My parents were refugees and lived through war and severe food shortages. When my mother died we were cleaning out her frig and freezer. She had 10 frozen chickens, 3 legs of lamb and 2 ducks in her freezer! Most “Un -Australian”as the prime Minister would say! But she knew near starvation and never wanted her family to be hungry.
It’s 7.20am and I stumble down the stairs to greet the cool autumn morning. Befuddled, cold and disoriented I realise that I’ve slept in. Damn! I’m late for the 7am-8am pensioner shopping hour at the supermarket. It’s a 1 supermarket country town I live in. The next closest supermarket is 30-40 minutes drive away. I jump in the car and head into town. It’s important I can buy some provisions as tomorrow I see my 83 year old friend who lives with dementia. I want to take him some home cooked food and yes…. toilet paper.
The car windows steam up and the heater has just done its job when I arrive at the shops. There’s hardly any parking. What’s going on here? A reminder that I live in a town with a lot of retired people. At the door a friendly supermarket employee checks my pension card and I’m in a wonderland of half stocked shelves but lots of fresh fruit and veg and ….a few very large packs of toilet paper. A small group forms around the toilet paper. Some of us hold very large packs. Others are too late. Then the bartering begins. It’s so lovely. What about you have a few rolls out of this big pack? We’ll share once were through the check-out. I don”t need this much? The deal is done. Friends are shopping and sharing too. I’ve got minced beef and some beans. I’ll make a chilli con carne and drop some around to you…..
Yesterday I went to the supermarket at the end of the day. The shelves were devoid of meat, limp vegies looked at me soulfully, the bread stands were empty. A woman stood in the entry to the supermarket with a cleansing wipe vigorously cleaning the handle of the trolley. Large tears ran down her face as she stood frozen, intent on her cleaning task. I looked at her, hesitated…social distancing… 1.5 metres.. and then headed over.. Are you Ok? She sobbed. ” Yes I’m just tired… and I need cat food and I know they’ll be out at this time of day. I’m too late.” Let’s head over to the pet food area I suggest. Our little posse travels the aisles until we reach the empty shelves. We stare blankly at the shelves and each other. The tears flow down her cheek while she pretends restraint. Then a store employee comes up. Can I help? We told her the story and asked when the cat food would arrive. They went to the service desk and I headed towards the door. Seconds later I heard someone calling ” Hey excuse me.…. I turned to see the woman smiling and waving a tin of cat food…they’ll have some tomorrow. I’ll come early. Thanks for your help……
Human Kindness. Never in short supply.
I head home smiling and resume my normal morning routine. The smell of coffee, my bowl of muesli and blueberries and the wonderful ABC Classical Music program on the radio. Russell Torrance with his soft Scottish accent is just delightful. This morning he plays a song from Les Miserable…. The cat ducks under the table as I proudly stride around the kitchen singing… “Do you hear the people sing singing the song of angry men…” Invigorated. This will be a good day!
Then Russell Torrance and his co-host make a ground breaking decision… every morning at 7.45am wherever you are in the world we’ll have virtual choir. We’ll all sing or play our musical instruments to the rousing music that will be played at this time. From the safety of our homes we will sing together. Everyday at 7.45am. We’ll tell our neighbours, open our windows and doors, blast the roof off and we’ll SING! For family and friends not able to be with us we’ll make videos and send them. Yes! My new morning ritual…….!
I check my instagram and find this…
“Your grandparents were called to war. You’ve been called to sit on the couch. You can do this!”
Fantastic…yes! We’ll be Ok…………………. and just in case you doubt the human spirit remember those scenes in Italy with housebound singers on their balconies…….