Rediscovering family and self

May 10, 2021 - 12:00am -- Living City

Rediscovering family and self

Two young adults on the effects of Covid-19 and lockdown

Perhaps the most challenging part of the pandemic this year was dealing with the anxiety of getting Covid or passing it on to my family. Los Angeles was hit hard, and we had to take the pandemic seriously. I felt as though I instantly became a mother to everyone at home, checking on how my mom and dad did the groceries, how together with my sisters we were all following the CDC recommendations, etc. We were careful to look for any first sign of symptoms and kept abreast with the news. 

When I heard that my grandmother was going to move in with us, I immediately knew that it would mean the end of any outside social engagement. In fact, when my friends asked me to go out, I started telling them that I couldn’t. For months, I literally lived in a bubble. I couldn’t travel, visit people, or do the regular things I used to do in the city.

Some didn’t understand this change of lifestyle, but I knew it was a sacrifice I had to make — especially out of love for my grandmother. I just could not bear the risk of passing on to her the virus. Once she came down with a high fever, and we rushed her to the ER. Thank God it wasn’t Covid, but in that moment, I realized how much she means to me.

Since my dad is Italian and my mom is Filipina, I feel that this period has brought me closer to my Filipina heritage. Until then, I had been more in tune with the Italian side of my family and its culture and language. Having my mom’s mother with us gave me the opportunity to hear more of her stories, such as surviving as a little girl during World War II, when Japan briefly occupied the Philippines. Through her, I learned so much about my own history. It was inspiring to hear how much she had gone through.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I myself was furloughed from work for a couple of months. There was so much uncertainty about the future. I had many plans that lay by the wayside, like moving to my own apartment and moving up in my job in e-commerce in the fashion industry. 

I was asking myself, “How long will this situation last? What will my future look like?” What helped me get through all the questions was the love of my family and friends. We all grew closer as a family simply because we were spending more time together and in ways we would not have before Covid.

Now things are getting better. My work is picking up, and I even recently managed to move to my own apartment with my sister. 

While I understand that not everyone had the same opportunities that I had, I would still say to any young person out there struggling that it is so crucial to continue to look for any silver lining in all of this and to keep setting little personal goals. There really is something positive out there; it may be tiny, hard to find, but it’s there. 

I see now that everything happened for a reason and that God’s timing is different from ours.

Cristina Gregoris, California

Dad and Covid

During March of last year, we were in the middle of spring break at Xavier University when we got an email from the president, saying that spring break was extended for two more weeks. Three days later we were told to move out of our apartments and dorms. Everything was going to be remote for the rest of the semester. We didn’t know then that those two weeks to stop the spread would turn into God knows how long. So, I packed everything, moved out, and drove back home with my parents, who came to get me. 

I wasn’t particularly scared, because I had heard that younger people with no pre-existing conditions weren’t really at a high risk. I think the weird part was coming back home to my parents’ place, because I hadn’t spent a lot of time there over the past two years. I was used to having my own privacy, or being able to go to places, but at my parents’ place I had to spend most of my time in a smaller space.  

Eventually, things started getting better as we each found our way to live with the lockdown. My mom soon realized that we had to get better Wi-Fi for my brother and me to attend school.

One day we started worrying about my dad; one of his coworkers had tested positive. My dad was asymptomatic, but to be on the safe side, he was quarantined in the master bedroom, while my mom slept on the couch downstairs. 

About a week later, he started showing symptoms of fever and more fatigue than usual. His first test came back negative. Then he went back and got another one. A couple of days later, I remember him standing in the hallway with the phone. I heard the speaker say: “Yes, sir. You’ve tested positive for Covid-19.”

My dad immediately asked me to clean up everything he touched, from the TV remote to the keyboard ... everything. Someone had to bring him food and take his plate. My mom did most of it, while I did it more for lunch. After he was healthy again, we cleaned the entire room and washed the bedsheets. 

During that time, I wasn’t worried about myself. I was just mostly supporting my mom, who felt the most stressed, and I was a little worried about my brother, who was in my dad’s room all the time because of the computer there. 

My grandmother, who’s in her seventies, was also living with us, and so my mom said, “We’re not doing anything. We’re not going anywhere.” That’s what I did, out of love for my family. I left the house just once — to go with my dad to pick up a rental car. The only other time was to cut the grass here and there, especially when dad was sick. 

Now that all the professors at my university had to go through Zoom training over the summer, they’re a lot better at it. We are also back in person; we’re required to wear masks and social distance in the classrooms and wipe down everything that we’ve used. It’s easy enough for me to wear a mask during class. 

While people still go out to parties without a mask on, I mostly hang out with those I know. Some just tend to relax the quarantining rules, but I follow all the protocol, because I want to protect myself and others that are around me. It has been a learning process  for everyone.

David Ongkiko, Illinois