Hard Lessons, Hopeful Thoughts

Seniors look back on a difficult year, and hope for the new one

Since SOWN is an organization that creates spaces for older adults to process their thoughts and emotions, we can’t pass up the opportunity for a moment of reflection. Allowing ourselves a few minutes to check in with our feelings about our experiences, the people we care about, or even humanity as a whole can help us feel centered as we think about what we want for the future.

Sometimes reflecting is uncomfortable, but it gives us a chance to own our feelings. As we begin 2022, SOWN staff and participants took some time to process our thoughts on 2021 and name our hopes for the new year. We hope that you’ll permit yourself a moment to do the same.

SOWN staff

Arlene Segal, Coordinator for Philly Families Connect
2021 Reflections: I am so grateful for the vaccine and the millions of lives saved because of the science. I am grateful for the incredibly brave people who risk their lives to save others. I am indebted to those officials who stood tall and challenged the barrage of insults and disinformation.

Hope for 2022: I hope that today’s children will grow up in a world filled with respect and consideration for others. That their world will be green with the growth of verdant forests. That they can run outside, laugh and see the butterflies overhead, and that bellies and hearts are full.

Debby Davis, Social Worker
2021 Reflections: I was thrilled when the vaccine became widely available including 5-year-old children, but dismayed at the number of unvaccinated people. The extra stress from the pandemic is exhausting, but I truly appreciate the good. This includes a beautiful day in the park, a good meal, seeing my friends and good book or tv series.

Hope for 2022:  I hope 2022 brings the end of the pandemic, but I consider that unlikely. I look forward to continued work at SOWN, and enjoying life’s small pleasures as much as possible.

Lori Latimer, Director of Programs
2021 Reflections: I felt like our country grew even more divided this year. It’s pretty anxiety-producing and depressing. However, I got to spend a lot of time with my husband and our fuzzy little creatures in a way that we haven’t had the chance to do before. It’s been both very comforting and very fun.

Hope for 2022: I hope that as a country, we can move towards some sense of unity and feel assured that we all have each other’s backs. For me personally, I’ve been recovering from minor spine surgery and all I can think about is competing in judo again in 2022. That’s my little self-centered hope!

SOWN Participants

2021 Reflection: I was hospitalized for COVID and it was very scary. But, thank God, it could have been worse. I am still confused, upset and nervous.

Hope for 2022: I hope that next year everything will be back to normal. But, I still ask myself, where are we going? What will be happening next year?

2021 Reflection: This country is in a very dark place, but I try to find something good and stay optimistic.

Hope for 2022: Next year, I hope we can come together and do things in a different way. I am really thinking of the violence that is all around us. I think of other people and I know they want the same things for their families that I want for mine.

2021 Reflection: Last year we got the vaccine, so that gives me hope.

Hope for 2022: Now, teens can get vaccinated, so 2022 should be safer. I am just praying that things go back to normal–no more masks, no more social distancing–just normal life. It seems so long ago. I am praying for everyone.

2021 Reflection: 2021 was really scary. COVID, guns, violence all around.

Hope for 2022: I am hopeful about 2022, but we have to do things differently. The Mayor has to do more about getting the guns off the street.

2021 Reflection: Yesterday is history; tomorrow is the future; all we have is today.

Hope for 2022: At 84, I still get around and have my mind. I just want to stay healthy and take care of my family

2021 Reflection: 2021 was a very difficult year for me and my granddaughter.

Hope for 2022: I don’t know how I feel about 2022.

2021 Reflection: In 2021, I was finally able to get my granddaughter the proper classification so she could learn better. But, because she just turned 18, we lost services. So I have to start over.

Hope for 2022: I am optimistic about 2022, but I am still afraid. This new variant is very scary and the symptoms are confusing. Do I have a cold or do I have the virus? I’ve lived through a lot and I’m still here. I have to stay strong for my grandchildren.

2021 Reflection: I have mixed feelings. COVID and the violence in my neighborhood frightens me, but my grandchildren are growing up and doing well. We have all stayed healthy and I want to keep it that way.

Hope for 2022: Next year, I want them, and me, to be safe and healthy.

2021 Reflection: The virus is really scary, but what bothers me the most is the difference in the way Blacks and Whites are treated. I travelled to Morocco this past year. I was treated with respect and I walked around at night without feeling afraid. I wish it were like that in this country.

Hope for 2022: In 2022, I will just leave it up to God.

2021 Reflection: I thought everything would be better by now. I don’t know what to do. I’m invited to a family holiday party and not everyone is vaccinated. I’m afraid I might get sick and I am afraid for my granddaughter… I’m just sick of all this.

Hope for 2022:  For next year, I just want things to be back to normal. I want to be around people and laugh and joke like we used to.

2021 Reflection: Life is like a merry-go-round. Sometimes you’re up; sometimes you’re down. We can’t level off. It’s heartbreaking.

Hope for 2022: In 2022, I want it to like when I was growing up. We got our shots and nobody questioned it. We just did it. Sometimes you can’t give people a choice.

2021 Reflection: Sometimes I feel like I live in the valley of the shadow of death. This past week, a wounded boy was dumped in the middle of my street. This was really upsetting to me. Flooded me with so many memories of the death of my daughter and the murder of my granddaughter. Just surviving this year is a bonus. The virus knocked everyone off their square, but there was lots of growth. We had to be careful, watchful. All of us grew stronger. I asked myself, what are my options?

(Note: the young man was taken to the hospital and survived)

Hope for 2022: In 2022, I hope I can see my son who was released from prison in Hawaii. He has a job and is doing well. I hope my family, and everyone, can be secure in the place they are living. To quote Sister Mary at Project Home, “Noo one is home until everyone has a home.”

 Ms. X

2021 Reflection: I was amazed by how resilient we are as a country. It’s like Great Depression, going through all of this.

Hope for 2022: I hope we keep recovering.

Ms. Z
2021 Reflections: This year, I became more aware of mental health issues, like depression and anxiety. Enduring social distance has been difficult.

Hope for 2022: Being able to make new connections has given me some hope for the new year. I’m glad I have the ladies in my group.

2021 Reflection: It was good. It could have been better, but that’s God’s way of saying, “That’s good enough for you”.

Hope for 2022: I hope I live to see it. And if I do or if I don’t, it’s all right. I’ll leave you all down here to pay bills and I’ll go up yonder.

2021 Reflection: It was pretty hard with the COVID, with certain family member getting it. This 2021 was pretty hard for me, and struggling to keep yourself from getting sick.

Hope for 2022: I hope the economy gets better. In the stores when you go shopping, it’s not the same, with all the different rules. I just wish everything would better than what it was in 2021. All the business will have people wear masks and go by the rules. This might be wishful thinking. I’m looking forward for my prayers to be answered.

2021 Reflections: I’m going to say this: ‘21 was a very bad year. So much killing every night, a lot of robbing and home invasions.

Hope for 2022: I hope and pray for 2022 that everyone gets together, our families, friends, and neighbors, and everyone sticks together. I hope we get in touch with each other and give our help. If someone asks for help, I hope we can be there for them and also respect their privacy. I hope everyone gets their booster and COVID shot.

Next year, I hope they get rid of these damn drugs and guns. With these elected officials, why would we elect them, and then when we have a problem and we call their office, they don’t respond? They can’t be that busy all the time. Especially when you have something really important, they should respond. I hope that changes.

2021 Reflection: I realize that these are rough times, but seems as though we are coming out of the Coronavirus. Things are slowly but surely returning to normal. Seems like more people are getting together more, more restaurants opening up inside. The school district opened their schools this year. It’s a slow, slow, slow process, but things are opening up. I have an aunt on my father’s side, and she is the only sibling left of the five siblings. She turned 101 years old this December. If you go back to 1918, she would have been a little girl, but she lived through that pandemic.

Hope for 2022: I am hoping that things will get better, I’m thinking that this year was the start of things getting better. 2020 was rough, 2021 was a little better, and 2022 should be even better. I’m looking for better, bigger things to take place in 2022. I’m very optimistic and very happy and hopeful for the year 2022.  It’s always the darkest before the dawn. We’re going through some really, really darks times, but I’m expecting great things.

ABOUT SOWN The Supportive Older Womens Network serves grandparent-headed families, caregivers for loved ones, and vulnerable older adults in the Greater Philadelphia region. A grassroots news partner with WHYY/N.I.C.E.
4100 Main St. Suite 403, Philadelphia (MAP LINK)
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This column was written by Lori Latimer, SOWN’s Director of Programs. Read last month’s column here

About SOWN 17 Articles
SOWN strengthens community support networks, reduces social isolation, and improves the well-being of older adults, especially women and their families. It offers a number of resources, including peer counseling groups by phone and in person, individual counseling, educational workshops, and resource referrals.

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