Passages (This, Too)

Easter Sunday, April 2, 1961

This was my first and last Easter as an only child.

Math tells me that even then, my sister was present. You can’t tell, but since she was born in November, she is in the picture with my parents and me.

Just a little of the silliness going through my head today, I reckon. I come across old photos fairly often, since I do spend some time researching family history from time to time. Finding old photos of myself always gives me a bit of a jump, though. How did I get from there to here?

This is me, aged 11 months. 59 years ago. Good grief, how is it possible that the next birthday I celebrate–always assuming I last another month–I will be 60 years old?

Now, that disclaimer. No one knows when their time is up until that last second of time, that last breath exhaled. I am not suffering any life-threatening illness at this time (that I know of, at least), but that’s no guarantee. And I’m not being dramatic or seeking sympathy, I am simply stating a bold fact of life.

On the hopeful side, I am just going to assume that I will indeed be here a month from today and I will hit that milestone birthday.

It’s hard to believe. Sixty. The big six-zero. Whoa.

For perspective, you should know that as a kid, I never believed anyone would make it to the year 2000. Wasn’t possible. I could not be *gasp!* 40. Besides, the world would probably end.

As the year 2000 approached and the doomsday chants began, and Y-2K became a thing, I was more in the mindset of “Oh, crap, I really am going to be 40!” I no longer believed the world would end just because a new millennium was dawning. I went to bed, read a book and welcomed the year 2000 at midnight by getting a glass of juice and toasting the tv screen. The lights stayed on, my computer still worked and I would still be required to go to work and pay my bills on time.

So much for the end of the world.

Since the turn of the millennium, we have experienced several life-changing epidemics: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), H1N1 Influenza, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Ebola.

The world survived.

The world has survived a lot. My paternal great-grandmother, who was my father’s paternal grandmother, died in the influenza epidemic in the early 20th century, along with my grandfather’s brothers. Grandpa Shablo was the only surviving male child of his family.

But now, I can point to my uncles and cousins who carry on the family name. The family lost members, but it continued.

The same can be said for many other families. We went on.

Now, we find ourselves in the midst of a world-wide pandemic, COVID-19. Things haven’t been handled as well as they could have been. People have panicked and hoarded essential products. We are overloaded with information, most of it exaggerated or patently false. There is no cure, no vaccine and no proven treatment.

Unlike in my great-grandmother’s time, there is a plethora of scientific information available to help find answers. There are world-wide communities of experts, sharing communications and resources, at work in an effort to eradicate this threat.

There are real people with real information working hard to make sure what we learn is true and useful, rather than demoralizing and fear-inducing.

There are also, unfortunately, those who would take advantage of the situation by spreading rumors and lies, selling useless “cures”, buying up resources and re-selling at grotesquely inflated prices and whipping us all into a state of frenzied fear.

I want you to beware of those who seek to gain for themselves by taking from you. Some will truly appear in sheep’s clothing, angelic and caring on the surface, but evil within.

I won’t lie to you. This is a scary time.

So, is this the REAL end of the world?

I don’t think so.

I am not a doctor. I am not an expert in anything, not even my own day-to-day life. But I don’t believe this is THE END.

Humans have a great capacity for adjustment. We never would have survived at all if we weren’t capable of making the necessary changes to our lives when things went awry.

Sure, there were those who didn’t follow quarantine rules during the plague. Culled from the herd, weren’t they?

Life has ever been survival of the fittest. Sometimes “fittest” is not just physical fitness, but also intellectual fitness.

I actually have a little intellectual fitness. Not a lot, but it beats the hell out of my physical fitness, and so it is what I am exercising in these crazy days.

We were told to practice social distancing. I’m already damned good at that, I’m reclusive by nature. Wash your hands frequently. Check! I do that all day long. Stay home. Well, ta da! I hardly ever go anywhere.

My big, huge and terrible downfall will be the order to keep my hands off my face. Whining: It’s so hard! 

As a person with severe allergies, I have often used masks, home made and others. I don’t like them much, but they are absolutely essential to me in some situations. I have zero issues with wearing one if I have to go out in public.

Now, you’d think that would keep my hands off my face, but I have to confess something. While masked, I practice mask-adjusting. Too high, too low, too tight, not tight enough. You can see how the face-touching is going to be the death of me, right?

I’m not terribly social, but I do miss people, and I hope this situation eases soon so we can be with those we care about without worrying that we might cause them to become ill or worse.

In the meantime, I want you all to believe that the world will not end, humans will survive until the next big threat, and we will get back to some state of normalcy that may indeed be a New Normal. A Better Normal.

We’re still okay, until the Zombie Apocalypse comes. Then, it’s every man for himself, and the last thing you’ll be stressing over will be toilet paper.

Be aware. Stay six feet apart. Wear a mask when you go out in public. Stay home as much as possible. Wash your hands. Wash them again. Keep washing them. Call me once in a while and tell me to stop touching my face. Don’t touch your face. Be smart. Be safe.

We’ll get through this. Together, apart.

Here’s to making it to 60.

Happy Saturday.



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