Bill and Barb, Saginaw County

Storyteller: Megan Hoesman

Bill and Barb first heard about the Coronavirus when it was spreading out of China, and newscasters reassured people that it would not reach the United States. However, they were more concerned when they had to fly home to Michigan and saw people in masks. Bill and Barb have been married since 1962. They have faced life together for 58 years, but nothing they have learned in their time together prepared them for the Coronavirus. They both spent their 80th birthdays quarantined in their home in Saginaw County. 

Bill and Barb are both retired, but stay busy by volunteering in their community. Barb helps a local school, and Bill, a former pastor, preaches in a German service for a church. While not volunteering they like to spend time maintaining their home, cars, and helping their family. However, this has changed because they stay closer to home, not allowed to see their family, and were unable to go to their cabin in Mecosta County. The anxiety about seeing people only grew.

Although they have never experienced life how it is during the Coronavirus, they have a newfound appreciation for their home and all the work that goes into the upkeep. Everything they have is cleaner than ever because it is constantly cleaned! They also have a renewed thankfulness for the time spent with each other and family. However, they have lost closeness with others because of the lack of physical connection, difficulty recognizing people, and barely seeing friends. They believe they lost mobility because nowhere is open. Most importantly to them, they lost the ability to worship. Bill was a pastor, so they went to church every week. He is scared that after the virus is gone, attending worship will not happen anymore.

The virus has changed the sensory experiences that they have. Barb feels claustrophobic in her mask, and Bill’s glasses always fog up. However, both do not mind the masks because they keep themselves and others safe. Another experience they had, which was extremely sad to them, was that they had no trick-or-treaters because people were too worried about the pandemic.

The pandemic has taught Bill and Barb to appreciate the freedom that good health can bring, to stop and thank the Lord for everything that they have, and appreciate the time with family and friends. Life is short, they believe we should never take anything for granted, and to squeeze all of life out of the moment, because we never know if we will have another moment like it. The most important things in life are friends, family, faith, fun, and focusing on the present and not what could happen.

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