Focus On The Griffiths Family: Facing Challenges Head On

The Griffiths family found their home in Westport 5 years ago, having immigrated to Connecticut from Cape Town, South Africa, 11 years ago. Dad, Warren, is a Global Media Investment President at Publicis Media, a road warrior who spends a lot of his work time traveling globally. His wife, Mariet, is the Marketing Director at Westport Museum and mom to second grader Sadie and Staples sophomore Sydney.  

“We have faced much adversity, and challenges in our nomadic lives,” says Warren. “and we have always faced them head on. There is no doubt that this is one of the biggest challenges we have ever faced as a family, however we are an extremely positive family, pragmatists at heart, and lean into headwinds. Mariet has been incredible, as she marshals our homelife, home schooling the kids, work and keeping everything on track. The mothers are the real family superheroes during these challenging times! 

All of our direct family are based overseas in South Africa and the UK, and being so far from loved ones can be very scary at times, especially now with all travel restrictions but we remind ourselves constantly that we are fortunate to live in a first world country where information, medical support, and leadership structures are strong, to effectively fight these kinds of threats.  

Like everyone, we have fully integrated our working and school lives into home school and virtual work. I’m no longer spending time at airports, planes and boardrooms in different corners of the planet, and 100% of the time at home now. Video conferencing and virtual tools have become the new normal. I tend to be putting many more productive hours into my day since I have no commute times, but there is a challenge in that the work-life barrier has become a bit fuzzy.  

A positive side effect is that we are spending so much more wonderful time, video-chatting and reconnecting with friends, family and loved ones across the globe and we are spending so much more quality time with the family over (full attendance) meals, long put off chores around the house finally being checked off, evening walks and bike rides around the neighborhood (keeping safe distances) and teaching our 8-year-old how to ride a bike, while our 16-year-old learns to skateboard. 

What I see around us on a town level has been a mix of fear and responsible community actions. There is a definite underlying stress and apprehension around “what happens next?”, and “how bad is it going to get?”, but also a wonderful coming together and camaraderie, as neighbors offer to help neighbors, and the sharing of information and experiences is everywhere. 

My hope is that this disease will be short lived, and will not negatively impact our community too dramatically, that we learn positive new life skills through these challenges, and that we learn to value time and loved ones more.   

The silver lining in this pandemic is that it has slowed down the manic minute-by-minute nature of modern life, allowing us to appreciate each other more, and take a deep breath. My fear is that the disease continues long enough to leave a deep permanent scar on our lives and community or that someone we know and love might get very ill.

The silver lining … is that it has slowed down the manic minute-by-minute nature of modern life, allowing us to appreciate each other more, and take a deep breath.

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