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  • Frances Schwabenland

Portraits of Heroes in the Time of Covid

We The People of Hope and Healing

"Love and respect are both verbs."

When I drove up to the home that Jenn and Regina share, I was struck by the beautiful welcome they create for people... from the "Love Lives Here" sign, to the rainbow colored flag showing off each color as the wind orchestrated its movement and the vibrant gardens they created. There was even a hen house. "They nourish us everyday with the gift of their eggs and we so appreciate and respect them." They have truly created a sanctuary of gentle harmony to help defuse the stress they face day in and day out.

Jenn is a pulmonary nurse at Temple and they presently have the highest number of Covid 19 cases in our city. Regina is a nurse at Penn Presbyterian's Medical -Oncology unit. When they return home each day, shoes are bleached outside and scrubs taken off immediately to be washed. The most difficult of days are met with a shared understanding and a deep abiding love between them which restores each to go back and continually give to the sickest among us. 

Because there was so much color and life giving energy at their home, I found myself with so many images that I wanted to use to convey their spirits. They themselves have colorful tattoos with special meanings... a praying mantis for mindfulness, a koi fish swimming upward through many struggles, a reminder to not give up despite the hardships life may bring. I incorporated a red rose to symbolize the love that goes out to many. White and red flowers from their garden, the rainbow flag and the LOVE sign from their property. They also live close to Valley Green (most appropriately named) where they go to walk so I used the greenery, and a "sit for a while and enjoy" bench there to convey the beauty, peace and stillness they receive from nature. 

This virus has unearthed our "fault lines", exposing the vast inequities experienced across race, cultural and socio-economic lines. People of color are our greatest number of victims being hospitalized in the city. I used the Philadelphia Mural at Pennsgrove Street (unable to find the title and artist) and the one entitled, Peace is A Haiku Song by Joshua Sarantitis to show young Black girls surrounded by doves and cranes symbolizing hope for a new day. May wisdom and respect come forth to right and rewrite the policies that are so needed to be put in place in our country, starting with health care. WE the people! All of us together. These nurses of such compassion and dedication are making a huge difference for those hospitalized and marginalized. They have known the hardships of discrimination. They are an inspiration to me as they live out their dedication, respect for humanity and the earth, and their compassion to walk with others at this very difficult time, putting themselves at risk. They have shown me that both LOVE and RESPECT are definitely verbs! Let us add "Equality in place of discrimination to that list of verbs as well. 

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