Families, At Home Together

USD student Julia Qualis wearing a Snuggie.


No one expected the spring of 2020 to turn out quite this way. But across the country, Torero families sheltering in place are finding creative ways to not just tolerate one another, but cherish this unexpected time in each other’s company.

In late March, the Office of Parent and Family Relations reached out to members of the Parent Board to ask them how things are going on the home front. Their responses were candid, funny, moving and thoughtful.

“This time has given us all a chance to slow down and appreciate what we have,” said Robin Darmon, whose daughter, Sarah, is a junior. “We will certainly return to ‘normal’ life with much greater appreciation for those things we previously took for granted.”

Brendan Walsh, father of second-year Catherine, offered up the following words of encouragement: “Pray! Our children attend a Catholic institution for a reason. God is always there for us in times of hardship, and this is just the time.”

Parent Bart Story, whose child, Brandt Jager-Story is a first-year, says that there’s definitely some good coming out of the situation. “On the bright side, the family seems to be learning to coexist, and by sharing space we’re getting better at understanding everyone’s perspective and opinions,” he said.

Kirk Jefferies, whose daughter Annabelle is a junior, found some comfort in a place many Americans have turned to during these uncertain times: Netflix. “Joe Exotic and other fun series have brought the family together, and reassured us that as bad as things are, we are not as crazy as some others.” He also offers up this advice: “Wash your hands and rely on God for your answers — not the news.”

Carlyn Bushman, whose four children are recent USD graduates, noted that sometimes there are unexpected benefits to having a full house. “We had a dance party in our kitchen Saturday night at 1:30 am! They are keeping us young!”

Sharon Qualls, whose daughter, Julia is a junior, also has her niece, a USD graduate student, in the house. “On a positive note, we are enjoying making and eating meals together, playing games, and holding Zoom calls with extended family and friends,” she said. “We’ve also seen some interesting attire around the house. Our blue Snuggie blanket has become a very popular attire for our daughter (pictured above)! It’s Torero blue of course!”

Ann Marie Skalecki, whose son, George is a junior, got a bit philosophical. “We all know that the world will definitely be different once this is all over and a new digital age has begun,” she said. “This unknown has been good for bringing everyone together to help one another and care about everyone on such a different level. It is very good to bring people back to the simple things in life.“

Laurie Bradley, whose son, Joseph, is a senior, is also a proponent of finding fun in the midst of uncertainty. “Our family likes to play games, so we all joined a Zoom meeting and played bingo! We had relatives from Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles and San Diego get in on the fun!”

Julie Cohn, whose son, Nicholas, is a senior, has discovered a competitive streak. “Each weekend, we play an epic battle of Catan together. Thus far, Nicholas has won every round except one, but we are working hard to topple his Catan monopoly. With busy lives, we usually only have time for one game, then head back to our busy work schedules, but this time together amidst the craziness of life is a welcome reprieve.”

On a more serious note, Cohn notes that it’s important to look for the silver lining. In her particular case, she’s been impressed at how her son has juggled a full course load, senior honors thesis and helped transition the campus writing center to video conference tutoring needs to assist USD students.

“We are appreciative that the University of San Diego gave him not just academic knowledge, but the leadership skills he needs to succeed in life.”

And we at the University of San Diego deeply appreciate all the parents, families and students who are doing what they can to make the best of things — even when it sometimes feels as if our worlds have suddenly shrunk. — Julene Snyder

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