I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Mother's Day 2020

I don't know how long ago this picture of my mom was taken, or who took it (although I suspect it was my dad), but I know where it was taken: on the dock behind the parent's retirement home on Lake Worth, Texas. So many things make me smile when I look at it: how happy Mama was, imbibing her favorite evening drink (a martini), how great she looked, showing off her legs and slim figure. She was rarely that thin in her later years, when she struggled for her life through many illnesses. She died in 1993, almost having reached her seventieth birthday. Mama gave birth to seven children during her lifetime; I was the oldest, born when she was only nineteen. My youngest sister was born twenty years later, when Mama was 39. Twenty years of childbearing, with a gap between the first three and the last four. One sister died soon after birth, having been born prematurely; her lungs were not sufficiently developed for her to survive.

But in those seventy years, Mama accomplished so much and made many wonderful homes for her family over the years. When Daddy died in 1979, Mama was devastated and never fully recovered from the loss. Of course, that changes the trajectory of countless lives, losing your partner of many decades, but Mama was strong and found a way to carry on. But she never considered remarrying, because none of the eligible men held a candle to our dad, she said. She moved on from being a housewife but never stopped being an outstanding homemaker.

On this Mother's Day 2020, we are in the midst of a terrible pandemic of a virus that is taking away so many loved ones, families shattered, the entire world economy shut down and here in the United States, most of us are under lockdown orders; for our own good, we are mostly staying home. We learned this week that 30 million people are currently unemployed in the US, because most businesses are still closed after two months. Many businesses are tentatively beginning to reopen, although the pandemic is still very much alive in many parts of the country. It will be awhile yet before I'll be able to get a much-needed haircut or massage. Or go back to the gym. But I have adapted; although I'm not getting nearly the same amount of exercise I was before the virus changed everything, I'm at least past my period of ennui where I barely budged from my favorite chair for days on end.

At least three or four days a week, I'm able to go for a decent sized walk, and occasionally I will take a hike with a friend, keeping our physical distance and wearing face masks. It's not much fun to keep the mask on constantly, and although I keep it pulled down under my chin most of the time, when I meet someone on the trail or sidewalk, I pull it back up before passing by. At the grocery store yesterday, I noticed that almost everybody is wearing some kind of face covering and honoring the social distancing guideline of staying six feet apart. It's the new normal, and I suspect it will be with us for a long time to come.

I came across a comment on a favorite blog that mentioned a book that sounded interesting, Spillover by David Quammen. The subtitle for the book, written in 2012, is "Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic." He has been employed by National Geographic for a long time, and traveled extensively to get the information he shares in the book. In an article written by Alice Roberts, she is quoted here:
This is an extraordinary book. David Quammen has woven a story of incredible complexity; a detective story with a difference, with a host of murderers – all of them real. They are viruses, bacteria and single-celled organisms which infect other animals, but every now and then make the jump – spill over – to our own species. Each chapter follows the quest to track down a new villain. 
The book was written long before the emergence of the coronavirus that has now changed the entire world, but he predicts that it, and others to come, are definitely the new normal. I am only halfway through the book, but it's a fascinating read and Quammen is a gifted writer. Although it's terrifying to contemplate what horrors might await the world in the future, it's also very satisfying to learn how and why, and consider how we might be able to mitigate our fate. I recommend the book highly. It is my Mother's Day gift to you, if you like detective stories, that is. I loaded it onto my Kindle for a very reasonable price. Normally, I would have gotten it from the library, but that is not an option these days. Or even buying it at the shuttered local bookstore, so Kindle it is.

I haven't decided how I want to spend my Mother's Day this year. Hopefully I will get a chance to walk in the forest somewhere, enjoying the shaded greenery. Every once in awhile I remind myself that it's perfectly okay to settle into my chair and binge-watch a new show. One thing I know I will do today is finish the final two episodes of Dead to Me, a television series on Netflix. My sister suggested it, and at times I found myself glued to the chair and watching just one more episode. Now I've almost finished season 2, and I'll have to wait for who knows how long for season 3! The first series was released in May 2019, and the second in May 2020, but with everything on hold, it's unclear when the next season will be released. There is such a plethora of good shows to watch these days, I'm just hoping I'll remember to check for news about the show in May 2021.

 At least the weather is pretty darn perfect around here. If anything, it's a little on the too-warm side, with the weather yesterday making it all the way to 80°F (26°C). I kept looking for shade when I was walking yesterday, but today should be a few degrees cooler. I know for some, it would be perfect at 80, but I have become a Pacific Northwestern flower that wilts in the heat. I suppose I would adapt, but I shouldn't have to here, since it's much more likely to be cold and rainy, even in the summer. I'll survive the sunshine.

In any event, the flowers all around town are in full bloom, and the delight to my eyes is welcomed. I am in a beautiful part of the world, and at the beginning of summertime's long days, with plenty to be thankful for. My sweet partner is still sleeping next to me, and the day beckons, even if I will not be able to visit my friends in the coffee shop, I have my own coffee here. I might just take it out to the front porch and sit in the coolness of the morning air and drink it while I listen to the birds and enjoy the silence around me. Later there will be plenty of noise from lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and conversations floating through the air, but for now, it' all quiet.

And you, dear reader, I hope you will have a day to remember, one that keeps you and your loved ones safe and healthy. Every day is a gift, don't forget, and if your mother is still around, I know you will not forget to wish her a happy day. Until we meet again next week, I wish you all good things.


Terra said...

I admire you and the long walks you often take. I take short walks every day with my 14 pound dog and we think we are patrolling our neighborhood. Sometimes he wears his black coat that says security on it. I remember what seems so long ago when I would meet friends at a coffee shop, and go to church each Sunday for a joyful hour. Now I meet friends on Zoom and attend live stream church, good but not the same! That book Spillover sounds very relevant. I am watching Dead to Me too, and Workin Moms has a new season also. Be well.

Anvilcloud said...

Spillover sounds good, but I am having some trouble reading these day. Invariably, my eyes begin to water, and I want to close them. Maybe audible.

Dead to Me: not sure if we have it on our watchlist. I will try to remember to check.

I hope you have a good day and week.

Marie Smith said...

I wish the same for you Jan, this week and always!

For those of us who had great mothers,, this is a day to remember them fondly. We were lucky!

Rian said...

Happy Mother's Day, DJan! Enjoyed your post this morning. Planning on doing some facetime and Skype today with family and friends. That book does sound interesting. Anything that might give us some insight into how to handle these situations should be a good read. I think and hope that if and when this pandemic is over, we will have learned a lot. As I heard someone say recently - these changes that will be taking place are coming sooner than they would have because of the pandemic. Maybe there could be something good coming our of this tragedy??

I think I saw "Dead to me" on Netflix, but haven't watched it. I'm binge watching "Outlander" and am on Episode 4 of 5 (maybe 6). First 3 Episodes are on Netflix, then 4 thru 5 (and maybe 6) are on Prime. When done, I will check out "Dead to me". DH and I are watching Murdock Mysteries - but I think it's on Acorn, not Netflix. We really like it.

I hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day walk or if you decide to stay home and relax - that's good too! Hugs, Rian

Gigi said...

Happy Mother's Day, DJan!! I love that picture of your mother - what a beautiful smile.

Have a great week.

Elephant's Child said...

Your mother's smile is stunning.
A very, very happy Mother's Day to all mothers the world over. And to their children, who remember them.
And thank you - that sounds like a book I would love to read.

gigi-hawaii said...

Have a good time walking today, as I know you love to exercise. Your mother was very pretty in that swim suit. She looked happy in the sunshine.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Happy Mother's Day dear DJan! Sending you a virtual hug today! Your mother looks stunning in the old photo!
Hope you get out today!

I will have to check that Netflix Series out. Thanks for sharing what you watch. :)

The Furry Gnome said...

I'm jealous of your 'pretty darn perfect' weather! Our daughter reports the same thing in Abbotsford.

Red said...

You always write a very nice tribute to your Mom. The pandemic is always on our minds. we just don't know what will happen. I think if everybody plays by the rules we can probably open things up. aA I hoping for too much?

Mary said...

Oh I’m reading Spillover right now. I’m halfway through it and it is fascinating. And he is an excellent writer, as well.

Your Mom sounds like an awesome Mother. I miss my Mother everyday and she’s been gone since 1990. She was the best!

Arkansas Patti said...

Mother's day is a wonderful time to remember our Moms who have left us in body but not our hearts. Nice to have such nice photos to jog our memories of how they looked. Sometimes their essence remains but the image gets dim and photos help with that.
I just checked my library and put Spillover on hold for my Kindle. I love that program for I never have to leave the house. I am #3 on the hold so it shouldn't be long. Thanks for the recommendation. I was looking for something good.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, thank you for the book suggestion. I hope the library has it in audio as that's where I am right now with reading. Fortunately the Independence area library system is quite fine and open to suggestions for purchases. I'm so glad that you are now getting some walks in. Peace.

Rita said...

Yes, I called my mom. In her senior apartment complex one employee and two residents have the virus. So far she is doing fine.
You look so much like your mom! I hope you got in a nice walk. :)

Linda Reeder said...

I looked for your post Sunday morning, but I was too early and never got back to it. Now I have read your Monday post on your other blog, so I know about your aborted walk and gardening. I don't do well in heat either.
I always enjoy hearing about your family and childhood. We have a large family in common. My mother gave birth to seven children, of which I am second oldest. One of my sisters had Downs syndrome, but before we knew it by that name. She was severely impacted and spent her 40 year life in an institution.

John's Island said...

I can't get over how every time I stop by Eye on the Edge I find an interesting new post, and, also, most of the time, something that leaves me smiling. This time the smile comes from these words ... "I know for some, it would be perfect at 80, but I have become a Pacific Northwestern flower that wilts in the heat." As I've told you many times before, you have a wonderful way of putting things into words. Those words are exactly true for me too. I hope you had a great Mother's Day and I sure enjoyed the post. Re your comment on my last post on my blog … I left a reply for you there. Take care, stay safe, and be well my friend.

Rhapsody Phoenix said...

I trust you are well.
Base on the read i see you are navigating the covid restrictions well.
It certainly is a scary time we live in. Here in Canada they have 73,829 confirmed cases, 36,528 Recovered and 5,499 deaths. Hardest hit are the nursing homes and long term care facilities. Lost jobs as of April is 2 million and another 2.5 million has low reduced hours. People are hurting emotionally, psychologically, financially and many already suffering from food scarcity to such a degree the food banks can barely keep up. It is truly scary not only in terms of health but in the sustainability of ones ability to hold on their homes and maintain a decent standard of living. The government has been good in providing some financial assistance and banks and mortgage companies are offering payment deferrals but that can only exist for so long. Farmers are hurting, small businesses are closing permanently. Its just one big mess. Through it all I am keeping the faith, I am embracing humility and holding onto gratitude.

Take care of yourself.