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We will all need to adapt to and embrace a new normalcy. This transition requires time and will not be a simple nor easy process.

"Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering it will be happier."

Aren't we all wishing this quote from Alfred Lord Tennyson holds true in this year of 2021. I, like everyone I know, was more than happy to start a fresh new year. I also like another quote from Tennyson:

"Ring out the old, ring in the new. Ring happy bells across the snow. The year is going, let him go. Ring out the false, ring in the true."

Perhaps Tennyson, like us, had also been through a bad year when he came up with these gems as they do express the feelings for the one we've just experienced.

I was re-reading my 2020 Christmas cards and letters, and noted most began with "The year started off well…" And so did mine. My calendar was filled with events and activities I enjoy here at Mary's Woods and other happenings with family, church and friends. In February I became a great-grandmother to a delightful young girl adopted by my grandson and his wife. I traveled with my daughter and son-in-law to Seattle to witness the official adoption and enjoyed this celebratory event.

Then came March and life as we knew it was abruptly halted with COVID bringing chaos to the entire world. As if this wasn't enough, in September the wildfires came blazingly close causing preparations for evacuation and endless smoky days. It was an unforgettable year in the worst of ways.

Lately I've been reading articles by various people trying to find a glimmer of a silver lining in the life-changing events we've been experiencing. Surely they must have taught us something ... some ray of light showing that we can be resilient and capable of adapting to unknown and uncertain conditions. I am aware of this daily here at Mary's Woods. While this is not the life we signed up for to enjoy our retirement, and the loss of personal interaction has taken its toll, most of my fellow residents have met the challenges in creative ways within the stay-safe restrictions. Having lived through other unprecedented events in our lifetimes may account for remaining hopeful and optimistic.

For people of all ages, the pandemic has provided a "gift of time" resulting in major house cleanings and the ridding of excessive possessions. There has been renewed interest in gardening, yard and house maintenance, baking and food preparation, sewing and crafts and various hobbies. Books have been read, puzzles assembled and unfinished projects completed. With school closings there has been more family time and togetherness (which in some circumstances may or may not be considered a gift).

As for returning to the normal as we knew it, I don't believe that will happen. I feel the world is evolving into a new normal, a different way of thinking and doing things. It's already a given that certain people will continue working from home; there will be more health care via telemedicine; meetings and social gatherings will have new formats or be virtual; shopping online has proven to be time-saving and easier than going to the mall or grocery store; church services and movies can be watched at home … the list goes on.

We will all need to adapt to and embrace a new normalcy. This transition requires time and will not be a simple nor easy process. COVID continues to run rampant and disrupt our well being, our nation needs to recover from political chaos and violence, environmental issues need solving. As we progress in reshaping our future, may patience, kindness and peace prevail.

In the words of Alexander Dumas, "all human wisdom is summed up in two words: wait and hope." In this extraordinary time with a new beginning on the horizon, that is what I will be doing — waiting, hoping ... and praying.

Jo Ann Parsons is a member of the Jottings Group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.


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