Thursday, January 21, 2021

Life as we knew it

| July 19, 2020 1:00 AM

A coworker and I were taking a short walk on Wednesday in the Inter Lake neighborhood to refresh and regroup, and were mulling over the news of the day. The governor had just issued his directive mandating masks and we chatted about how that would affect the newspaper and our own lives.

It’s difficult to have a conversation these days without COVID-19 creeping in at some point, and it’s understandable. The pandemic has affected all of us on varying levels. It’s changed how we navigate stores and how we gather, or not, with one another. Most events have been canceled, so we’ve found other ways to fill our spare time, be it kayaking, hiking or binge-watching Netflix.

We lament our losses. Life as we knew it seems to have evaporated, at least for now.

As my friend and I walked along we saw a group of children playing on a trampoline, delighting in the spray from a sprinkler on that hot afternoon with not a care in the world. It instantly sparked memories from my coworker’s childhood, as she fondly recalled how she would wile away her days at the local swimming pool and spent many hours at a neighborhood community center, partaking of whatever activities they offered.

As I listened, I realized our childhoods couldn’t have been more different. She grew up in the Ohio suburbs; I grew up on a Minnesota dairy farm.

The first childhood memory that surfaced for me, for whatever reason, was our rock-picking excursions with Dad. He’d haul me and my two older brothers out to the same fields each summer to pick rocks. Plowing the fields would inevitably turn up a new “crop” of rocks that had worked their way to the surface.

This was not a fun job by any means. It was hot, sweaty work, but there were two rewards. Mom would bring out bologna and Miracle Whip sandwiches and ice-cold lime Kool-Aid, and at the very end of the day, after the cows had been milked, Dad would drive us over to Silver Lake for an evening swim. In my mind, it didn’t get any better than that. If only life were that simple again.

Each one of us is contemplating how our futures will play out amid this pandemic and extraordinary time in our lives. Will one of our loved ones succumb to COVID?

My mother so far has survived the rampant outbreak of COVID at her nursing home, but it’s taken a toll. She doesn’t know us anymore, and when my brother, masked up, visited her last week at the facility’s outdoor patio and they sat six feet apart, Mom gazed off into the distance for the most part, in what he called “a thousand-yard stare.” He texted a photo of her and it brought me to tears.

My younger daughter, son-in-law and their 4-year-old daughter are in the throes of moving to Houston, where my scientist son-in-law has accepted a post-doc position at the Baylor College of Medicine. He’s going ahead to start his job in early August while my daughter and granddaughter, and their two dogs, stay with us for a few weeks as they try to navigate the housing market there.

If there weren’t enough to worry about this summer, watching your kids move to a COVID hotspot like Texas is a big concern. There are times when I am close to “freaking out” about this, but then I remind myself that what will be, will be, and no amount of worrying will change it.

So how are we to carry on in this unprecedented, volatile time? We nurture one another with kindness and compassion; there’s really no other way we’re going to get through this. If we’re believers in God, we pray harder than ever for protection of our loved ones.

Perhaps my flashback to picking rocks is a metaphor for these times. We hoist up each heavy obstacle in our way; we clear the path as best we can and keep going. Life’s challenges, like those rocks ever working their way to the surface, will always keep cropping up, so we go boldly into the future knowing somehow we’ll carry on.

News Editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or