I was going to begin this column by saying “Happy Pandemic, everyone,” but I realize for some folks, these are anything but happy times.
I do hope your quarantine is going as smoothly and well as can be expected, and that, at the very least, you’ve been able to spend time with family during these surreal times.
I keep seeing posts on the internet and social media that we are all in this together, which is a nice sentiment, but doubt it’s entirely accurate. I have been a work-from-home person for more than 15 years, so, for me, things have been seamless, but the reality is, not everyone else has the blessing and luxury I have.
Having copious amounts of free time on our hands certainly has given us all the opportunity for reflection. I find a good deal of my own reflections have more to do with memories, rather than life-changing course directions. Uncertain times produce myriad memories as we hope to grasp the best of times from our past to get us through the stuff that is going on now.
I’ve spent more time lately thinking about my parents, both of whom are gone, but are always right on the edge of reality. My childhood memories are triggered by so many different things, from using Irish Spring soap to drinking Yuban coffee. I thought I had evolved beyond using both of those products, seeking fancier soaps that smelled like cookies or different coffee with their deep, dark, overpriced beans. But, at the end of the day, memories override status and I’m back to using both. Let’s face it, with a bar of Irish Spring in your hand, it truly is like taking a shower in Ireland.
Another blessing has been having my adult children home for the duration of the pandemic quarantine. My children live in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago which, as anyone who watches the news knows, is one of the hardest-hit areas of the country. Having them back home in the rural safety of La Salle County has reduced the stress I otherwise would have, on so many levels. We have binged-watched movie series together, started craft projects and, although it has not happened yet, dream and talk about a Yahtzee tournament. We have not attempted to make one of those pithy little videos in which we change the lyrics to a popular song to make it more timely, but, if this goes on much longer, I sense that somehow we will be redoing Meatloaf’s “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” referring to some of the new recipes we’re trying.
Speaking of meat loaf, anyone else constantly hungry?
It’s hard to imagine what going through this would look like without technology. Almost everything we do these days we are doing online. I hit about four churches every Sunday, which again is not new for me, but now I am getting different perspectives. From nondenominational to Presbyterian services, and even the occasional Mass, all types of worship have become part of my new daily walk of faith.
This week, I also will have my first virtual doctor’s appointment. My quarterly follow-up this time around will be done via FaceTime or Skype, not sure which, and will not involve any “hands-on” interaction. For people afraid of cold hands, this could be a game-changer.
Stay safe and healthy, my friends. None of us knows when this will end, but we actually are all in this together.
• Jonathan Freeburg is an Ottawa transplant for the last 25 years. Jonathan also is a regular contributor to 1430 WCMY Radio. His real job is insurance as a cover-holder for Lloyd’s of London.