It hasn't been bad for me as for my kids. They're 25. The mental duress they have been under is unbelievable, and I spent a lot of time saying to the one, who you... "This isn't who you are." They were in crisis. What to do? Everything they've been told for the last 10 years and trained to do, now is not possible. How in the world do you make it through when you can't even... As hard as you work, it doesn't matter...
So that was a hard thing to watch family struggle like they did and not really be able to do anything other than to say, "I really love you, you are a very good person, and you're in the middle of a pandemic. You have every reason to be completely off your rocker right now." That's not a very nice way to say that, but I feel sometimes, it's like, you just completely feel out of control. There's not a thing you can do about it.
But I'm fortunate too. I have a husband here at home, and we could talk things through even if we weren't around each other all the time. We could still know that there was somebody else around which I believe was a gift for us. Some people that were just alone a lot, and typically weren't people that were alone a lot, I knew that they struggled. So I talked with friends on the phone more, texted more. I talked to people from far away just to see how they were doing, "What are you doing?"
My anxiety was manifest in me sewing masks and doing... I'm working on a series of pastels on essential workers. It was kind of my way to get out my anxiety about my worries, about my kids and their friends and the neighbors. People that are doing things, and for what? How little pay… that the first responders don't even have insurance, they can't afford it, and they're picking up the sick and bringing them to the hospital without insurance. So, what are we asking people to do?
As a society, I'm hoping that this will make some changes as far as how we treat each other.
— Carolyn Olson
Stories of Wisdom from Bodies in Separation (SWaBS): Archiving the Coronavirus Pandemic Through the Lens of Humanities has been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this project, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
To see the full interviews
and media for this project
To contribute your own materials to the Northeastern Minnesota COVID-19 Community Archive Project, pleaseVisit Library