Keep calm, carry on and stay six feet apart.

Bad enough that the months since Christmas have been dreary, at least in our area. Bad enough that Peter was sick several times during that period with a combination of problems. Bad enough that laughs were scarce.  Bad enough that in these nearly three months I haven’t been able to write a single post.

All that is just too much oh woe, poor me, poor us when the COVID-19 virus has the entire world in its clutches.

The facility where Peter lives is closed to visitors now and I’ve isolated myself except for my morning walks and occasional visits with friends outside and six feet apart. Thanks to Mark, Peter’s companion, we were able to Face Time once before Mark, too, was barred from going to the facility, as were other companions. Peter has never liked to talk on the phone, so talking to me remotely while looking at my face was almost too much for him. “Where are you?” he asked again and again. I’ve talked to him on the phone once since, thanks to Brandy, one of the nurses. He laughed when I explained I couldn’t visit. I doubt he misses me except, perhaps, for my skill at making tea just the way he likes it.

As last month headed towards its once-every-four years extra day finale I came to believe that maybe we, Peter and I, had “had it good” for too long. His October hospitalization slowed him noticeably and he has remained that way ever since. The second and third episodes in January and early February, a combination of terrible cold and UTI, slowed him further. His behavior was extremely erratic,  his already dementia-confused state, far worse

All bad enough to cause my own brain to stall. My muse and I needed something to laugh about.

“Happy 81st,” I wrote in Peter’s birthday card.

I am not eighty-one!” he said, as I knew he would.

He was right though! He had not turned eighty-one — February 26 was his eighty-second birthday! I laughed at my mistake, but he didn’t. Actually, I’m the one who’ll soon be eighty-one and that’s no laughing  matter to me.

I’d fixed his favorite meal—sausages, mashed potatoes and kale—and it was apparent his appetite, at least, was just fine. He had seconds of everything, plus a big chunk of carrot cake. When he opened his presents from Leslie and Martin, two knit shirts, he tried to give me one. Out of sympathy that I was soon to be eighty-one, I wondered?  I gave him a large jigsaw puzzle of the world. It was for kids really, with large pieces and colorful graphics. When he worked on it he was able to summon up a long ago maths lesson with no problem. Even with the correct puzzle pieces in hand for given spaces, he often had them turned the wrong way ’round. When I told him to turn a piece 45 degrees, or 90, he knew exactly what I meant.

Several months prior to all this, Peter had, for the most part, stopped stripping his room while inventing creative ways to pack up his belongings. No more handkerchiefs jammed in the toothbrush case, no more socks hidden in puzzle boxes, no more pairs of trousers stuffed with all his shirts and underwear. A good thing.

The laundry service had delivered his clean clothes just before I arrived one day not too long ago. I opened his closet to put his things away. It was empty except for one shirt and a tennis ball on a hanger.  Laugh? Yes I did!

 

Header photo: Peter, 82 years and two days, works his birthday puzzle.

 

 

2016 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ contest finalist. 

10 thoughts on “Keep calm, carry on and stay six feet apart.

  1. I’m Judith too… but prefer Judy. It seems that’s a name for those of us of a certain age. I’ll soon be 81 and want you to know I look forward to your posts and send you both strength and virtual hugs.

    Judy Mathys
    SeLand, Florida

    Sent from my iPhone

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    • Thanks, Judy. I’m called Judy too but Judith sounds more ‘grown up’ these days. Thanks for your kind remarks. Love a virtual hug too.

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  2. So good to hear from you again Judith! So sorry to hear of Peter’s medical trevails the past several months and of the “new normal” for you both. You’ll be in my thoughts as we all deal with this pandemic. As you’ve said, the ability to laugh may be our best medicine! Alice

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