The Granny Project: Marlo (89)

The Coronavirus pandemic is impacting the global population in drastic ways. In many societies, older people are particularly vulnerable as they face a significant risk of developing severe illness when they contract the virus. We often talk about the elderly these days, but we don't hear from them. How do they experience these uncertain times? What can we learn from them?


Spread stories, not the virus collects their stories as part of 'The Granny Project'. Read our second story (find our other stories here), and we hope you'd like to join us to share the story of your grandparent(s) or other elderly people you know.


Marlo, 89 years old, from The Hague shares her experience from the lockdown, the lessons and opportunities from the Corona crisis and how and whether it is comparable to other crises of the last century. Her story is shared by her granddaughter, Marlo, mid-May 2020.


How are you coping with the coronavirus; its lockdown, social and health consequences?

‘I’m not worried about getting sick, I stay home and keep myself busy. Nobody is visiting and I visit no one so there is no chance I get sick. And if you get sick in such circumstances, it is really just bad luck and you can’t do anything about it’

How are you communicating with your family & friends?

‘By phone, but I am not such a caller. I don’t have problems with staying home. Being on my own is absolutely no problem for me. My youngest daughter has offered to come by many times, to make sure I have everything, but I told her off every time. I can take care of myself, and there is enough activities to do for me! I can read, work in the garden, clean, I won’t be bored. The phone is a good alternative to talk to my children and grandchildren.’

Are you still going shopping?

‘No, there is a small grocery store on wheels driving around in my neighbourhood. That has always been there. I don’t need much, so I buy all my groceries from him!’


Photo by Niklas Dam

What can you say to the younger generation about the crisis and how to deal with it?

‘What can I tell the younger generation? *laughs* No I am so old, we are very different. Well actually, that they should adhere to the rules, that is the best you can do. I don’t agree with the fact that hairdressers are open but gyms are closed, especially for the younger generation. Still, it is best to follow the rules to stay home and stay safe.’

Have you learned something new during the recent time? Started using digital devices etc.?

‘No I didn’t learn any new skills. My friend’s daughter suggested we could play bridge online with our ladies group. I talked to my friend about it, and we both had no idea. She only has an Ipad, no computer. I have a computer but I wouldn’t know how to turn it on. I am sure we could figure out how it works on our Ipads but we let go of that idea quite fast. It is such a hassle. I can imagine others have learned new things. Well actually I learn new things about health matters everyday through the news. For example, about the damage done to your lungs after having been severely sick from Covid-19 or even from a lung infection. And I never knew that people leave the intensive care so fragile. That’s just new facts from the news.’


Dr. Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany, has recently called the corona-crisis the largest challenge since the second world-war: Would you agree?

‘That is no comparison, it’s completely different. Admittedly, in both scenarios you don’t have your regular freedom, but war is way worse. In war you are robbed from your freedom by unknown authorities. Now it is our own government telling us what to do which is a lot less scary. I was 9 when the war started, and lived in Roermond. Roermond got bombed completely. We lived in a basement for three months with 15 people. We were under attack the whole time. For cooking and washing we could only go up very quickly. Barely anything was left standing. When we got moved to Germany, we slept with a German family. We had no bed, we slept on the floor. When moved back to The Netherlands, there was nothing left of our house. So I do not know how others have experienced the war, but in my opinion it is a bad comparison.’


Would you like to contribute to The Granny Project? Interview your grandparent(s) or other elderly you know, and submit their stories for publication on our platform. If you need some inspiration, feel free to use this interview guide. Read previous stories that were published as part of this project here.

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