June 1, 2020
To my incredible children, grandchildren, students, nieces, nephews and young people who are like family,
I wrote a letter to you when we first began our stay at home orders here in the United States. At that time most of the Covid-19 cases were occurring in Washington State, California and New Jersey. Here in my hometown of Houston, Texas there were no more than a couple dozen folks who had tested positive for the disease so it was a bit difficult to believe that our area would get hit very hard with the virus. While we were locked away in our homes we watched as the illness penetrated almost every corner of the world in one way or another. The images of empty streets in London, Paris, Rome, and New York City were a haunting backdrop to the rising numbers of sick and dying. Now as I convey my thoughts to you the United States there have been 100,000 deaths even as we begin the process of reopening our cities and towns. At the same time the tragic murder of a Black man, George Floyd, by a police officer in Minnesota has led to an outpouring of grief and rage not just in our own country but across the world.
So much has changed in such a short amount of time. The world as we expected it to be feels very different. People who able to do so are still working at home and students are finishing the school year from their bedrooms. The proms and graduations and track meets and school competitions were mostly eliminated from the end of the year calendar. Some of you took your Advanced Placement tests online without the usual review sessions from your teachers. Being part of this historical event has been tough and the coming times feel almost as uncertain as the last several weeks have been. Who knows what all of us will face as we begin to rebuild the world again? Now with the added difficulties of the protesting and the unfortunate destruction that has sometimes come with it, we are all asking ourselves what we might have done to prevent the suffering.
I have watched all of you working hard to comply with the directives designed to flatten the curve of contagion and protect the vulnerable in our midst. I have heard your impassioned pleas for justice and equality and the recognition of Black Lives. I’ve witnessed you continuing your studies and preparing for a future whose form is evolving even as I type these words. We simply don’t know what the next weeks and months will be like for anyone and yet all of you are maintaining your optimism and your resolve. Regardless of what the world is going to be like as we move forward I sense that each of you will be ready.
I’ve had conversations with some of you regarding your concerns about the environment, the cost of attending college, the inequities of this world. I know that you are thinking well beyond your own needs and you have proved your mettle in this difficult time. With little or no guidance you have worked as hard as you would have if there had been directives and deadlines. Nothing has stopped you and that is the mark of greatness. I have also been exceedingly proud of your compassion and willingness to speak out for those whose lives are being turned upside down.
I recently heard a woman speaking about the effect of Covid 19 on the psychological health of the nation’s youth. With a smile on her face she insisted that those of you who are young possess an inordinate amount of grit, the quality of maintaining determination even when life is challenging. She assured her audience that true grit will propel people like you forward regardless of what kind of changes are wrought by this pandemic. She pointed out that some of the greatest discoveries and positive developments were born in tough times. Isaac Newton invented Calculus when he was sent home from the university during an outbreak of plague in the 1600s. That same terrible time resulted in sanitation improvements and new medicines. She believes that it will be the young men and women of the world who will define the problems that the pandemic has exposed and then invent new ways of enhancing the world. You are the explorers, entrepreneurs, creators and leaders of the future.
I know that you have faced so many disappointments and the possibility of even more as the virus and the unrest dictate how we will return to a new kind of normal. I really hope that the older generation will listen to and consider your ideas. You are dreamers and your thoughts have the potential to fuel a worldwide renaissance. You have seen the possibilities and now it is time to begin to bring them to fruition.
You still have dues to pay and hoops through which you must jump but you are quickly earning your wings and respect for your hard work and patience. The sacrifices you are making now and the challenges you will most certainly face in the coming times will make you strong as long as you refuse to allow them to defeat you. You are creative and flexible. Use those natural tendencies to keep your optimism flourishing. Think beyond the confines of the way things have always been. Continue to be curious and unafraid to notice problems and address them.
I smile when I think of you and my chest puffs up with pride. Learn from this experience but do not allow it to pull you down. Be ready to teach some tricks to old dogs like me. Be open to unexpected opportunities and be willing to take a side trip down a bumpy road. You never know what you may find.
Mama, Gammy, Aunt Sharron, Mama B.