During the worst time of our lives we find there are many things to be grateful for and to appreciate. Too much bad news can be found on the television, so we’ve tried to focus on the good things.

My fears for our paramedic son and our grandchildren who need a safe world in which to thrive could consume me, but that would benefit no one. Missing our Sunday church services leaves a huge hole in our week, but the online services give us a new way to worship.

Focusing on the reality of this awful pandemic has become more than our hearts and minds can bear. Medical supply shortages, body bags on back order, an Italian priest who died after giving a younger person the respirator his parishioners bought for him, the anticipating the grief of being stricken and perhaps losing a life’s mate, children left without parents, elderly loved ones dying alone — all could drive us mad.

So, we try to call three or four people a day we would not ordinarily be contacting. Friends from long ago, people at church, former neighbors, family — anyone whose voice we would like to hear. We have had the best time and laughed like mad when a beautiful “vintage” friend from church, who when my husband asked if she was staying out of trouble replied “Well, of course. All of the bars are closed!” Another dear vintage friend gave me a detailed accounting of the story of how she and her husband met and how much she didn’t like him at first, but they were ultimately married for many decades before he passed away. I’ll treasure this conversation forever.

We have activated our longtime favorite imaginary game called “What would we do if we won the lottery?” Well, that has come true as the federal government will soon send us $2,400. We are blessed to be in a position we can stay safe without using those funds for ourselves so we are planning on how to distribute some to causes or individuals we can best help, even in a small way. The joy of anticipating giving even a small amount of help to others lifts our spirits instantly.

Every other day we take a ride somewhere, whether we need to or not. Exciting places like the post office to drop mail in the outside box, the recycle center to recycle cans only to find the center is closed, the drive-through at the bank to make a deposit by using Lysol wipes to avoid touching the pneumatic tube container that holds the deposit, spending hours driving slowly for several miles on our road to pick up litter — all become exciting times.

Our greatest recent excitement occurred when we were certain we heard a mechanical voice from the kitchen scream “Stop, have mercy on me.” Imagine our surprise when we realized it was the dishwasher, which has cleaned more dishes in the past three weeks than ever before. Eating three meals a day at home, day in and day out, can create some unusual stresses, even among the machines of our lives.

Jigsaw puzzles take up many hours as we always go for the 1,000 piece hard ones. At 4 p.m. every day we try to sit together and read with no outside interference. Blocking annoying telephone call numbers on our phone gives us great joy. Next on our list is cleaning out our little greenhouse. Do you know how many aloe and jade plants one couple can accumulate by sticking every little sprig in dirt and then watching it grow? They multiply like rabbits.

Enough of my foolishness. I wanted to remind us all there are many things to celebrate, most of all long-time and new friends and family, whom we treasure more than we can explain.

Be safe, don’t take risks just to get something you think you need at the store, and find someone you can help, even if only with a note or phone call. We will come out on the other side of this changed in ways we may never understand, but with a greater appreciation for good health, each other and a safe place in which to live. Take care of all, even those we don’t know yet as friends. We never know when our paths will cross.

Susan D. Little


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