By late February, 2020, the idea of a global pandemic” started registering with me at a level that could not be talked down or ignored in the sea of busy that has always filled my life.
As the days ticked by and heavy statistics rolled in during the first two weeks of March, confirmation came that the two trips planned to Portland in March and Seattle in April, would simply not happen. I suspected then, that life “as we knew it” was about to change.
As distance learning consumed education and toilet tissue became harder to find, I grasped as much as one could at that point, just what it may take to flatten the curve. I found it difficult to hold on to “normal.”
Eventually the “distanced mode” peeled back layers of built up thoughts. Deep in my psyche, a memory from the time of my mother’s death in 1990, found its way to the surface. The siblings had gathered to start the process of going through the family home. We were all shocked over the very large freezer filled to the brim with food, as if a family of seven and many times more were still being fed. Large quantities of plastic margarine dishes were stacked with care for that unsuspecting time when one might need such. There was also plenty of toilet tissue.
My parents were born into a world filled with the fear of the Spanish Flu. The Great Depression had changed their “normal” when Daddy and Mother were respectively, early late twenties and late teens. Polio had also raised its head in the Dyre home, inflicting, for a time, my brother Arnold with the crippling disease.
The plan took shape as I recalled my daddy’s words to me, “Mary Jo, you would have made a good Depression survivor, for you love pinto beans and cornbread.” My three “older” siblings posed a major concern during this time. All have active lives, two live alone and social distancing could take its toll. The answer came quickly: a daily “virtual cocktail hour.” Because my three sisters can make even the easiest task difficult, it took a little effort to get them to understand that we would have to make concessions since we live the gamut from Eastern to Pacific Time Zones. The idea finally solidified, when they fell for, “Hey, Sisters, it’s 5:00 somewhere!”
March to April, the Covid19 numbers were growing in my rural mountain world. But “virtual cocktail hour” for the four Dyre girls was working. In the midst of appealing cocktails and delicious evening menus, jokes became a regular.
As we moved into the mask wearing phase of this pandemic, my sister Pat shared a You-Tube video of a woman who very cleverly created an effective face mask out of a pair of women’s panties. (https://youtu.be/AfZ3NzMcs4c) What we three sisters could not fathom is that our sister Pat was able to send the mask instructions without adding a couple of “indeed Pat” OCD details such as: It is recommended that 1) “new” panties be used or 2) if panties are “used,” wash first in very hot water.
Then it happened. I pulled into the grocery store parking lot, ready to hit the isles that were guaranteed, at this early hour, to be as empty as some of the shelves. I reached for my pink protective gloves. But where is my mask? Surely, I can make it through a quick shopping stint without running into any of those dang droplets. The situation unfolded over on that next to the last isle. I only cut through all the pet food section so I could quickly grab some yogurt. He came around the corner coughing and sneezing like crazy. Of course, he was not wearing a mask either.
Stopped dead in my tracks still well over 15 feet away from him, the easy details of Pat’s video came back to me. Thankfully I was wearing a skirt, for time was of the essence. Off in a hurry and inside out could work, right? I am fairly certain the leopard Soma design was so distracting that no one even recognized me as I finished my shopping.
April 17, 2020