This is the reprint of a guest column I wrote for the Village Chicago Newsletter on January 27, 2021
On February 29, 2020, I moved into a new phase of life. I was in a new relationship, moved to a new home in a new community, and started plans to retire after almost 40 years in medicine. March 20th, COVID-19 shut down the world. I was already working from home, but the lockdown meant I had to learn new ways to stay connected to family and friends, put my post-retirement plan into place, market my books, and be more vigilant about protecting the new relationship.
One blessing of aging is having lived long enough to develop wisdom and resilience. We can look back on years of handling change and hardship without failing and know we can do it again. I lived through my dad’s death just after I started med school, my mom’s Alzheimer’s disease, a miscarriage, a child with a life-threatening illness, divorce, dating at age 60, several job changes, and relocations, yet I’m still here! If none of those experiences broke me, what can? A mask? Having to stay in a home that I chose and decorated to comfort me? Buying groceries at a specific time? No! We “seasoned saints” are the same people who figured out how to handle other life crises with creativity and determination. It got us through then; it will get us through now.
My partner and I talk to our families more now than we ever did. Each holiday, I cooked for two days (as usual), delivered meals to family porches, and we Zoomed everybody all over the country. We even watched movies together (the kids talked me through the technology). I even set up a Facebook Portal for my 94-year-old Aunt Terri in Philadelphia and found kids there to talk her through the tech. It was different and often cumbersome but worth it.
We will get through this as long as we remember who we are. We have always dealt with the pain and uncertainty of change and prevailed. Younger people can learn from us as we smile, look around, and say, “Okay. What’s Plan B?”
Dr. Cheryl recently retired after over 35 years of teaching and practicing Geriatric Medicine. She spends her days being a grandmother, staying fit, taking voice and piano lessons, and writing books on caregiver survival, self-care, and believing in love. She is also a speaker and consultant who encourages people to [achieve effective transitions between health care settings and] LIVE OUT LOUD and AGE EXCELLENTLY! Follow her on Facebook and Instagram and visit www.drcherylwoodson.com