COVID-19 Oral Histories – Lynnette Arthur
For the past few weeks, Packer’s Upper School History Club has been working on an oral history project that documents the Packer community’s experience with COVID-19. Through 30 minute interviews with various people in the community, we have been recording people’s feelings, thoughts, and stories about this global pandemic. In addition to posting select parts of the interviews to the Prism website in both transcript and video form, we are also archiving these interviews at the Brooklyn Historical Society so that we can keep a visual and written record of these testimonies for the future generations. As for now, we hope this project is a way for people to stay connected and share their unique personal stories. Each week, new interviews will be posted, so keep coming back to learn more about your classmates’, teachers’, and colleagues’ experiences during this difficult and unusual time. We hope you enjoy!
-The Leaders of History Club: Sadie Sadler, Amelia Killackey, and Nick Yohn
Lynnette Arthur: Preschool Head Teacher and Preschool Diversity and Equity Coordinator
Interviewed by: Sadie Sadler
Q: How has your experience been quarantining alone?
A: Umm it was tough at first, it was, you know, well I think in the beginning, just the idea I think for me personally I didn’t know what this was going to be, um when we found out our schedules, you know I found out my day maybe didn’t have to start at 6 am anymore, you know maybe it would start at like 8 am or 9 am, and was really you know like okay, you know we always say ah, I would love to work from home, I would love to not have to wake up in the morning and take the train, and now, I would give anything to go back, […] so in the beginning, you know, it was a bit of a happy point like okay, maybe this could work, and then it was like no, this is not going to work. And then personally I live across the street from a hospital um I wasn’t necessarily able to get out of the city, you know, like so many people in our community have I know, but there are a lot of us who haven’t, and the same thing with my families, some, my student’s families some of them have been able to get out, some of them haven’t. Um, but living across the street from the hospital you see a lot. And so, like a week into this, they parked one of those freezer morgue trucks outside the window, like literally right outside the window; I had to um close my shades for a while a week or so um until they built a fence. But in that time, in that like almost 2 weeks that I was literally exposed to visually seeing what no civilian is really supposed to see, you know these are the things that people on the front line, um you know, are seeing every day, but we don’t really see it but watching, you know, body after body after body be brought out it really started to get to me. Um, but you know I really had to take some time, and you know to cry when I needed to cry, and feel overwhelmed when I needed to feel overwhelmed, and just sort of let those emotions come, and I think that that is is what sort of helped. And at one point, I remember at one point I was like I don’t know how I could be, how I am going to do this, like how I am going to see all this going outside my window, turn on my computer for a half an hour a day and smile and sing for these families like I don’t know if I could keep this up um, and luckily, um thank you like God, cause they build a wall, they built like an eight-foot wall so I am not seeing as much as I was, um but the trucks are still out there… at night you can hear the humming um and literally I’m seeing people drive up in their cars, pick up the bodies of their loved ones, put ‘em in the trunk of the cars, and drive away. Um, so visually it’s been challenging, it’s been challenging, like on a personal level. Um, I have a daughter in college, and she’s in Cali, but she’s doing fine, and so, you know, as long as she’s good, then I feel like, okay, I I can deal, I can get through this, um I’ll do what I need to do. Luckily, I have an amazing support system who I can call um if, I am feeling, you know, overwhelmed, or, you know, whatever
Q: What have you been doing to keep your spirits high?
A: I’ve been crocheting up a storm. Crocheting and knitting, um, up a storm. I’m like up to my third hat, um, cause I love hats since I keep my locks in my hat. Um, I’ve been doing a lot of yoga, I’ve been cooking, and I really did not sort of cook before this, like once my daughter went off to college, it was like, what is a stove? So, you know, now it sort of forced me back into doing certain things that I wouldn’t normally do a lot of the day …. Um, and I also play the guitar, so, just for myself, you know, not just for work, but singing and doing stuff like that, but trying to keep my spirits up, trying to still be um connected and involved, and you know, again, being in the city, it’s a little bit challenging cause, even going out for a walk is… a whole nother ball game….but, you know, there are members in our communities that they’re not necessarily in the city, and maybe they’re in the country or have land, and, you know, they’re still able to… go for a bike ride…or, you know, do certain things that, sort of, some of us are not able to do. So I think as my role in the diversity and equity piece of it is really sort of creating awareness of how people are experiencing this. And, and gratitude, being grateful for sort of what we do have. And, you know, that’s something that I’ve had to counsel on, you know, when, you know, stuff comes up, or complaints, or you know, it’s like look, some somebody has it worse, somebody is dealing with more, somebody is more sad, more anxious, more, you know, grieving…somebody is grieving….someone has lost a loved one. Like, and I think about all the things I have to be grateful for, so, you know, the stuff that is out of my control… it makes it a little bit better. And, I think that if we take away anything from this, it has to be that, that gratitude for what we have, for our resources, for our family, our community, our support system that checks in on us, people that want to see our faces, our students, um, yeah, so that has sort of gotten me through… that’s what will be gettin’ me through, you know, yeah.
See more of Ms. Arthur’s interview in the video below: