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World Enough and Time: Maintaining

Bill Hagen
Contributing writer

Still at it?  

Still alive?  (You’re reading this.)  More moody?  Basic routines intact?

We are alive, though perhaps thinking of final things.  As an elder, I wonder: Are my records in order?  Will my son be able to locate the accounts?  Will he simply dump the grandparents’ flowery china (which he has never seen used)?  Will my cat be cared for?  Will he still have the huge windows he prefers?

I read that some teachers in Iowa (one of my favorite states) are preparing for face-to-face classrooms by writing their obituaries.

Not a bad idea, especially for teachers.  I worry and worry about the ones I know.  Pray too.

Maybe not a bad idea for the rest of us.  Who knows us better than we know ourselves?  If we do it ourselves, maybe we can avoid some of the soppy language our mourning offspring might insert.  Or if you want to turn your obituary into a Praise Song, go ahead.

Yes, of course we are more moody!  Weren’t we promised it would be over by now?  The U.S. has the best health system in the world.  Surely...  (Finger-pointing time.)

We are like a country under occupation by a foreign power.  Restrictions with consequences for those who don’t adapt.

Some who chafe at adapting are really the collaborators in our midst.  Spread the good news!  Mix with whomever you want, party, go maskless, breathe deeply!  They perpetuate the Occupation.  

In an earlier column, I suggested there’s a selfish, uncaring aspect to such behavior.  A Calvinist friend wants to go online with his idea, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Blog.”

And routines.  In retirement, I have a small group of friends with whom I go maskless, though keeping some distance.  I want to restrict their contacts outside the group, which creates some worry. Phone calls, email, Facebook interactions with a larger group.  Music of all kinds, from FM radio to Prime albums through my earphones.  Some tv, newspapers...and books, often read with a sleeping cat within reach.

OK, the front yard, the backyard, the views they offer and their upkeep.  Neighbors, kids on bikes, birds, stray cats, one bunny.  Actually, I feel lucky.

All chaser, no gin?

One looks for breaks in the routine, to make life more interesting.  Sometimes I actually mow my lawn or bail out my fallout shelter.  An unexpected check for 58 cents from Walgreen’s, sent First Class, provides a moment of humor.  As does my sister’s forwarding an opinion piece that urges drinking lots of tonic water since quinine is at the heart of Trump’s favorite C19 drug.  But I’m not sure I want to drink all the gin or rum needed to give the tonic some flavor.

Humor always helps, but we seem to be running short.  My Nashville friend is now sending me jokes and photos that have nothing to do with the virus.  

This week I’ll try to make it to Shawnee Lake to view the expected meteor shower, if the clouds will only lift.  Maybe I’ll risk eating out, after consulting the Facebook posts at Shawnee Masked and Unmasked.  Simply riding around town, windows open, in the cool of the evening, has its rewards.  

Next Thursday, maybe there will be poetry at the Lunch Box.  It lifts the spirit to hear folks who can write in rhythm.

An unexpected gift

Wait!  A ring of the doorbell and a sack with homemade bread hanging on the storm door!

And here I was trying to feel sorry for myself.

Persevere, and be thankful for good friends and neighbors.

Bill Hagen is a retired OBU professor. He lives in Shawnee with his cat. Contact him at