Keeping in Touch and Keeping Track by Kim Aubrey

Self portraits May

The call for lockdown came just as my husband and I were preparing to drive to New Hampshire to care for my mother during her recovery from surgery. Her hip replacement was scheduled for March 18. On March 14 I read the Prime Minister’s online message advising Canadians to stay home, and my husband read that our health insurance would probably not cover us if we went to the States.

The next day I talked to my younger brother M. in Texas. He prepared to step in and take care of Mom.

Journal May

“We can’t come,” I told my mother. “Maybe you should postpone your surgery.”

“Not going to happen,” she said, determined to go ahead with the hip replacement which would relieve her pain.

Journal May 14th

But on March 16 the surgeon’s office called her to reschedule for May.

My middle brother E. survived a terrible traffic accident when he was nineteen. Since then he’s lived with a brain injury. He and Mom share a house and are company for one another, but during the past few years, he’s had trouble keeping his balance and has suffered a few bad falls. On March 19, he fell for the second time in the space of a week. Mom called an ambulance, which took him to the Emergency Room. Luckily, he didn’t break any bones, but he was in pain for over a  month. I wanted to be there to help my mother and brother, but all I could do was call by phone and Skype, remind him to ice his shoulder, remind her to take the anti-inflammatory pills the surgeon had prescribed.

As May approached I waited for the surgeon to postpone again, but it didn’t happen. My brother M. once again agreed to stay with Mom during and after her surgery. Despite my worries, the surgery was a success, no one got sick, and Mom has had a good recovery.


Since mid-March I’ve been talking to her and E. every day. I used to call once or twice a week, but knowing I can’t visit anytime soon and aware of the danger the virus poses, I feel the need to check in more often. It’s become part of my pandemic routine, like working on my novel, online yoga and Nia classes, and the journal I’ve been keeping since December, inspired by an exercise in Lynda Barry’s wondrous book Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor.

Barry’s book is based on the writing/drawing classes she taught at the University of Wisconsin. I’m a fan of her comics and have been wanting to write/draw a graphic novel for many years now. To prepare myself, I started doing a couple of the exercises Barry set her students—a quick daily self-portrait and daily lists of seven things done, seven things seen, and one thing heard, along with another quick drawing.

I’m grateful I began this practice before the lockdown as it’s been an easy and satisfying way to keep track of these pandemic days.

Journal June 11th

12 Comments Add yours

  1. gwynn2013 says:

    So sorry you weren’t able to be with your Mum and brother. It must be very difficult. But I do love your daily do-notice-hear and draw idea. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. kimaubrey says:

      Thanks, Gwynn!


  2. This truly is a journal in a time of pandemic, Kim. A great habit to keep. It must be tough to not see your mother and brother. What good news that the surgery finally went ahead and that she is recovering well. I empathize with your brother.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. kimaubrey says:

      Thanks, Cynthia! I hope all is well with you and your family.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. dmwauthor says:

    You have been a help to many during these difficult times and have found how to keep yourself going strong. Graphic novel a great idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. kimaubrey says:

      Thanks, Donna!


  4. Alix Taggart says:

    Your commitment to keeping a journal is inspiring , love the style and the drawings! So happy your mom’s surgery went ahead and she’s on the mend. Hope she & E are back to their routine . I’m going to follow your blog and look forward to the graphic novel!! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. kimaubrey says:

      Thanks, Alix! It’s good to hear from you. I hope all is well with you and your family.


  5. Wow — such a lot to deal with, and you found a creative way to handle it all too. Impressive! BTW I also love Lynda Barry, and got to interview her on CBC Radio back in the late 80s when she was doing a book tour in TO. It was a thrill.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. kimaubrey says:

    Thanks, Marie-Lynn! Wow, I’m envious you got to meet Lynda Barry! I heard her speak at IFOA once. She so wonderful, quirky and inspiring.


  7. Esther Fine says:

    It’s so interesting to see you collecting your thoughts and then drawing and writing them. Thanks for posting this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. kimaubrey says:

      Thanks, Esther!


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