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Life in the time of the Pandemic

   I’ve never been very good on the telephone.  Teenage girls are supposed to spend lots of time on the phone, but I never really saw the point of that.  Of course, that was long before the era of cell phones attached to the hand, but still—And I’ve long known that I have difficulty understanding what people are saying or thinking unless I can see their faces.  Actually, sometimes I think that I make people nervous when I seem to be staring at them when they talk.  But, evidently, I hear best with my eyes.

   What I’m aiming toward, of course, is that I hate masks.  When I run into someone at Shaw’s or the dump, our only outings, I don’t recognize them, and they probably think I am rude.  I guess I should give hearty greetings to everyone—covering both friends and strangers.

   I find it particularly difficult when watching newly elected political figures on TV who are wearing masks.  I have to work hard to follow what they are saying, and I very much want to hear about what direction they are hoping to steer the country.

   So what do we do during the pandemic?  We stay home, without masks and try to pretend that things are normal.  I sometimes put a skirt on for virtual church, which I know can’t be seen, but makes me feel better.  I put on earrings so my earlobes don’t close up.  I call friends and family and don’t talk about Covid or politics.  We sit by the fire with a glass of wine—alone together—and make plans for the future.

   However, Jon challenged me to talk about losses and gains from the pandemic, so here goes:  Let me say, first, that Frank and I have been fortunate not to have lost any family or friends to Covid, for which we are very grateful.

-The sense of not being in control of my life, which was probably magical thinking anyway;
-Not feeling safe to hop in the car and indulge in some retail therapy or to eat out at a favorite restaurant;
-Not being able to run down to CT to see our children, our adult grandchildren and delightful, brilliant great-grandchildren;
-Missing Thanksgiving and Christmas with the family.  We hope to have Christmas with them on Easter, if we are lucky;
-Being frustrated by having to learn about new digital purchases that come without written directions!  Actually, I guess I can’t blame that on Covid;
-I miss going to OPC and catching up with people;
-I even miss going to meetings and catching up with people;
-I miss not being able to pretend any longer that I am too busy to organize the storage room, closets and cupboards;
-And, occasionally, I mourn the sense of having close to a year of my life cut down to basics only—when there are not as many years left as there used to be.

   Airing any of these complaints makes me feel guilty, and I remind myself how lucky Frank and I are and what we are grateful for:

-Our family is doing well and contacts us every few days.  They Zoom and Facetime and put pictures and videos on Facebook;
-We have each other—to comfort, to share thoughts and ideas with, to laugh with and, thanks to Susan Haefner on Friday night, to dance with!  One might think that after 62 years we might have already shared most of the ideas and thoughts that we will ever have.  Not true, they keep coming;
-We are grateful to be living in a comfy, warm house in a beautiful state with a lovely view out our windows;
-We are grateful to have good neighbors who we enjoy sharing favorite dishes with, from a distance;
-We are grateful to be able to rely on the young men who quickly plow and shovel us out after every snowfall;
-We are grateful that we are able to buy food and pay our bills;
-We are grateful that we live where good medical care is available—whether for Covid or other health problems.

   We were both brought up in the Northeast, and we have always known that many parts of the country do not enjoy the same kind of education, job opportunities, medical care and justice systems that the Northeast offers.

   In time, when I look back on the pandemic, I think I will remember most of all how this year strongly illuminated the stresses and strains that exist for many people in this country—the lack of adequate education, justice and health care, the lack of jobs that pay a living wage, the homeless,, the many, many people who were just about managing before the pandemic, and lastly, the many who have chosen to believe a narrative that separates us from each other.

   There are so many wonderful things about our lives that we have taken for granted – we hope to try to do better when this is over.

   Vaccine on Wednesday—meanwhile , we are counting our blessings.


                                                                    Ann Wingate



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