Letters from Home: What Ohioans Say They've Learned About Themselves

Apr 10, 2020

WOSU's Letters from Home is a new series collecting stories about day-to-day lives during the coronavirus pandemic. We kicked off with a question about self reflection: What have you learned about yourself during this time?

Here are a few of the responses we've gathered from our community so far. And you can still submit your own story below.

Debra L. Lape from Avon, Ohio

I’ve been thinking a lot about my great-great grandmother who disappeared during the last pandemic in Ohio in June of 1918. How can a time be so bad that a person can be misplaced without a death certificate or a forwarding address?

I hear that the apex of the curve for the highest number of deaths in our county and the state of Ohio is several weeks ahead of us, late April into May, maybe into June. I’m not afraid for myself. But my grandmother’s great grandson, my father, is in his mid-80’s and I’m terrified. 

Another lost generation on the horizon… In one way I think I’ve found my great-great grandmother at last – because I am living her story.

Lizzie Lape (left) disappeared during the 1918 flu pandemic, when it ravaged Ohio. Deb L. Lape (right, three from right) can't help but think of her great-great grandmother during this time. She disappeared at the same age Deb is now.
Credit Courtesy of Debra L. Lape

Robert Hardin-Leeth from Columbus, Ohio

I’m lucky. Last August, I retired early. So, staying home and in my garden every day is almost a treat. I didn’t seem to mind the quarantine until my oldest daughter stopped by to drop something off, and she wouldn’t come inside for fear of making me sick. We waved on the front sidewalk and chatted about the spring flowers. Then, she left.

My arms still ache from want of hugging her. I don’t know when I will be able to hug my daughter again. This is something I never would have imagined, and which I can’t fully comprehend. I only know that it is sad. I think of those who have lost family members. I can imagine their pain, and I am reminded that I am lucky. So far.

Richard L. Hoffman from Columbus, Ohio

I am the poster child for preexisting conditions. I am 72 years old, have a history of heart problems with a quad-bypass, COPD, and use an Oxygen machine. Now I feel that it is my best interest not to go anywhere.

I miss the interaction with fellow veterans that I meet at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum. I miss the meeting with our church group on Saturday night. I miss the Monday mornings at McDonald's with my fellow ROMEO’s (Retired Old Men Eating Out). Meeting with Kiwanis every Monday. Meeting with the Hilltop Historical Society and planning events.

Thinking of all these things makes me realize just how busy my retirement life has become.

Janice Dunham from Worthington, Ohio

I’ve learned that during this crisis and within the course of each day, I can experience a wide range of emotions and states of being. And all of that is OK. There has been so much change in our usual routines and connections.

At times, I feel sadness and flop onto the bed, face down to cry for a few minutes. At times, I feel joy when I connect with my loved ones via the phone or internet and I am able to confirm that everyone is still all right. Many family memories, especially vacations, float close to the surface during these times and I bathe in them when I can.

Spring is coming. The warming sun will rise. The skies are opening up into clear and steady blue colors. Daffodils are sending out bursts of yellow that assure us that winter is losing its grip. And as the trees become green again, I will be walking under that canopy of comfort and safety, gathering strength and a sense of being well and wholeness and refreshment.

Amy Oblinger from Columbus, Ohio

I really do feel that there are deeper things happening beneath the surface. I can't articulate them really well, just yet. It's almost like I found an unlabeled packet of seeds in my shed and planted them and now I'm being asked what's growing in my garden. I won't fully know until summer, right?

I work as an accompanist for several high school choral programs and as music director of a local community choir. Schools are closed, and choirs can't meet, and I am really missing my work.

It's interesting, the term “accompanist” is being replaced with the term “collaborative pianist” in a lot of circles, and I really do miss the collaboration. A choir by its very definition requires a gathering of people, and I am aching for those gatherings. I play piano at home a lot, and I sing a lot, but it's not the same.

Flowers bloom around Columbus on March 31, 2020.
Credit David Holm / WOSU

There's still time to join the conversation.  What have you learned about yourself during this time of physical/social distancing?

Answer this question using the form below.

WOSU brings you Letters from Home in partnership with the Columbus Museum of Art.