March 2020 – I went to the post office most days. I was careful to disinfect my hands, car door handle and steering wheel in case coronavirus hitched a ride home with me. I searched in vain for toilet paper. Ordered a case of 80 rolls from Staples. Watched the White House task force meetings, then watched the evening news twist or ignore what I heard with my own ears earlier in the day. My heart was full of grief for my mom, fear of the unknown and anger I couldn’t identify.
April 2020 – We began the great “purge” and started packing boxes. We had lengthy conversations about where we would go and what we would do when the craziness subsided. We bravely ventured out to the dump. Celebrated with Arby’s drive-thru and ate in the park. Later in the month my massive toilet paper order arrived. I’d forgotten about that. Now we had too much. But really, can you ever have too much toilet paper?
I wasn’t fearful of the virus by April. Rather, I was fearful of the ease with which Americans, myself included, gave up freedom. Why couldn’t we live with a virus using common sense and good hygiene? How did a health issue become a political issue so quickly?
May 2020 – Our kitchen sink exploded so we had a plumber come by to fix it. It was pleasant to have another person in the house. He brought his apprentice and we had a lovely conversation. In May we also had some of our family in for dinner. Since we’re in that “advanced age” category, TV news said we should be more careful, but I’m telling you the honest to goodness truth, there’s no way we will not hug our kids and share a meal. Humans are meant to connect – – and I don’t mean over Zoom.
June 2020 – With nothing better to do, I created my Facebook avatar. As soon as the salons opened, I got my for real hair cut. We drove our pick-up truck to my sister’s place in California, delivering furniture and mementos belonging to our deceased mother. We had a yard sale. We interviewed realtors. They toured our house and property. I had an epiphany about the evening news… they are not paid to tell the truth. They are paid to tell a story. I was more hopeful in June. More determined. More diligent in seeking “the rest of the story” in news sources.
July and August 2020 – We had four yard sales. Our house was busy with electricians and painters. Family helped us fix, stack, sort and throw away stuff. We took a day trip to Wildlife Safari with two sons, their wives and five grandchildren. We found hundreds doing the same, masked and socially distanced, of course. We flew from Oregon to Georgia to make a decision on a house. Amazingly, we found Atlanta Airport almost as busy as we remembered, businesses open, our grandson back in for real, in person school and back at wrestling practice. Two months later, he still is. We listed our house for sale. I was hopeful and encouraged.
September, onward – We welcomed our son home from a year long deployment in the middle east. We attended family gatherings. Realtors and prospective buyers tour our house.
I am well acquainted with disease, compromised immune systems and death. I take this pandemic seriously. But more serious to me is living a meaningful life.
As I watch Americans argue over masks and which infectious disease expert is to be believed over another, I wonder how anyone will know when it’s safe to step outside and live their one and only life. Will the word of a particular politician, celebrity or news anchor be required? How will you know?
Politics has drawn this pandemic into its ugly vortex. The media ramps up the fear. Should we even celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas this year? I have a few thoughts on that…