Hello to all the readers of the features pages in the Irish Independent.
This is from someone who lives in the middle of Ireland and who, at 82, is most definitely in the vulnerable elderly group which everyone tells us is in huge danger from the coronavirus. I was cheered up somewhat when I read and saw that the elderly included people 50-plus, so it's not just us who are then at risk.
In fact, everyone is at risk in this new world in which we are living. I thought of the famous American poet Robert Frost and his quotation which says, "In three words I can sum up everything I have learned about life: it goes on." I don't think anyone could express it as pithily and succinctly as Robert Frost has done. Yes, life, no matter what the strictures are, goes on, and will continue to do so.
After all, we can always think, write, read, look, listen and telephone. I'm currently reading a book I got from Fr Iggy O'Donovan called Wounded Shepherd: Pope Francis and his Struggle To Convert the Catholic Church, by Austen Ivereigh. Very interesting it is too.
What is the greatest deprivation I am facing? It is quite simply the loss of the company of my grandchildren. I am so lucky in that I have six grandchildren; two in Dublin aged 17 and 15, and four here in Athlone ranging in age from 9 to 17. Akin to all grandparents, I simply adore my grandchildren. I am used to seeing the Athlone ones regularly; either Aengus or Lisa would be in and they would have one or two in tow.
And then when I was out for lunch with them on a Sunday I would see them all. So I was very much in tune with what they were doing in their young lives - school, sport, recreation, all of it - and we had many a laugh and a chuckle over events in their lives. But on Saturday, when my son visited, I had to wave at my grandson out the front door.That is a huge loss, and to me the greatest one that coronavirus events have thrown up.
I can still go to the supermarket and to the local pharmacy when needs arise, though I don't intend to stockpile anything, only to get enough for what is needed for the few days ahead. There is one matter I can't get my head around, and nobody has given me an explanation: why, why, why the run on toilet paper? It has nothing to do with coronavirus, and therefore it must show a huge addiction to cleanliness of some kind or another.
So, communications are important, and particularly the mobile phone. What would we do without it? That, of course, and the enormous work which anyone involved in the health service is engaged in. Can you imagine - they are going through the whole coronavirus epidemic in detail, and yet they have to worry about their own health and the health of their families. I say thank you to everyone within the health service.
As I took in the milk this morning from my doorstep, I saw a few hardy daffodils bursting out in the front garden, certainly not like Wordsworth's daffodils: "Ten thousand saw I at a glance/ Tossing their head in sprightly dance". No no, not like that, but a few hardy golden beacons of sun and light, waving valiantly in the brisk, early morning breeze. It is just wonderful the way they come up every year without any particular tending of the soil or gardening lore of any kind. They just come through, and give us all such hope and optimism.
So, have I any words of wisdom from my lofty, elderly status? Yes, I have. Do not pay heed to things you hear on Twitter or any other platform. Listen each evening to the health committee when they speak, and whatever orders they come out with, obey those. I believe strongly in that good advice, and I intend to stick to it.
So, keep your head clear and observe all of the social interaction rules which we are told about. Keep in communication with your friends and family. And remember, it will end and we will have done our bit, both for ourselves and for others.
Tomorrow: Sophie White on the chaos of family life in lockdown