“Waiting Time”

June 26th, 2020

By MJ Benda, Historical Society Trustee and Volunteer Carriage House Gift Shop Manager

March 11th, I’d just spent 10 days enjoying the company of friends, the architecture, restaurants and hospitality of Charleston, Savannah, and St. Augustine.  We’d had a wonderful time.  Suddenly everything changed, COVID was with us.  What do you mean that I have to stay home, that I can’t spend time with friends or enjoy an evening out?  Then the emails came, and I started to cross things off my calendar.  Dinner with friends, shows at RBTL, the Geneva Music Festival Gala, concerts at Rose Hill, and the “new normal” began.  So, I did what anyone would do, I moped around the house and did nothing for the better part of a week.  Finally, I had a serious talk with myself and said “Mary Jean, you would have given your eye teeth for this kind of down time when you were working.”  I got up and made a list.  All kinds of things went on that list, projects large and small, things long neglected and some just thought of.  The attic and the basement were cleaned out, amazing what you discover isn’t it?  Next, I tackled my project basket.  It was full of things that needed to be finished, it had been years since I had seen the bottom.  Boy did that feel good, so I kept going.  As the days went on, more things were crossed off that list.  Occasionally, I would do something that wasn’t on the list.  Well, I’d have to add it in order to derive the immense pleasure of crossing it off!

The upstairs bathroom was wallpapered, yard work was tackled, a new counted cross stitch was started for the library’s “A Taste of Jazz” raffle table.  I found myself becoming almost content, not happy by any means, but content with the quarantine.  Then I remembered something I had read years ago “view waiting time as a gift of time.”  Waiting patiently has never been my strong suite.  Never did I ever think the “waiting time” would be in my own home for an indefinite period.  And that’s when this time became, a gift.

A display on a table of framed prints, wooden wine bottle stoppers and magnets.When a change in scenery was needed, I’d go out to Rose Hill and work in the gift shop.  I’ve started to stage the gift shop for the upcoming season.  I’m thoroughly enjoying doing this at a more leisurely pace than usual.  Whenever Rose Hill can open, the gift shop will be ready.  I have been truly fortunate to have received many donations of treasured items.  These become “vintage finds” when added to be shop’s inventory.   These “finds” add that dimension of finding something unexpected or unique to the shop, you never know what’s going to be in the next box.

Are there still things on my list?  Of course.  One project I just crossed off was staining and finishing my front door.  I had purchased the “same day stain and finishing kit” in 2013.  Guess it was finally time.  In the interest of full disclosure, it took a little over a week to complete that one-day job.  When it came time to cross that one off, well I might have been a bit heavy handed when I did it…

One of the projects I have not gotten to yet is making mercury glass ornaments.  Depending on how successful I am, you may see them at the Wassail Bowl Sale in December.

I’m grateful the waiting time became a gift of time.  Not in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that months later we’d still be waiting for life, as we knew it, to begin again.

What might future historians and generations need to understand the COVID-19 Pandemic?  All of us have a story to tell on how the pandemic is affecting our lives.  Are you in an at-risk group or have someone in your home who is?  How has the stay-at-home order affected you?  Do you shop less or use a grocery delivery service?  For students at home, what has your experience been like? What is your new normal?    Join the Geneva Historical Society in documenting this historic moment through “We Stay At Home: A Record of Geneva During the 2020 Pandemic.”  Share your story through narratives (a letter, poem, song, recipes, and short story), images (photographs, screenshots of social media, memes), audio, videos, and files (emails, flyers, announcement, text messages, tweets).  To share your story, go to

2 responses to ““Waiting Time””

  1. Joanne Wisor says:

    MJ, I enjoyed this so much. Wish I could be as productive. Not too late to start, is it?

  2. Barb Lippincott says:

    Gosh, MJ, I thought I was doing great when I cleaned out a few closets!!!! I really enjoyed your blog.

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