As Independence Day approaches at a time that has brought numerous challenges to our way of life, we asked you, our readers, not how you stand alone but what — or who — you depend on. The following is an edited sample of the many replies we received:
I cannot imagine how I would have made it through the last few years without the community of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brookline. I know that in times of sickness and grief, I will receive comfort in many forms. But much more than that reassurance, I am strengthened knowing that I’m part of a community dedicated to following the commandment “Love your neighbor.” More than a set of beliefs, it turns out that this command is a path that we need mutual encouragement and diverse skills to follow.
This past week some parishioners wrote notes of encouragement to women waiting for abortions at a local clinic, while some participated in an interfaith initiative to promote affordable housing. We learn over and over that we need one another in order to do anything and that, working together, we can do more than we thought was possible.
It is easy for me to feel powerless during these times in which we live, but knowing that I am part of a truly interdependent, engaged community gives me hope.
I was raised to be fiercely independent, relying on myself to take care of myself. The last two years radically changed all of that.
Financially, I had mechanisms in place that secured my existence. They remained unimpaired. My emotional independence suffered the blow of what was going on in the world. There was no pretty way to describe the quarantine, being sequestered in my home or the fact that my social contacts were also not being social, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The highlight of my month was a trip to a local grocery store — something I never looked forward to previously.
Staying in touch by texts and phone calls often became a litany of what was going on in Boston, what I had read in the Globe, and my interpretation of it all. All real conversations were preempted by our concern for information. I became reliant on the news and was grateful for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ consistent effort to provide me with the truth as it became available.
In all this, I also relied on my husband, who gently turned off the television, put the laptop away, or turned on music when I had reached a saturation level of news.
Beverly A. Rosario
A personal declaration of interdependence? In a departure from the catalog of grievances in the original Declaration of Independence, you ask us to count our blessings in the form of what or who we depend on. Without context, that’s somewhat of an abstract question.
I depend on drivers unseen and unknown to obey the red light when I’m passing through on green. I depend on the integrity of my doctor, my lawyer, my tax preparer, and the ground not giving way as I go about my business. I depend on handshake agreements as well as a healthy sense of skepticism. I depend on the police, firefighters, teachers, and our elected representatives to remain faithful to their oaths and commitments. I depend on the sun in the morning and the moon at night. I depend on friends. But when the chips are down and it’s all hands on deck, I depend on the person I admire more than anyone: the woman who’s shared her life with me for decades.
When my mother became ill two years after my father died, and that excruciating but inevitable role reversal happened and I became the parent, as it were, to my mother, the social worker asked me about myself. Upon hearing that I was a preschool teacher with two teenagers, a husband, and a schizophrenic brother-in-law at home, she stated the obvious, though I had never thought about it in that way before: “So you’re a caregiver. Do you have someone who takes care of you?”
In the eight years since that conversation, the answer is yes. My son in college, when he heard that his grandmother was in the ER again, asked how she was; then he asked how I was. My daughter’s published writing reflected her love and concern for me. My husband, always home when I returned from a hospital visit, with arms ready to embrace me, has always been my rock. The staff at my mother’s assisted living residence, as they cared for my mother with love and respect, gave me emotional support and guidance. My friends and co-workers gave me compassion and listening ears as I navigated my mother’s old age and decline.
Yes, someone takes care of me.
I am an 82-year-old Navy veteran (1957-61). I followed the footsteps of my father and many uncles who served during World War II. It may sound corny, but I still tear up when I hear “Anchors Aweigh.”
Lately, my thoughts on this country’s direction have changed dramatically. After Watergate, I thought things would get better. I was wrong; things got worse. I now feel Congress and the Supreme Court have lost their integrity.
I depend on my wife, myself, family, and friends, and the hope and faith that we will get back on track.
I depend on our country’s history, because we’ve gone through very tough times in the past and have come out of it just fine.
The Founders would be very disappointed about today’s political scene, but democracy will win in the end. That’s the beauty of the United States.
For four long years, we had a fool in the White House, the most corrupt administration in memory, and a Republican Party on the wrong side of history. We must depend on Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice to prevent a repetition of the insanity of those four years.
I depend on the many familiar faces I see at the countless protests, rallies, and vigils I attend to remind me that I do not stand alone, and that I am part of a community, a movement, of like-minded people who still believe in our democracy, despite all its flaws, and have the courage to stand up and be counted. Isn’t that what we celebrate on the Fourth of July?
It’s the truth, of course, that we depend on from the Globe. That’s what is needed to make good decisions as voters and caretakers of our democracy. The perspective from the articles you print from The New York Times and The Washington Post adds to our understanding. What you print every day is much appreciated. I pray that you are able to continue this valued service for our multiethnic culture far into the future.
The Fourth of July is important every year as a reminder of all that we could lose if we stop caring.
What I’ve depended on? Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on “Boston Public Radio.”
Whenever the human world becomes undependable, I depend on the world of nature to lift my spirits. A walk in a park will do it, though large woodsy areas work even better. The edge of a small pond, the edge of the vast ocean — both provide relaxing relief of tension. In a pinch, even a powerline right of way has enough little bits of nature — patches of lichen, rabbit trails through the weeds, the tiniest wildflowers ever. These things can remind you that, while life can be a struggle sometimes, life itself can endure through hardships great and small. The solace I find in nature has helped me get through cancers, depression, and pandemic difficulties. I can always depend on it to help me feel better.
Martha M. Bergeron
As a senior, I depend on the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston to keep me mentally challenged. My physical container may slow down, but the varied courses offered online and in person in history, poetry and opera and the theater outings allow me to exercise my mind and stay independent.
There is no one.
As a farm kid growing up in a small Central Massachusetts town, I knew the importance of community, of helping hands when need be. But I learned early on that I needed to play a part, small as it might be.
Chores were handed out to me little by little: bringing in the wash from the clotheslines on Mondays, plucking a chicken or two at my grandfather’s side to prepare for my mother’s chicken pot pie, pulling weeds in summer, picking up a shovel after a winter storm. Rather than being mollycoddled, I was taught by example that things needed to be done, and the message was: “You can do it, Alice.” Without realizing it, I was learning self-worth.
For sure, my parents, my church, my school, the community — they were there, to boost me up, to encourage me if necessary. But at some point I began to make decisions on my own, to make mistakes on my own, to learn from my mistakes, to not make them again. I still turn to friends and neighbors from time to time. But at the end of the day, I can be responsible for myself.
Thank you, Mom and Dad, and my then-small-town community. You held my hand. I took baby steps. I became independent.
Alice M. Anderson