What will your story be?

March 27, 2020


What will your story be for the Covid19 crisis? Family time. Story by: Leslie Anne Tarabella

During the Great Depression when jobs were scarce, my Granddaddy McKee applied to be a postal service employee, or in those days, what they simply called “the mailman.” By the standards of his day, he was considered “unhealthy” because according to the government’s official guidelines, he was four pounds underweight. Never to be deterred, Granddaddy showed the family trait of “self-determination” — often mistaken as “stubbornness” and on his way to the exam, choked down four or five pounds of bananas. He got the job and thus secured another good family story of perseverance in the face of doom and gloom.

What will your story be for the Covid19 crisis? Family time. Story by: Leslie Anne Tarabella

The coronavirus pandemic is going to be our time to write the story for future generations. Will they say, “my parents were scared to death and my mom fell apart,” or will they tell their children how we worked like crazy to hold our families together while we found peace and strength through faith?

Little eyes are watching and remembering. They are completing the pages of their own story to tell generations yet to come. Who was the restaurant owner who gave them a free lunch when their mom lost her job at the hotel? Who was the teacher who called each student to make sure they were OK? Who was the neighbor who left books and games on their doorstep?

Although different in many ways, both The Great Depression and the current pandemic share elements of shaping the confidence and story of the children who will remember being at home with no school schedules and watching their parents remain home with no work. Do we want them to remember how organized, fun and strong we were, or will they someday tell their children how their home functioned under a cloud of dread?

What will your story be for the Covid19 crisis? Family time. Story by: Leslie Anne Tarabella

When the virus clears and a cure is found, how will we pull each other out of economic distress? Will we show compassion to those who are weak; the children, the grieving and the damaged business owners? Rebuilding brings new opportunities and it isn’t so bad when we help one another. The children, not only in our families but throughout the entire community, will be watching for signs of kindness and strength. They will remember the helpers.

What will your story be for the Covid19 crisis? Family time. Story by: Leslie Anne Tarabella

From preschoolers who hear everything to those in college who want to discuss everything, they need to be able to sleep in peaceful confidence as we protect them with a blanket of hope.

Providing for his new wife and planning ahead for future children was my grandfather’s goal which made his sacrifice bearable. When he walked three miles into town, sorted the mail, then walked his entire route before walking home again, it was the price of doing the right thing. The bunch of bananas he forced himself to eat before the exam was only the start of his dogged determination to provide for his yet-to-be family of the future. And now, his story is my story that I tell my children. It’s a story of how my grandfather took care of me before he ever knew me. 

What will your story be?

This story first appeared on AL.com and in the Mobile Press REsiger, Birmingham News and Huntsville Times.

  • Maria Rosso says:

    Your stories always strike a cord with me. My father also used the banana trick. In 1942 he was determined to get off of the dairy farm his father owned in Grand Bay and join the Coast Guard. Being underweight, like your grandfather, he ate bananas until he gained the few pounds needed to pass the physical. He went on to become one of the first USCG’s Search and Rescue helicopter pilots.

    • Leslie Anne Tarabella says:

      Now that’s a GREAT banana story! What was the “sin-of-thin” back then? Thanks Maria.

  • Wonderful story! All that walking kept him healthy, too. When I look at photographs of people during the Great Depression – none of them are overweight. Hmmm…?

    I’m thankful I grew up with parents who had strong work ethics and made sure we did, too. They’re in their mid-80s and still going strong and doing everything for themselves and helping others! I think that’s why they’re not languishing in a old-age home like thousands of their peers.

    Remember images of cabbage lines in Communist Soviet Union?

    Independence + Self-Reliance = Pillars of America (at one time) — I hope we get back to that and don’t put our trust in the government to look out for us!

    • I should have known you’d have excellent insight on this topic, my hard working friend! Take care.

  • Way back in WWII days I made money by selling and delivering comic books to friends. Although I don’t recall the aviator’s name, one of our first Ace’s was too light to be accepted into the Army Air Corps (or maybe it was the Navy). So, like your grandfather, he filled up on bananas, then showed up for his physical and was accepted!

    • Bananas to the rescue! The episode of Andy Griffith had Barney using an extra huge and heavy chain beneath his shirt to hold his whistle. Funny how now, being slim is correctly seen as healthy. What we didn’t know then . . . And I like your comic book business plan. Brilliant!

  • janeinbama says:

    What a great perspective to share. My maternal grandfather was a firefighter in Jacksonville, FL during the depression. I recall my grandmother talking about sharing food with people who would knock on their door. We are all in this one world together. I do pray we start acting like it.

    • That’s so true! Sharing a meal or having something on hand to share with people was a common thing. We need to keep that spirit! Thanks for the comment.

  • The greatest generation did what they had to, without grumbling and complaining. I have decided to control my viewing of the news, it just makes me unsettled. Not having 24/7 media was a good thing for the generations who came before us. Thank you for the inspiration on this Sunday afternoon. Stay healthy!

    • Thanks Pam. I’m a news junkie, but even I have to draw the line and turn it off after a while. Great point about the greatest generation not hovering round the constant stream of information. Happy and peaceful Sunday to you as well.

  • Patty McDonald says:

    My dad was 19 and in the British army for WWII. He was captured at Dunkirk and held in German prison camps for 4 years! His ankle and jaw were broken. My mom grew up in Belgium. Granny was 57 when war broke out and she worked with the Belgium underground to hide British and American soldiers. Belgium was under German occupation. Things were beyond tough for them. I figure we can quarantine for as long as it takes. Our son and DIL moved in with us in Jan. to save for a house. They have essential jobs so thankfully still working. My 76 yo hubby shops once a week (with mask, gloves, and sanitizer). I cook and clean A LOT!!! We try to joke as much as possible and keep spirits light. The kids are so pleasant and easy to get along with. We have a rental that we depend on for part of retirement money. If tentents are laid off, we plan to cut the rent in half. That will cover our expenses on the place and hopefully they will remain in the house. Regardless, we will work with them. It is our responsibility to help one another and all sacrifice.

    • You have a kind heart and a history of strength. I think blended families may be tough on one hand, but wonderful in times of trouble. Thanks for the comment!

  • That made get a little teary. In the last few weeks I’ve wondered what my parents would have thought about this current situation. I think they would be embarrassed for the country that politics and vitriol seem to be overshadowing the stories of decency and sacrifice. I’ve actually stopped looking at my FB because “friends” are so nasty.

    • I’ve unfriended several “friends” this week because I think this Covid situation has made me less tolerant of toxic angry people who just want to complain about everything. I don’t think our parents or grandparents would have made it through tough times by being negative. Hang in there, Roxanne!

  • When I was a child and young adult, I would question my parents about their childhood. My father’s stories were often flavored with wishful thinking but mom’s were realistic and often painful. She lost her mother when she was twelve and she and her siblings were raised by their father, an immigrant from Sweden. Even though they were raised on a small farm, food was not plentiful and money was in short supply. The depression hit hard on both sides of the family and my paternal grandfather lost his farm. How amazed they would be if they could see the lifestyles of their descendents. They sacrificed so much to survive in this new country and they did it so their children’s children would have a better life.

    • Sacrifice was great back then, and somehow, people now still can’t get it through their heads to just stay home and watch TV for a few weeks. People a few generations ago weren’t selfish. They thought of others and knew by heart, “do unto others as you’d have done to you.” Aren’t we grateful still today for their struggles and strength? Thanks Karen.

  • Dear gussie, no! I don’t want future generations to think I was naive enough to fall for all the hype. I’m going to journal about topics of substance like the three-legged reindeer I discovered in a rubish heap on the side of the road today. I took Rudolph home to my three-legged cat!

    • In times of stress, writers write, so I’m not surprised you are journaling. I am surprised my princess friend tip-toed through a rubbish heap, and I’m tickled you called it “rubbish” and not common “trash!” Hype is definitely out there and I’m glad you have a mind for reality. But still . . . carry Lysol with you on your rubbish romps.

  • Harriet Outlaw says:

    Oh, my. You have given the world just what we need to hear! Inspirational with every word. Thank you.

    • Thank you Harriet. Miss you madly and hope you are doing well. So glad to hear from you.

  • Well said! It will be an opportunity for us to do what Jesus commanded us to do which is love our neighbors. I do pray it brings out the best in us.

    • I’m guessing the best and the worst in people will surface. A pastor friend said faith can be spread as fast as a virus, so it’s up to us to help spread the good faith to others so the best will shine through whenever possible. Thanks Sandy. Stay well.

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