Community Spirit

 

(There was rain, beautiful rain)

I want to tell you a story about something that happened before I started writing about the new normal journey. The day after Eilish arrived in Greystones, Denis began feeling unwell. He rang the doctor and spoke to the receptionist who explained the procedure. He went on to the HSE (Irish health service) website to fill in a form for a test and then he went into self-isolation in our bedroom. I moved into the box room and we all lived happily ever after…

(The rain fell on the farmyard manure)

The next day I got up early to go to the supermarket. I wanted to do the shopping at a time when it would be quiet but when I got a text message from my sister-in-law, Helen, wishing me a happy St. Patrick’s Day I realised… it was St. Patrick’s Day. The supermarket wouldn’t be open early. Something cracked inside and I realised there were some things from now on that I couldn’t control and shopping in a quiet supermarket was one of them. Later that day I looked at the click and collect options and I booked a slot for the following week. Ok, I can do this, I’ll go to the supermarket early tomorrow instead but in the meantime I know we will have food next week no matter what.

(And it fell on the wire that will hold up the climbers)

Next morning, I delivered Denis’ breakfast and got dressed up to go to the supermarket. I hadn’t realised I was so tense, after all it’s just a supermarket trip, what’s so scary? When I opened the front door there was a leaflet on the porch floor.

(The leaflet, I’ve covered the personal details)

It read,
If you are self-isolating, I can help. My name is Orla… I’m part of a local volunteer network and live in…. My phone number is…
There was a list of things she could help with including talking on the phone. There were phone numbers for the HSE and Alone (charity for older people) and there were guidelines about the virus. At the bottom of the note there was a note saying how she and her neighbour had used hand sanitiser before preparing the leaflets and how they had used it again between visiting each house.

(Sun came out and painting moved to the fence)

I don’t know Orla but in that moment I loved her. I’d never heard of a local volunteer group. Did someone see the same news reports as me and instead of getting anxious, got organised? Orla was somewhere out there with kindness in her heart and a bundle of notes under her arm and if she was doing that then I could do this. I could be organised too.

(One down only 12 more to go…)

I got the groceries, it was very quiet in the supermarket. I went to the chemist, there was a small queue. All was well. Later that day I sent Orla a text to thank her, she said it was happening all over Greystones. She said she lived on the next green to me. I said I was really grateful for her note and we were fine for food but if there was anything I could do to please let me know. I made her a card and when I took Sadie for a walk I posted it in her post box. First, I laminated it and wiped it down with hard sanitiser.

(One and a half done… more to do)

While I was delivering the card I noticed there were children in Orla’s house (no I was not staking out her house…) Can you imagine the stories those children will tell their grandchildren about this time? They will say that their mother printed and cut up leaflets for nearly two hundred houses and that she sanitised her hands every time she popped one in a letter box. That she walked to every one of those houses letting people know they were not alone. That she went to the supermarket for her neighbours who couldn’t. That she chatted on the phone to strangers, reassuring them. I can imagine memories like that having the ability to sustain communities long after this is over. There’s a bigger prize than normality waiting for us on the other side of this.

May you be well, Mairead.

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