In the Middle of a Pandemic

Many politicians are accusing other politicians of abject heartlessness in the middle of the pandemic.

Let’s face it: We are in the middle of a pandemic. In Michigan, we are in the eye of the hurricane. Our numbers are relatively low, although they are ticking back up due in part to congregating in schools and colleges. A few weeks ago, gyms starting opening up to reduced numbers. This week, theaters will open up. Also to limited capacity. We are likely to slow down again.

The real question is: What are we, the people, doing in the middle of the pandemic? And furthermore, do you have any plans for after the pandemic?

It’s been a great summer of weather in Michigan. Many people got out to visit nature, go to the park, go to outside events. Many in our community have taken advantage of the opportunity to visit family and friends.

In our household, we are quite careful and we avoid meeting with others in public places due to my husband’s cancer, which results in immune compromise. I also don’t want to come down with the virus. We wear masks whenever we will be in public with other people. We stay home most of the time. I am able to work from home most of the time.

This summer we were able to go fishing. We stayed at a remote cabin for a weekend. We watched TV and movies. In July our church started having a mask mandatory service, which helped us be more comfortable going to church. This fall our church will have a variety of opportunities for fellowship and service. We have signed up for a virtual hub (class), which will be by Zoom.

I’ve also felt a sense of inertia, boredom, and isolation. It seems like we are stuck. In our household, we don’t feel free to go to restaurants, to wander stores, go to movies. This just goes on and on. It seems endless. But the pandemic will end, with a vaccine and improved therapeutic treatment. In our marriage, we’ve had several lengthy periods of isolation and slowed activities due to health issues. I’ve found that it helps to make plans, however small, for the future.

So last week, I ordered crocuses. They will come up after the pandemic. Maybe I’ll get some tulips, too.

We rearranged our furniture in the living room so that my husband can put up the Christmas Tree. Christmas is his thing.

I am planning to go to two virtual writing conferences this fall for the sheer encouragement as I write my novel.

I’m thinking about perhaps getting some Christmas decorations for outside of the condo.

What are you doing in the middle of the pandemic? Are you making any plans for after the pandemic? Or even something in the next few months to look forward to?

Tired Of It

done with it.

overwhelmed by it.

sick of it, but not sick with it. Yet.

The corona virus storm has been threatening us for a while now.

Some say there hasn’t been a storm. Some say we’re over the worst of it. But I think we’re in the eye of the hurricane.

Some are coming out of their houses. Looking around, surveying the damage. Some pick up the pieces. Others have suffered no harm from the storm. They go to the beaches. They go out to eat. They are over it. So over it.

Others look out the window. Remembering the wind, the storm. They don’t think the storm is over. But they don’t go out. But make no mistake. They are over it, too.

Fishing on the Thornapple River

This is a picture rich with story. My mother asked my aunt Dutch to tell her how much she spent on cigarettes every week. My mother put that much money away for a year. She took that money and bought this great big tent. Behind me. She told me this weekend that they set this tent up underneath the tree. And it was very hard to set up. They tied the top of the tent to tree limbs above to keep it standing..

This is what I remember:

We camped in a farmer’s field next to the thornapple River. No electricity. no water hookup. Primitive camping. It was my mom and dad and my two brothers and my sister and me. My mom cooked everything on a campfire. It was a lot of work.

We had a borrowed boat and we all went fishing in the thornapple River. I remember my brother Mark catching a big fish. It was a lot of fun. The fish in this picture were mostly suckers. We ate them and they were delicious. My mom was a good cook. A very good cook

During one of the nights we were there, there was a very severe thunderstorm. I remember the loud thunder and the wind buffeting the tent. Looking up, I could see the flashes of lightning through the openings in the tent. I also remember the water seeping through the tent floor. Our sleeping bags got soaked. We hung them out to dry the next day.

Mom said this weekend then if she hadn’t tied the tent to the tree limbs above, it would have come down. (I think it’s probably very dangerous to do that during a severe thunderstorm.)

I don’t remember this picture being taken. But I apparently wasn’t too thrilled about holding that line of fish. I also wonder if this was the only picture they took during this camping trip.

What will they do with all our stuff

“Downsizing in the next few years is a precious gift Rick and I can give to our children.”

I wrote that statement in March 2014. Before Rick became disabled in October of that year. Before he was diagnosed with cancer in 2016.

At the time, my parents were in the process of moving back to our state from Florida to live with my brother. A trailer of their possessions had come up north with my mother in November. My siblings flew down to Florida to help my father pack their remaining stuff into a moving truck, and drive back here with him. My parents already had had three yard sales to reduce moving expenses.

We had spent so much effort thinking about our children’s future that we had forgotten to plan for our future as our lives were winding down. The thought of them being faced with what to do with our earthly possessions was deeply disturbing. I imagine them bewildered. The fact that our oldest daughter is on the autistic spectrum complicated the situation. Better to give it away before then, I thought, while we still have the strength and will.

Our old house was 1600 square feet, 2400 square feet if we counted the mostly unfinished basement. We were not hoarders, but we had accumulated a lot of stuff over the 21 years in that house, 31 years as a married couple. Our house had a lot of built in storage and extra little rooms. Putting something away and forgetting about it was the path of least resistance. Still, when I thought about cleaning it out and getting rid of what we no longer used, it felt like a huge mountain I couldn’t climb. I sometimes felt a sense of despair.

I kept putting off “now.” I was too busy. Life got in the way. My job, my children, and my husband took up the available energy.

However, when Rick was diagnosed with cancer in June 2016 and the doctors set him up to be evaluated for a bone marrow transplant, the need to make a change became urgent. We could no longer take care of our house. In fact, due to his disability, and the earlier all out effort to get our kids through college, our house was in poor condition. Neglected. Run down. A hundred year old house with an open grey water drain in the basement was no place for a man about to be severely immune compromised by a bone marrow transplant. That was what I thought at the time.

“What am I going to do?” I prayed while doing the laundry in the basement shortly after the diagnosis. I think God heard that prayer.

A week later, we were looking at a condominium in Kentwood. Two bedrooms, plus an extra room off the living room. 1,338 square feet. Our oldest daughter bought it and signed the mortgage papers five weeks later. People from our church and some in our extended family helped us move. We rented a large dumpster, and they helped us throw away over half of the stuff we had accumulated in 31 years of marriage. What had seemed like a mountain was whittled down with the help of friends and family. They threw away the accumulation. We gave away the rest. It was such a relief.

God uses even the hard things in our life to bless us. I often look back at the hard places in our lives and see that time as a time of great blessing, even though it was very stressful at the time. God is faithful.