Focus On: Cheryl Bliss

Cheryl Bliss has lived in Westport for 40 years. She moved here with her husband, Michael, and together they raised their three children Erin, Lindsay and Tim.  She was past-president of Westport Museum when it was Westport Historical Society. A professional banker turned educator she returned to the classroom after her husband’s unexpected death in 2005. Cheryl spent eight years on the Board of Education including serving as vice-chair and secretary. She was secretary of the Westport Women’s Club from 2017-2019. A trained archivist, Cheryl is also currently serving as Westport Museum’s chairperson. 

“I became vaguely aware of Corona Virus on February 26th when my brother who lives in town told me he was not going to commute into the city anymore. He was concerned about taking the subway to his job in midtown. I think I didn’t realize how serious it was until the schools were closed on March 11th.  

I think the biggest change in my daily life now is adjusting to a new lifestyle which basically focuses on staying in my house. It been hard adjusting to not doing things that I used to do on a regular basis. I have tried to establish a routine which focuses on walks, getting coffee, limited trips to a grocery store or pharmacy. I think not seeing my children who live within an hour of Westport has been an adjustment. I have seen two of them recently but they stayed outside of the house. My daughter, Erin, is a surgeon at Hartford Hospital who has had to work on COVID patients from time to time. When she does, she has to wear something like a space suit.    

I retired from the field of education four years ago. So, now my focus is on volunteering in the community and helping take care of my three granddaughters in Westchester. Of course, that has come to a standstill with COVID-19. I am an alternate member of a commission in Westport which has cancelled in-person meetings. My granddaughters have adjusted to my not being with them as their parents are working out of the house now. 

I have had contact within town by walking in my neighborhood, talking on the phone or seeing [people] at the pharmacy or grocery store. From what I can see the people seem to be coping. Because they are older, my friends especially, are trying to abide by the restrictions as established. 

I think losing my husband suddenly 15 years ago turned me into a person who can survive anything. It gave me the tools necessary to put up day after day with this new lifestyle. I know I am strong enough to cope with this crisis because I have already been challenged.  

I think my greatest fear is that many people are not going to survive this crisis either with the loss of a loved one or financial ruin. I think so many people were not prepared for something like this. My greatest hope is that maybe this crisis will make us come together as a country. I think the country as a whole has been divided for so long on so many levels. Maybe people who survive this crisis will develop a tolerance towards those who they don’t accept.” 

I know I am strong enough to cope with this crisis because I have already been challenged. 

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To read more of the museums long lens oral histories please visit the Westport In Focus page.