The title of today’s article is only misleading in that it would lead you to believe it is solely about me. Actually I am using myself to illustrate what many Americans have been through for the last year – and we are the more fortunate ones. In some ways this is a time capsule article if I ever wrote one.
Tons of people have written their “one year in the pandemic articles” over the past few days. It was about this time a year ago that I, like most prudent Americans, started to take the pandemic very seriously and altered my life. I use St. Patrick’s Day as my anniversary because it is both easy to remember and when I serious altered my life. That morning, as this morning, I met with my PCP (medical acronym for Primary Care Provider) for a routine checkup. When I came home I basically confined myself to quarters for months.
On a personal note, I’d do better if I followed Cathy’s advice more rigorously. (I don’t due to my shortcomings, among them laziness, laxity, carelessness and still having a bit of that foolish youthful feeling of invincibility – sorry Cathy!) We knew a lot less about COVID-19 then than we do today but Cathy left me with nine prudent words of advice that I heeded religiously, “Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands.” In the interim we have learned that this particular virus doesn’t survive on surfaces as well as we thought it did a year ago but I still credit the frequent hand washing with keeping my wife and myself free of common colds and who knows what else. It sure didn’t hurt any!
As time went on I have ventured out a bit more often but I have practiced social distancing and mask wearing. Hand sanitizer is a fixture in my car. Being retired I have more opportunities for social distancing than many of my fellow Americans. On the rare occasions I visit a store (I still remember my trepidation on my first trip to my local Lowe’s – they did an excellent job of protecting both customers and staff) I am very targeted, do not really shop and watch my surroundings. I keep shopping trips short, to a bare minimum and use light customer traffic hours.
I went several months without a professional haircut. Thankfully one of my stepdaughters is a bit skilled in that area and by the time she got to my hair it was “college length” for the first time in many decades. One day my barber called me (she is the first friend I made when I moved to North Carolina) and told me she had reopened with prudent precautions in place. As always she was telling me the truth and I’ve resumed my monthly visits to her. We both do everything prudent and possible to protect each other.
In February I received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine – age was an advantage again. Having subsequently received my second I’m within days of the two weeks after the second shot “all clear”.
The only visits I have made that are by any stretch risky have been on a few occasions to my local independent bookseller. Much of the staff and certainly the owners have become friends. They have taken every conceivable precaution to keep themselves and their customers safe. They consistently exceed mandated guidelines erring on the side of caution even when I know it has cost them sales. My book club meetings have been on Zoom and the one live event I attended was held outdoors (North Carolina has wonderful daytime weather the vast majority of winter days) where live attendance was extremely limited even then with socially distant seating.
The thing I have miss the most surprised me. I really miss occasionally going out to breakfast with my wife. Nothing fancy, just hopping in the car and hitting a local restaurant for eggs or an omelet with more “trimmings” than either of us needs.
Other than a wild mutation of the virus that goes beyond our control, my biggest fear is that collectively we “take our foot off the brake” too soon. In a matter of a few days I may be as safe as science can make me but that is still not invincible. It does not absolve me of my responsibility to my fellow man. I intend to continue to take all the prudent actions I have recently.
I look at our current situation much like I did a sizeable lead late in the game back in my coaching days. It is OK to pull the starters but it is way too early to walk off the court. I intend to do my part – admittedly as a retired senior citizen in good health it is easier for me than most – I just hope the vast majority of those I share this planet with do the same.
The last year has had more than its share of negatives and I had to think twice before I did (or didn’t) do many things. The bottom line is that those closest to me and I have all lived to tell the tale.
In closing a Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all; my readers of Irish decent and those who only pretend to be on this special day.
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