Text and photos by Rosalie Tirella
Now I’v just got oatmeal and orange sauce. Am I eating alphabetically these days? No, phonetically! And I am hungry! So I park my tastebuds in the discarded Bumblee can and eat. I grew up poor in Green Island. I know what I have to do to survive.
God, help me. I would prefer to be eating the my Water Street’s Widoff Bakery bulkies, slathered with soft butter, and planning a fun day with my two dogs! But this is the new reality, how things roll these days … days of death, days of a global pandemic, with no cures in sight. … Yet. We humans – all over the globe – are thrown back hundreds and hundreds of years, and we are left with the remedies our Neandethal ancestors were left with during killer epidemics: STAY AWAY FROM ME, Freddo! GO DIE QUIETLY, ALONE, IN YOUR OWN CAVE, Rita! And the strong drink water! Eat! Pray to the clay gods and the cave paintings painted in bloodroot.
During these COVID-19 Days/Daze this atheist prays her Hail Mary’s, not because I’ve found Jesus, but because they remind me of my late mom, who prayed her Hail Mary’s three or four times a day – in our Lafayette Street kitchen, in the morning before we little kids were up for breakfast, before I headed out to my beloved Lamartine Street School. “Ma” prayed on one of our rickety wooden kitchen chairs that she had pulled out from the green wooden (so ugly) kitchen table and placed in the middle of our kitchen where she faces the open window, and sunlight, and a picture of Jesus, hammered into the kitchen wall, a few inches above our icebox. She kneels on the kitchen chair, blesses herself and hangs onto the back of the kitchen chair for balance. It is her mother’s beatup paintining of The Virgin Mary she is whispering to. An heirloom in our slummy tenement. My late mother, in all her strength and moral beauty …
Rose’s mom, Cecelia, in downtown Worcester, circa 1961
… beams down her love and strength onto me these awful days of ventilators (not enough), old ladies sewing pretty, but useless, cloth face masks, youngish doctors dying in their hospitals as they save the HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS of moaning, begging, crying, sick patients – some of them waiting for help for 5 hours in their gurneys parked in the ER hallway – the docs leaving their little sons and daughters back home, waiting for them … orphans. Like me without Ma! But I was old when I lost her, and I enjoyed my childhood with her. Because of her.
Today, before I go grocery shopping and pick up other necessities, I eat crap and miss EVERYBODY! Even a nemesis or two. Or three. Or four or five.😢 Today, I recite, whispering over my dogs and my cup of black coffee, …
… my Hail Mary’s. For my enemies!… Hatred. Such a waste of LOVE, the lifeforce!
I cannot WAIT TO GO OUT DOORS TODAY! Who, knew, as Michael Moore says during one of his Rumble Podcast, that we humans are hardwired to be around our fellow humans! That we CRAVE PHYSICAL CONNECTION, the surging, dirty-faced masses! That we want to rub shoulders against ALL PEOPLE, the beautiful COVID 19 asymptomatic and beautiful symptomatic COVID 19 hoi polloi! So good to see you, my Woo friends! I know – cuz it happens every time – that as I take my large McDonalds coffee and quibble over napkins with the takeout girl in the window – my heart will swell with JOY! I am JUST SO FREAKIN’ HAPPY TO SEE HER! And those golden arches! And that prosaic stretch of Greenwood Street! And that gas station with my pal at the cash register! And the sky above! And maybe a seagull or two diving outa the clouds to pick up a stray Wendy’s french frie! Hooray!!! … Last week I saw a woman standing in the Burlington parking lot feeding scores of swooping seagulls hunks of bread from a big plastic garbage bag. She was smiling! HAPPY TO BE OUTDOORS TOO! TO SEE PEOPLE AND SEAGULLS IN ALL THEIR BIG BELLIED BEAUTY. Amen.
Today, as I get my $1 special McDs coffee, I will be so slaphappy ecstatic!!! HELLO, WORCESTER! HELLO, BEAUTUFUL ROUTE 20 STRIP MALL! I ADORE YOU! Every brick that needs repointing! Every door that needs sanitizing! … On to CVS … Every pothole that sends me and Jett and Lilac flying in my jalopy! I love you, too! My car is such a piece of crap!!! GOD LOVE IT!
Yesterday I was cruising Youtube, picking out songs for this post. I wanted the tunes to reflect these COVID 19 days: societal collapse, pain, anxiety, darkness, death. So I looked for the dark, devil lovin’ Stones …
… another tune:
… But I ended up being attracted to:
…and then finally choosing this song to encapsulate my feelings these days. Choosing Armstrong, our earth, our animals, love OVER DEATH. AS WE ALL DO! Because we are human. Because, despite these temporary hard times, we human beings and our planet earth will endure. We are BRILLIANT. ♥️: