Straining at the Leash

Things I’m Good and Ready to Resume

[when that’s finally allowed again]

By Jeff Salter

DISCLAIMER: It’s beyond the scope of this column to parse exactly how much more “risk” to overall health and safety is the CoVid-19 (and its mutating strains)… than were previous pandemics — such as the H1N1 “Swine” Flu of 2009-10, which were handled (at least here in America) with considerably LESS drastic measures and requirements. Please note: I’m not debating whether stricter measures were or were not justified for this newest pandemic — I’m merely observing that the reactions / restrictions (from governmental entities at ALL levels) have been considerably different in this current crisis.

And it’s those differences – mandates handed down from CDC, through Governors and local political leaders – which have formed the restrictions that have made some of our citizens chafe. Again – please re-read this disclaimer – I’m NOT focusing this column on WHETHER these measures are justified… I’m simply noting that our current pandemic is attended with vigorous restrictions on gatherings, businesses, shopping, dining, schooling, and just about everything else. [And this is the first time in about 100 years that we’ve faced these type widespread restrictions.]

I’ve only laid out that background to explain how I FEEL about those experiences which have NOT been possible during these 10 months (or so) that we’ve so-far journeyed through our current pandemic. In particular, this week’s topic involves things that I’d want to do again… once it’s declared “safe” to resume normal activities.

The three restricted (or eliminated) activities which have most impacted me are these which were among my regular weekly schedule prior to mandated shutdowns:

* I have not been able to visit my mom in the nursing home since March 10 last year. In those 10 months, I’ve SEEN her once – from about 40 feet away (and through a glass wall) – on her 98th birthday… and I was allowed one supervised visit (late October) in which I could not get nearer than six feet. [Yes, I understand the REASONS for those restrictions, but I still don’t like them.] My normal pre-pandemic schedule included three weekly visits to mom.

* for the first two or three months of the “shut-downs” our church was among the many which were closed on the mandate of the KY governor. I felt awful about not being allowed to gather for Sunday worship… even though I was able to view those services through a streaming feature of Facebook. After churches were later allowed to re-open, we had very strict parameters on seating, masks, and the numbers of people who could gather in the sanctuary. Later in the autumn, attendance for the service was again suspended, due to fears about a new surge related to fall breaks and Thanksgiving get-togethers. Since middle-December, we’ve been allowed to return to the sanctuary, but we still have the seating restrictions and must wear masks.

* another emotional blow was no longer being able to work with the kids in our church programs like summer’s Vacation Bible School, and our weekly AWANA sessions during the school semesters. Each of those involves a LOT of energy and effort – which, at my age is already significantly waning – but they are functions I believe I was “called” to do… and I found it a blessing to work with some of those kids.

Specific Examples

As I’ve aged, I’ve become more and more an introvert… and less and less do I enjoy / endure large gatherings (of whatever type). But I do still enjoy very small fellowships. I’ll give you two examples of times during this year of restrictions, when I sorely missed the ability to go with friends to a restaurant and sit down together.

* During early August, we were saying farewell to some good friends who were leaving KY for a farm in distant Connecticut. We had to meet in a parking lot and stand around our two vehicles as we chatted, reminisced, and fought back our disappointment that we’d likely never see those folks again. What we all four wanted to do was to sit around a table somewhere and share a final breakfast and coffee. Not possible!

* During late November, we’d been to a small indoor concert by four area musicians, whose music I’ve grown to love. After the event had concluded, we were invited to share a late supper with the husband-wife duo who are the heart of that group. Alas, that very day the KY governor had mandated that all eating establishments close – AGAIN – to in-person dining.

* For Thanksgiving last year, we dined with our Daughter and her family — OUT-doors, six-plus feet apart. Yes, that’s better than not seeing them at all… but it felt entirely un-natural!

These kind of disappointments – and the cookie-cutter restrictions that created them – are the type things I’d like to avoid in the future. These are the kinds of things I’d first want to resume when/if the current restrictions are ever lifted in a way that approaches “normality”.

Question:

Give us an example of something YOU want to resume as soon as you are allowed.

[JLS # 522]

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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10 Responses to Straining at the Leash

  1. jbrayweber says:

    I can feel your disappointment through your words, Jeff. I won’t say too much of my own opinions on this pandemic and the imposed restrictions other than so, so much of it has been politically driven, and at the detriment of lives. The fallout has been and will be incredibly far-reaching.

    My husband’s grandfather was placed in a nursing home several months before the pandemic. In his late 90s, muddling through bouts of dementia, and being prone to falling (and having busted his head through a wall during one of those falls), he simply had to have the care. He didn’t understand what was going on in the outside world or the reasons he couldn’t have visitors. But what he did understand, in his own mind, was that his family had abandoned him. He died in that nursing home this summer, alone. (and not from Covid) Can you imagine? It’s heartbreaking. Several family members are suffering from depression over this, too.

    There is so much I could say about how this pandemic has been handled—some positive, most negative. After all, we are learning, adapting. But I won’t extrapolate. Not other than to stand by my comment that politics are a huge component and that having a differing opinion than the masses is not allowed. I know this as a fact because I have been “canceled” by a group of authors for merely having a hint that I might not agree with them. Truly sad.

    To answer your question, I would love to resume my freedoms of choice. I am a responsible adult, I can handle it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Amen, Jenn. The biggest difference between today’s covid handling and the 2009 swine flu handling has been that the politicians decided to flex their muscles on this one. Whatever were / are the differences in risk, transmission rates, and mortality — the 2009 swine flu pandemic essentially left most daily decisions to localities and individuals. The largest issues, like overseas travel, were probably mandated by federal officials, but the remainder of their role was focused on information, recommendation, treatment, and immunization — NOT on business closures, schools shuttered, and forced “sheltering in home”.
      Like you, I have faced some degree of ostracization because I dare to question the extent of the executive mandates coming forth from governors’ offices (and elsewhere).
      But since this blog is a place of “safety” from political harangue, I’ll halt the revelation of my views on that note.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, again, I have to say that as sad as all of this is, (especially the part about your mother, you must know that tomorrow’s post will talk about not being able to see my brother), I have to ask again to use your vast knowledge of history to realize how many time people lost friends and family forever from them simply moving a short way…or across a continent or an ocean. Even if you get down to being ‘Christmas card friends’ with these people, you have that, let alone any other form of communication….and a much greater likelihood of them arriving safely at their destination.
    But I understand. I tend to cling to the few I get close to, miss them greatly and, as one person who has known me a long time said, “You have a strong sense of family, I would say, almost to a fault”.
    Hang in there, Jeff. Besides people leaving, emigrating, wars and the likes of Ebola in Africa or back to The Spanish Flu, we have it easy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The real problem has been inconsistency on scientific facts and knowledge and what really helps. I think, under the circumstances, given the mortality rate with this one, that erring on the side of caution should be the rule for everyone, just to do the right things the right way, or make an effort to try. ‘Personal choice’ is not in question when it comes to public safety any more than ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service’ is, or safety equipment, food inspections, etc. are.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I am more than happy to shelter at home. I do miss friends and family, but not enough to risk my health or my husband’s. Shut downs have not bothered me at all, and I’m just fine with video chats. That said, I do miss being able to meet for lunch or dinner to celebrate birthdays and “just because.” But if my local government says that the transmission rate is too high for restaurants to be open, I’ll eat at home and wait for things to improve.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jeff Salter says:

      The curtailing of my “social calendar” — other than the activities I mentioned in the original post — have not bothered me nearly as much as they have many other folks (including my spouse). Some people crave external stimuli… while others (like me) tend to crave solitude.

      Like

  4. When I take Wyatt to his doctor appointments at the Children’s hospital we would stop to go out to eat, or go to the mall, or some other fun thing. We haven’t been able to do that since the pandemic started. We would stop to grab something to eat before the long ride home but we’d eat in the car in the parking lot. So I’d like to be able to take him ice skating in the big mall before one of his appointments (he tends to be too wiped out after to do such an activity).
    I’m sure all the kids that you work with in AWANAS miss you and are looking forward to when they can gather again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      I miss them. It’s fun to see the HS grads parade in front of the church each May and I can usually spot a couple who were in one of my classes.

      Like

  5. Elaine Cantrell says:

    Well said, Jeff. I think most of us have similar desires and wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

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