That’s what you get for thinking.

I honestly thought my “golden years” were going to be filled with good times with my family, taking care of the grand kids, going to ballgames, dances, and school functions with the little grandkids and their parents. I think being around the family and doing things with them was my ultimate goal. It was because of them that I came through four bypasses in 2010. At one point in the first couple of days, the pain was so bad I thought I just wanted to let go. But my wife and my kids….they gave me a reason to go on. I went through a long recovery and only started to really exercise, walk, and watch my weight in late 2004. I wanted to live a few more years. Was that being selfish? I didn’t think so at the time. I was on Ancestry a lot during those years and I saw where a lot of my ancestors died pretty young. Got to be about 60 years old and “BOOM” Gone. It was only through the work of the medical and scientific communities that they actually had a method by the time I needed it to “patch me up” enough to keep on living. I appreciate it so very much. I appreciate what those doctors and nurses did for me. I appreciate my family helping me hold on. I’m thankful to them all.

But…back to the “golden” years. I “thought” that things would go on as they always have. Work most of the year, take a couple of weeks a year off….go on a vacation with the family. Be around the kids, and help with them. Do my “trade day” thing every couple of weeks or so. Go out to eat at Logan’s or one of our other favorite spots on Saturdays. Cracker Barrel on Sunday. All that stuff. Ordinary stuff. To me it was just “every day” life. Taking that “every day” life for granted was a big mistake. Look at where we all are now. Not just us, me and the wife….but all of the Grandma and Grandpa’s out there who love their families and want to be with them, to see them and be around them. To love and sometimes fuss over them. To live our lives “normally”. All of you my friends.

But now, there is no “normal” like that anymore. Only the new normal. The quarantine normal. The self isolation. (and thank God for my wife who keeps me sane) normal. “Thought you were going to glide on through those golden years, huh?” I can hear Tarp Bowers’s voice in my head. “Well that’s what you get for thinking”. And….honestly he’s right.

How did I dare assume that there would be a continued normalcy? What gall on my part. I’ve been warning people about stuff like this for years, and it turns out that I didn’t pay attention to my own warnings. “Mother Earth will get us back, “ I said. I never expected the nasty, evil stealth of this disease that has hit us though. I never expected anything which could separate human beings so totally from their natural tendency to be the social animals we have evolved into. A sickness that has never, ever been inside a human body before in the entire history of all humanity.

Now, I look up at the window and talk to my granddaughters Evie and Ellie…and their Daddy, through a screen 10 ft away. I talk to my youngest son while he’s up on the deck and I’m way down below. I await “drive bys” from my daughter and her family….my oldest son and his family. I haven’t seen my first granddaughter since Christmas? Watched my second granddaughter who’s graduating from college this year get married via phone video. The new normal. Yet, I am lucky. I am so, so very lucky. I can still do these things. I still have hope that our family unit will all get through these hard times all in one piece, so that we may come together….all together again.

It could be much worse. The kind of bad you see on TV every night now.

Daddy used to look at me at times like these and say: “Alright, quit feeling sorry for yourself”. I’m not really. It’s just that this new normal is so abnormal for me. I’m hunkered down now, and resigned to staying put for a long spell. I’m learning new things, and relearning old ones. I’m storing up hugs, tears, and love for the day I’ll be able to use them again. I hope and pray that it will be soon for all of us.

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