I asked my mother last night if she had ever used a gas station bathroom and she looked at me aghast.
“Absolutely not,” she said. “Do you know me?”
I do. And, I may have been baiting her because my mom also has never pumped her own gas. In fact, I have only ever seen her enter a gas station to purchase a newspaper and she only does that when she’s worried the delivery person will not get it to her in time for her to complete her daily crossword puzzle. She is a creature of habit and begins each day by doing three crossword puzzles, and ends each evening with a chocolate chip cookie and a glass of milk.
In between, she expends a tremendous amount of energy avoiding germs.
The woman has been a proud germaphobe since the day she was born and glared fiercely at any of the other babies at Deaconese Hospital whose bassinets may have rolled a little too close.
As such, she has risen to the challenge of this global pandemic with admirable obstinance and innovation.
For instance, Mom loves to play tennis but she’s worried about the virus spread.
So, she hired a recent high school graduate to hit with her on Saturday mornings. Mom brings a new can of tennis balls each Saturday and they play outside on a public court.
She also takes a long walk every day and, if you’ve seen her out there, I sincerely apologize because she is a fierce protector of her personal space. She will cross the street three blocks ahead of running into anyone, and she gets annoyed if anyone passes within 12 feet of her. It’s downright embarrassing, but impressive just the same.
I walk with her sometimes, but she makes me walk across the street from her, which makes for a pretty awkward conversation as we shout back and forth.
My very kind friends have issued an open invitation for my mom to swim in their pool, which has saved the summer for her because she is used to a daily swim but won’t do it this summer if anyone else is in the pool. So, we go at odd hours to this lovely backyard pool and she Esther Williams herself while I chat with my friend.
My sisters have similar stories. We visit my mom and she greets us from her balcony, like an octogenarian Juliet, while we sit on the patio below.
The thing is, my mom is handling this COVID-19 situation better than most people I know. She understands that this virus is a threat, and she proceeds with caution. But, she also has found ways to enjoy her life in a responsible manner.
I have to say, I don’t know anyone like my mom. But, I do know a lot of people who are similarly committed to trying their best to carve out a reasonable life in the midst of these crazy challenges and I say, here’s to them!
Bravo for being safe without moping around your house! For being social without exposing yourself and your friends and family! For problem solving in the face of historic challenges! For not blaming people for the really hard decisions they’re making in the face of this virus! For finding a little joy in this old world.