October 4, 2020 — Earlier in the week, I walked into our kitchen in the afternoon to find my husband in his pajamas, eating lunch. I wore the pink flannel nightgown I had slept in the night before. Two p.m. I noticed that husband Herman was eating clam chowder out of a saucepan.
“We’ve completely deteriorated as human beings,” I said, “We’ve become animals.”
Herman said, “I did this because it’s one less dish for you to wash.”
Honestly, I couldn’t argue with that.
We’ve now been in quarantine since March 6. Eight months? A hundred months? What day is it? Who am I? How did we get here? And like my life in 2020, there’s no narrative arc in this piece, just some ramblings and observations from where we are. We both fall into the high risk category. He’s the shopper. I only go out to doctor or dentist.
I know that I am beyond fortunate to have a roof over my head with enough space that my Beloved and I don’t drive each other crazy. He is now fully retired, having completed his 32-year-career at a local university. And just in time, as the chaos of the world hits everyone, including small, private universities that struggled before the pandemic. Herman has an online antiques business (www.randysgallery.com) and it keeps him busy enough that I get the free time I’ve learned to appreciate since my retirement three years ago this month.
We are cautious, but this week we made a six-hour round trip to a park in Greencastle, Indiana, to meet my father, my father’s girlfriend, and my baby brother. We had not seen them since January 11th when we celebrated my brother’s 60th birthday and retirement. My Dad will be ninety in December, God-willing. In the months since we’ve seen Dad, he is more frail and his short-term memory is somewhat diminished. But we’ve been quantaintining and he has been doing the same, so we enjoyed two of the best (masked) hugs a father and daughter could enjoy. I cannot find words to express how joyful it was to see him. He cried when we left, and my heart hurt. But I am exceedingly grateful that my brother drove them to the park.
Even on a Tuesday in the middle of October when the park wouldn’t be crowed, I made sure we had shelter. I rented a shelterhouse. There was a sign on the shelter that MY NAME had reserved it.. But when we arrived there were about 10 or 12 elderly women having a Bible Study. Oh, this could be delicate. What would Jesus do? Jesus would kick them out, as I did. Actually, I gave them the option to stay in the large shelter. But, they left almost immediately. Was it the way I looked? I wore my hot pink Heidi hat, the one with two braids that I bought in Iceland. I had on clip-on, pop-up sunglasses on my purple, rhinestone-laden, new cateye glasses, fingerless, arthritis gloves, and an oxygen tank strapped to my back.
This time, and possibly henceforth, I was wearing appropriate Foundation Garments. Now, you must be a woman of a certain age to get what I’m saying here. This is what your mother or grandmother call a bra. Women of a certain age and of a certain size called it a Foundation Garment. It’s what keeps The Girls of a certain age in line, shall we say.
I have known to refer to my rack as the “boobal region.” For most of my incarceration in suburbia, I have gone without Said Foundation Garment, and this has caused unfortunate consequences. I am now back wearing the blasted thing which keeps The Girl in their rightful place, because of the following event.
Last week I went into the kitchen to make a simple turkey and cheese sandwich with mayonnaise. I put two slices of bread on a plate and covered one piece with mayonnaise. On the other side, I placed a piece of Swiss cheese and turkey breast. I reached over the sandwich fixings to take out a handful of green grapes to eat with my lunch. At that moment, I created a work of art so fine that Jackson Pollock would likely rave about it.
The creation was a result of my not wearing what I should be wearing and something on the counter that shouldn’t be on the counter.
I have learned my lesson. I’m moving forward, my career as an artist over.
All three of these incidents happened earlier in the week. Every day I’ve sworn I was going to write about them. But in this universe of horror, time flies by so quickly and escapes me. Today, I said, today is the day, but as someone who wears oxygen for pulmonary issues, I got all caught up in the story about whether POTUS had dips in oxygen. It’s not often this is talked about and I was interested. It made me wonder what my daytime oxygen was, so I checked it and it was 89. Damn, I thought, that’s pretty bad considering I’m on three liters of oxygen. I did my pursed-lipped breathing and I checked it again, and it was only 92. Then I started to get upset and worried about it.
At my last visit, my pulmonologist increased me from 2 to 3 liters. These numbers were freaking me out. I went out into the kitchen to check on a stew I’m making for dinner. I passed Big Tanko (the 40-lb machine that I’m tethered to in the house) and noticed THAT HE WAS NOT TURNED ON. Yes, this is a cautionary tale. I am slowly losing my mind, but I’m fully dressed, oxygen saturation at 99% (just checked in) and grateful that those are my biggest problems. -30-