This day… Karine about her grandmother’s word

What is going on at the moment, and how do we deal with all the changes? In this blog, someone from the Flow team shares how she is dealing with the current situation: both on a practical level and in her head. This time: Karin (freelance journalist) tells us about her grandmother’s word.

When I was an adolescent, my grandmother suffered a major cerebral hemorrhage. Many of her bodily functions failed; many fortunately recovered. Except for one major one. Her speech. My grandmother had aphasia and not in a moderate way. All of a sudden, the woman who was so passionate about small talk didn’t even have a handful of words at her disposal. And there was one word in particular that arouse often in her confused brain: ‘orderly’.

As a teenager I thought that was the saddest thing for my grandmother: to have so few words left, and the most frequent one that came to mind was such a prissy word! A word for prigs, for straitlaced people, for stuffy souls. As far as I was concerned, she at least deserved to have a strong swear word in her limited vocabulary, but no: it was, and remained, ‘orderly’.

I have been thinking about her this past week. And about her word. In a week that has been dominated by news about the COVID-19 virus, about deaths, about Italy, about hoarding, about social distancing, about congested roads to the beach and about crowds in the hardware store.

These are weird times. I don’t know about you, but my mood changes quite a bit, sometimes from minute to minute. From resignation to fear, from anger to frustration, from sorrow to desire. I want to do something to help, but I don’t know what. The best I can do is keep in touch with loved ones and send cards. And stay indoors. Furthermore, I can’t contribute that much.

I’m currently reading a book by Dutch historian, author and journalist Rutger Bregman, called De meeste mensen deugen and it’s a comforting bit of literature. Because between all the changing moods, my key question remains. And it’s this: How will we respond when fear and misery prevail? Will we be able to remain civilized and will we abide by the rules?

And above all: How am I going to react? Will I stay brave? Will I stay strong? Will I maintain my sense of humor? Will I share honestly? Will I still be able to support others? I hope so. All of a sudden, I want nothing more than to be–and to remain–my grandmother’s word.

Text Karine Hoenderdos  Translation Julia Gorodecky  Photography Aaron Burden/