID-19 pandemic through her grandmother's eyes.

Current events have had me thinking often of my grandparents, especially my grandmother, who will be 89-years-old this month. 

I have vivid childhood memories of stories she would share about her early life and young adulthood living in an economically challenged region of northwest Pennsylvania during the Great Depression. These stories were full of detailed examples of how her and my grandfather used the meager resources they had to provide for their family and share with their neighbors. I can most clearly recall her account of being outside in the brutal Lake Erie winters, digging through the snow in their orchard, hoping to find apples or pears on the ground so they would have something to eat. Times were very hard for them—likely in a way we will never fully understand—yet they lived to use those experiences to shape a better future.

It’s been quite a humbling experience to watch my grandmother approach COVID-19; in fact, she’s still just as resilient as ever. She lives by herself, drives a car, enjoys following the stock market in the newspaper, and sends fantastic text messages complete with emojis. She is healthy, witty, sharp, and rises to the challenge of each day with a fresh outlook and positive perspective.

She gets up every day, gets dressed and does her hair.

She paints.

She cooks.

She gardens.

She organizes her home.

And as the world responds in panic, she’s steady, drawing on the abundant wisdom and wealth of a life lived in good stewardship of her resources.

The impact of the virus continues to unfold and uncertainty constantly swirls around us. However, just like my grandparents so long ago, we’ve all been given a choice. We can become paralyzed with fear, or find freedom to pioneer fresh approaches in navigating our day-to-day life. 

As for me, if there’s anything I do with this time I have been given, I hope it includes activities that make me a little more like Grandma. May we all choose to build experiences during this season that we will be proud to share with generations to come.

(picture features Amy's grandmother, circa summer 1950)

5/4/2020 12:00:34 AM | 7 comments


Patty Austin
Amy I really enjoyed learning about your Grandmother. That generation has so many great stories to share when we just take the time to listen! Thank you for sharing her story with us, she sounds phenomenal !
5/12/2020 9:45:19 AM
Cindy Thumser
A beautiful, inspiring, and love-filled post. Thank you for sharing.
5/11/2020 8:25:22 AM
Crystal Welch
Thank you Amy for not only a glimpse into the life of your grandmother and family, but also for the thought provoking blog entry. Choosing fear or pioneering fresh approaches is a great point. I want to be like your Grandma if God allows me to make it to 89 years old! :)
5/5/2020 2:58:45 PM
Lisa G
Great Post! My son asks about the Spanish flu all the time! I wish my grandparents were around to ask!
5/5/2020 10:24:18 AM
Kelly Brooks
Great post! My grandparents, both deceased, would be over 100 by now, and I remember talking with my grandmother about the flu pandemic when she was a girl. She said it was very sad, that they lost many friends during that time. It was indeed a very different time and I am sure they took a very different approach. In our lifetimes, I can't say we've faced a significant societal hardship that compares to things our grandparents (and those before them) faced, from the flu pandemic to world wars to the Great Depression. I think there is much to be learned from their perspective and their resilience. Thank you for sharing.
5/4/2020 5:38:49 PM
Misty Kevech
Thanks Amy for sharing! My husband was just sharing stories over the weekend of his grandparents during the depression. They were immigrants and lived off the family farm. Times were tough but they just continued to work and make due. My husband was comparing and contrasting with the complaints today and the abundance of food resources (food banks, etc.). It is so true. I take a van of seniors to the drive through food bank and each person was blessed with a variety of food to supplement them. I also know from working with homeless shelters and ministries in Pittsburgh and New York City that there is an abundance of churches and missions that feed and make food available for people every day. We can help those in need during this time, but I really your comments Amy about being more like your Grandma. FYI - I did social distance and kept number of seniors in the vans limited and made everyone where face masks. TY again Amy!
5/4/2020 3:10:21 PM
Laurie Fink
Great post, Amy! It really does give us all a different perspective to think about. What we are going through right now is tough, but there have definitely been harder times faced by older generations of Americans. Your grandmother sound like a neat lady! She reminds me of my nana who was equally as spunky. :)
5/4/2020 11:39:43 AM
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