Mother's Corner

This pandemic highlights what’s truly essential

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Yolande Barial

I walked by a cracked light switch faceplate in the garage of my home for well over 10 years. It was held together with clear packing tape, and every weekend for 10 years, I said to myself that I needed to go buy a new faceplate.

After sheltering in place for the past few months, I went to Ace Hardware and for 87 cents I finally purchased a beautiful light switch faceplate and replaced the cracked one.

My daughter, a freshman in college, called me last month to tell me her dorm was closing and she needed to be out by Sunday. It was Tuesday. She is in college in Tennessee. After a few groans and moans, I purchased a one-way plane ticket, and she packed up her belongings and placed what she couldn’t carry in storage and flew home. She finished her college courses online.

My middle son is a junior in college in Atlanta, and they closed their dorms; however, he lives off campus, so he was able to stay and finish his college courses online.

My older son is a high school teacher in Atlanta and had to go from teaching in the classroom to social distance learning with his students overnight.

Our world has changed within weeks. This change has affected everything that we as a people are used to experiencing. It has taught us that we should never take what we have for granted. That we should enjoy our relationships and be appreciative of our jobs.

It should remind us that essential is not always who has the most money, who has the better job, whose house is bigger and whose education is more advanced. Essential is what is needed to survive and to thrive. Essential are the nurses, doctors, janitors; the grocery, convenience and gas store workers; those who pick our fruits and vegetables and work countless hours in meat packing jobs; and truck drivers who ensure that all our food is delivered.

Essential is sitting and talking for countless hours with our children and family, enjoying each and every minute realizing that we may not be able to touch the way we used to, but the conversations can be more intimate, personal, long and enjoyable. Essential sustains us. Essential is quality time with yourself. This is the time when we can finish our own honey-do lists, clean that garage and manicure the yard at a leisurely pace — listening to the thoughts that go through our minds.

The graduating class of 2020 needs to be reminded that their worth is essential. We must celebrate them. If you can drive by and honk, social distance and drop off a gift, send a card or send some money — you must. These graduates will need more than those from years past. They need compassion, need to be uplifted and need to know that this too shall pass. Show them they are essential.

Yolande Barial is a Tracy resident and mother. Her column appears monthly in the Tracy Press. Comments can be sent to

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