I was on the front porch when you drove by and I waved, enjoying a bit of sunshine after days of rainfall.
“It rains on the just and the unjust, “said Sudie Hudson, my dear grandmother, and during all the rain we had a week ago I kept thinking about her. Better than a granite headstone, to be remembered constantly is a true memorial. Yogi Berra, a Baseball Great said, “It ain’t over till it’s over” which is a good heads-up for the coming presidential election, and the Bee Gee’s wrote “Islands in the stream, that is what we are” which is especially true in a pandemic.
My wife and I have felt like living islands since March, constantly within ear shot of each other, watching life through home and car windows. Whenever handshakes become legal again, I hope I remember the proper number of shakes per person. And hugs, the first hugs are going to be awkward.
But no worries, state government will interrupt a perfectly enjoyable TV show to announce the need for continued government control and new approved greeting procedures.
But I’ll probably miss it.
Instead of watching television, my wife and I have spent our time watching the lives of the dove family outside my window, the open beaks, the constant feeding, the wing flapping of clumsy teenagers, the proud parents, and then yesterday no one was home. Gone. We haven’t heard from them since.
Some worry the American way of life is disappearing but I have no idea how that would happen. Variety and change are woven into our society --- it’s an amazing fact that we’ve always made room for each other and absorbed different ideas. I recently walked along the main street of our city and people passed me close with cell phones streaming Ed Sheeran, Trisha Yearwood, Bob Marley, a preacher stood on a corner proclaiming the imminence of the Second Coming, and down the street a hot dog vender was doing a brisk business with a variety of people. Sure, televised news would have you think we’re at each other’s throat, but average Americans show enormous tolerance for each other. We look, we wave, we order a hot dog with onions, we move on.
My grandmother would have easily weathered a pandemic, being a farm woman, stoic, self-sufficient, devoted to God and family. She didn’t socialize much, with seven children, her husband, two mules, chickens scratching about in the yard, and big leggy dogs living under the house, that was enough. She stayed close to home without a governor requiring it. Sitting and talking was fundamental to life, conversation was about crops, family, or church, but never about politics. Anyone who came to visit was welcomed, and if possible, they were fed.
America was built from spacious farms, and driving across North Carolina you see miles of open farmland with dairies, crops and livestock, evidence of hard work that has unpredictable outcomes. And you can stop along the way, as we recently did in the small city of Kinston, where I met people waiting to purchase a roadside hamburger, speaking broken English, who came to America legally, on behalf of their children. They believe in this free society, where they will be judged by their skills and character, not by government connections.
Meanwhile my wife and myself remain living islands, and beyond us, a circle of friends which the pandemic has made all the more delightful. Theaters are empty and stadiums have been quiet, but telephones still work and calls are frequent. We don’t talk politics. When asked what we’ve been doing, we talk about teenage doves.
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