First in a three-part series about local people with special challenges during the coronavirus quarantine. They share their stories of how they cope and hope at this time, and offer advice for you. Reprinted from the April 30, 2020 New Castle Courier-Times. Tomorrow's paper will feature Amie Thornburg of Spiceland.
By DONNA CRONK
Despite complications from cerebral palsy, and a prognosis that she would never see her fifth birthday, lifelong New Castle resident Lynda Alberson is 57 and due to the creativity of her friends, is in the process of “touring” the country.
One thing that doesn’t scare this virtual traveler is getting the coronavirus. Although at high risk due to asthma, Lynda says, “If I get it, I get it. I can’t spend my life worrying about dying. I was supposed to die before I was 5. I am now going to be 58 in November.”
What troubles Alberson is not what will happen to her, but she is concerned for others and that her loved ones will be OK and that small businesses will make it.
Reared on love
Raised in a family that loved her deeply, including her late parents Gene and Dayton Alberson, the daughter remains encouraged by her upbringing and the love of family and her community. She says if she dies, she feels it’s her time. She credits Granny for her outlook.
“I could not go outside and play like everybody else so I sat and talked to her,” recalls Lynda. “She talked to me like a person; told me when my time is up, it is up.” Granny told her granddaughter that she can either fret or live her life.
Lynda says she knows so-called “normal” people who are not as blessed as she is. “I have many, many people that care about me, plus when I was very young, my Granny told me I had a choice. I could be bitter, not have people like me and be unhappy – or, smile, laugh and always find the silver living. I picked B.”
In fact, Lynda enjoys laughter so much, and finding the humorous side to life, she says, “If not for my voice I would try my hand at stand-up comic – or in my case – sit down.”
The hometown woman claims two New Castle Chrysler High School classes as her own. As a proud member of the Class of 1981, Lynda looks forward to her 40th anniversary next year. She was originally to be in the class of 1982 but credits her teachers with getting her promoted a year early by having her work ahead in sixth grade and thus skip the perils of going to the seventh-grade building with no elevator.
Lynda’s teachers also encouraged her to stay positive with advice that yes, she does things differently, but she is still no different than “June, Steve or Cathy.” She credits many people for her positive outlook.
Chick on a stick
As for her hobby of travel, Lynda would love to see all of the nation’s 50 states. She came up with a way that just might let her meet that goal. She got the idea from someone on TV who had his or her photo taken out of state and emailed to a TV station.
“I thought ‘Hey, might be a way for me to say my head has been in 50 states.’” So she posted the idea on Facebook and her friends got on board. “My friend Judy jumped on it. She takes me everywhere,” says Lynda.
“Others like my friends Nancy and Liz ran with it. Had family take me to reunions. I so enjoy the creative way they do it,” Lynda continues. “Nancy walked up to people on the beach and said, ‘Hold my friend’s head, I am posting on Facebook. They said cool.’ Our mutual friend Liz got a race car driver to hold my head and sign it.”
Lynda goes on. “The joy I have got from one post, amazing. Guess it circles back to how I stay upbeat. How can I not with all the amazing people around me?”
Advice to others
Lynda has some thoughts on how others can get through tough times such as this period of extreme social distancing. She encourages people to set goals, to get up, dressed and know what day it is. “If you don’t, you fall in a dark well that even Lassie can’t save you (from),” says Lynda.
She encourages people to “Don’t visit your fears or judgments on others,” to maybe check on loved ones or keep busy for their health. She also says to be kind. Her comedic side suggests to not be the neighbor from (the old TV show) "Bewitched."
Adds Lynda, “Laugh every day, especially at yourself.” She says if she is dropped on her head, she doesn’t get mad, but laughs and says, “Retake.”
Lynda says that “Laughter is a gift. Use it often. Lastly, remember you are not (the) only one. Treat the ones helping you kindly. They don’t have to help.”
I'd know that view anywhere ...
It's inside the little Brownsville United Methodist Church. It's where my Grandma Jobe played piano, but not in my lifetime. It's where I went to church growing up. It's where I got married at 20. In the graveyard surrounding it is where my family members who have passed are buried.
It's taken me weeks to write this post. Recently my brother's ashes were buried in the cemetery here, surrounded by our other close family members nearby, including close by our brother David and his wife Janet, and our folks, Huburt and Martha Jobe, and a great-niece and great-great-nephew. On the other side of the cemetery, grandparents and great-grandparents.
It was a short service, occurring just before the stricter funeral gathering restrictions went into place. In fact the next day, new work-from-home policies were established, despite our media exemption.
Life has been anything but normal since Tim's gravesite military burial, and a quick paying of respects. Then we dispersed back to our homes. Life will never be normal without Tim. He was the best. I will miss him every day for the rest of my life.
But I wanted to say something about the unexpected comfort I found that day from some special ladies. These church ladies, I've known all or most of my life. And there they were that day.
When we arrived at the cemetery, I heard strains of organ music coming from the church. There was no inside service, but I had to know who was in there playing. I went in and there was Charlotte, as if there from a dream of an earlier time. Charlotte has always in my recollections, been an organist at my sweet little hometown church.
She said because they had not had services the previous Sunday, and because she was thinking of Tim, she just wanted to come in and play ...
And there was Pat, changing the sign out front. Another dear heart I've known all my life.
Lois was there, too. She asked if we wanted photos sitting in the pew space where my mother and I sat on Sundays. So briefly, all too briefly, that's where we were and I turned the camera on her.
On one of the hardest days ever, despite the years, despite the distance in miles, despite lots of life getting in the way, despite the quick service, despite it all, I was comforted uniquely and tremendously by these constants in my life from my little church in the wild wood. Thank you ladies.
And then, it was over ... and we were on our way home.
We always spend Easter dinner and afternoon with our daughter-in-law Allison's family. So tomorrow afternoon will be quite low key with folks not able to get together this spring due to social distancing. Still, I put out a few decorations. I didn't buy anything new; just used what I had, such as this green bunny, and handful of fake eggs, and a good scatter around Grandma Jobe's marble-top hutch.
I've had this peony wreath for probably 20 years. I ordered it from the Current stationery and novelty catalog. I remain impressed with how realistic Indiana's State Flowers look after all this time, how authentic the leaves, and how much I still enjoy this wreath either encircling a candle (this spring it's on the kitchen table) or hanging from a door or wall. Happy Easter everyone! Remember, we have every reason for celebration because the tomb is still empty!