Editor’s note: The Virus Diaries is a series in which Mainers talk about how they are affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Mary Louise Liucci-Smith comes across as an irrepressible spirit. A retired first-grade teacher at Raymond Elementary, Liucci-Smith, 80, is still offering lessons, with an over-the-top positive spin. She lives in Scarborough.

Mary Louise Liucci-Smith: “From the very beginning of my self-quarantine, I decided my glass was half-full and set out to meet the challenges, and count my blessings.” Photo courtesy of Mary Louise Liucci-Smith

“I am an 80-year old woman. I suffer from chronic sarcoidosis, a multi-system disorder that has affected my lungs and joints,” she said. “I live alone. I tell my story to give hope and bring a smile to my fellow readers, during these horrific and scary days.

“From the very beginning of my self-quarantine, I decided my glass was half-full and set out to meet the challenges, and count my blessings. I have a wonderful ‘go-to team’ of family and friends who check in on me and get my groceries. I am a former first grade teacher. (In school), we started each day with the morning story chart to outline our day’s activities.

“I have created the ‘Q’ report for my family each day. I take a selfie or make a video, then share my day with them in a text. ‘Once a teacher, always a teacher.’

“I have always called my 960-square-foot condo ‘the shelter of my soul,’ from the first day I moved in, over 14 years ago. It is my safe place. At that time, I was recently divorced, and a dear friend said, ‘Don’t let anyone in your heart or your home that doesn’t love you unconditionally.’ Words to live by in 2005 and I continue to follow them in 2020. During this time of isolation and loneliness, my heart and home is filled daily by the people I love unconditionally.

“I have begun turning lemons into lemonade.

“I made a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies that didn’t turn out that great. Voila … I  got my hammer out, and sturdy plastic bag, and made delicious granola.

“One day, I made chocolate pudding. I went to get my little glass dishes to put the pudding in; … right beside them were my mother’s china cups. Voila, I put my pudding in china cups and transformed the pudding into an experience. I also took out my sterling silver teaspoons. Oh yes, I sprinkled my granola on the pudding … quite elegant.

“I had the yearning for homemade bread last week. I loved the experience of kneading the bread and watching it rise quietly in a warm corner of my stove. I decided to make a pizza and two loaves of bread. I topped my pizza with leftover sauce, eggplant and grated parmesan cheese. The pizza consumed my home with its delicious smells.

“When I took it out to the oven, I subconsciously, automatically shut off the oven. Then I put the two loaves of bread in and set the timer. When I checked the bread, the oven was only warm, and the bread was not cooking. … It had become hard and dry when I finally put the oven back on.

“Voila, the next day I made delicious raisin bread pudding. No, I didn’t top it with granola.

“My quarantine story … is not about the cookies, the pudding and the bread. It is a story of hope for me and others. I have my hopeful days, my lonely days and sad days like we all do. For me, it is starting my day with gratefulness and prayers for our world. It is finding joy in the little things – four red-tailed hawks circling in the blue sky as I walked yesterday … my (daughter-in-law) Sara delivering groceries and chatting outside, far apart, but so close as we chatted.

“I am not able to predict my future. I only know I have today. I will wave and smile to every car that goes by as I walk. I will pray for my family, friends and our world, especially my granddaughter, Meghan Ruth, a traveling nurse who works in Newark, New Jersey. I will follow the guidelines and surrender the rest to God.”

Do you have a story to share about how you are affected by the coronavirus outbreak? Email us at [email protected]

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