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COVID In Appalachia: A Son Interviews His Mom About Pandemic Lessons

George and Ann Goosmann smile while sitting in the stands near the 18th Green at Pebble Beach while visiting California in 2018.
Photo courtesy of George Goosmann.
George and Ann Goosmann on the 18th Green at Pebble Beach while visiting California in 2018. George interviewed his mom for Foxfire's COVID Oral History archive.

COVID-19 has altered our lives in numerous ways: from work to school to staying connected to friends and family. While the country processes a year of loss and uncertainty, many are reflecting on how the pandemic has changed them. For BPR and Foxfire’s COVID oral history project, we hear from Asheville resident Ann Goosmann, interviewed by her son George, a student at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Learn how you can share your experiences during the pandemic with BPR & Foxfire’s oral history guide. 

The following is an edited excerpt of the Goosmann’s oral history, recorded in November 2020. Click above to listen to BPR’s audio version.

George Goosmann: What was the most difficult part of the pandemic for you?

Ann Goosmann: Just having to adjust work and social life and volunteering and not really-- just everything being different. 

My mother who’s in her 70s, I have only been with her, either having dinner outdoors or taking walks in the neighborhood because she’s concerned about COVID. Her next door neighbor lost his 90-year-old mother, his 60-year-old sister, and his 40-year-old niece to COVID all in the same week. So she’s super cautious. 

I don’t workout with my regular group, I don’t go to spin classes, I don’t go to fitness classes, because the groups were large. The boards that I serve on, we meet via Zoom every month. My work, I see one client at a time. We take temperatures before people come in. We wear masks, we have hand sanitizer, so it has definitely made a big difference in my day-to-day life. 

George Goosmann: Was there anything that allowed this year to still be beneficial, helpful, or did it have something that came out of it that was enjoyable?

Ann Goosmann: I have three children. I have two sons that are in college and a daughter who is significantly younger and in middle school and my college-age sons came home in March and were here all summer. And even though it was challenging at times, it was time that was "found time" with them. It was time that I never expected to have with them. It was time I never expected their little sister to have with them. So I would say just the opportunity for our family to have whole family time together that we didn’t expect to have is the most beneficial aspect of it.

George Goosmann: I’m gonna go ahead and say that’s really sweet and I love you, thank you. Will the country benefit overall from this new kind of experience in your opinion?

Ann Goosmann: I think it can, I don’t know if it will, but I think it can, if we do it right. I think it can be a lesson to all of us that we can slow down and still be okay. We can slow down, take a breath, enjoy our homes, enjoy our families, enjoy our close friends and not have to be going 100 miles an hour every day. We can still survive and thrive without doing that. 

George Goosmann: Perfect, I just want to say thank you for letting me interview you and I love you Mom. I look forward to giving this to Foxfire so our experience can be documented.

Ann Goosmann: Me too.

Catherine Komp joined Blue Ridge Public Radio in September 2020 as the organization’s first Director of Content, leading BPR’s talented team of local journalists and content creators, overseeing national programming and facilitating collaborations and engagement initiatives.
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