April 03, 2020

Without zombies

Always, when my family joked about the Zombie Apocalypse, we would make plans of where we were all going to meet. That, I thought, would be the advantage of having four grown kids who all live within fifteen miles of me: in any kind of disaster we’d all be together.

Our houses have nicknames. My husband and I live at HQ, the home that all the kids still regard as headquarters. Beautiful Smart Wonderful Daughter and her partner live less than three miles away, in the Palace. It doesn’t look like a palace, it looks like a house in the woods. It’s the home where her partner was born (and I mean that literally), the home where he grew up. My son Boy-in-Black, his wife, and their six-month-old baby will soon be moving to the Kitchen, a house they are in the midst of renovating. It’s a modern house with lots of glass that would not offer much protection against zombies. My middle son Shaggy Hair and his wife live at the Farm, which might be ideal in a post-apocalyptic world since they raised chickens and have room for a huge garden. My youngest son With-a-Why and his partner live in the Cottage, walking distance from my home, which gives us a place to run when the zombies infiltrate HQ.

Any post-apocalyptic scenario has always involved lengthy discussions about where we’d gather and who would bring what. Never did we imagine this, each little family staying in their own house, communicating only via smart phone or computer, sending videos to each other as if we lived thousands of miles away.

Anxiety is high, of course. I live in the state that so far has been hit the hardest: more than 102,000 cases of coronavirus as of this morning, more than 300 in my small county alone. Those numbers will be higher tomorrow. The hospitals are overwhelmed already, which means that no visitors are allowed. I worry about my parents, who are 86 and 89, and live about six miles away, in the house that my father built. Living on their own lowers their risk considerably, but they are used to lots of contact with family members. We can deliver groceries to them, and send emails, and talk over the phone, and wave at them through their picture window, but none of that is the same as the family gatherings that we are all used to, when they get to hold babies on their lap and listen to the ridiculous conversations their grandchildren have.

It’s been three weeks since I’ve left my house, and more than a month since the last family gathering. I've already cancelled Easter dinner. My husband is an essential worker, so he’s now working crazy long days, seven days each week, with a skeleton crew. I’m alone most of the time, with my computer and my smart phone connecting me to the rest of my family and the rest of the world.

One thing that’s saved my sanity over the last few weeks has been a long visit from my grandpuppy Appa. I’ve always been a cat person rather than a dog person, but I’ve come to value his companionship. Like me, he loves long walks in the woods behind my house, and he wants to go outside no matter what the weather. So rain or shine, I’ve been tramping through the woods, noticing the brilliant mosses, and looking for signs of spring, which surely must come.

Dog on mossy log

20 comments:

Sandy said...

Aw, cute dog. Nice to see you blogging again. Hope everyone in your family stays well.

MARY G said...

It is the ED's birthday on Saturday. She and her family live less than an hour away and for many years we have all been able to celebrate together. Not this year, of course. She won't come near us, worrying about 80 yr old YF (her father) and me. For some reason this is really bothering me. Seems like such a little thing when one of the headlines in today's paper is about people in my age bracket refusing ventilators if they get the virus, so as to leave the devices free for younger people who are better bets.
ED is Eldest Daughter. I like your names for your offspring a lot better.

jo(e) said...

Mary G: Oh, I know exactly what you mean. My daughter is pregnant, due in June, and normally we'd be spending so much time together. I drove to her house just to stand twenty feet away while she came out on the porch and even pulled her shirt up to show me her pregnant belly.

Debbie said...

what a fun post...all of the names you have for everyone and their homes, i got a real kick out of that!! my boys are in texas and north carolina, i would love to have them closer. i started to self quarantine on march 8th and we are no longer allowed rides in the car, so home we stay!! new jersey, a smaller state, has been hit pretty hard, but nothing like you. i wonder what state you reside in??

i am happy to be blogging and to have fun people like yourself to visit!! stay well!!

Kendra Leonard said...

Appa is a wise pup to hang out with you and get to go on long walks.

Pilgrim/Heretic said...

Hello! I'm so glad to see you blogging again! I'm hoping to clean the cobwebs out of the bar one of these days and invite everyone back over. It's nice to see friends virtually, even if we can't meet in person. I can't imagine how hard it must be to support your daughter through her pregnancy at a safe distance.

jo(e) said...

Hey, Pilgrim/Heretic! [waving]
Has it been 15 years since we first all started hanging out in your bar? That's crazy.

Jeanie said...

I'm glad to see you post again and update us all. (And thanks for your visit, too.) It is almost surreal, family near yet you can't hug, touch or even be close. Rick and I have separate houses and we see each other but only from six feet away (he's the shopper for us). We are connected and not and I worry about other family farther away. I always thought "What would I do if I had to leave the house fast -- what would I grab? The cat, the computer? Well, I'm in the house and it's almost like nothing of my day life has changed -- I compute, I paint, I write, I go in the yard or a solo walk. And everything has changed. It's hard to wrap the brain around that.

I wish you all well, good health and safety. The good thing is that your parents can "see" you -- whether waving through the window or online -- and hopefully that keeps them going strong.

Elephant's Child said...

Lovely to see a post from you.
And equally lovely to hear that you can see your family members, despite not being able to hug them.
Walk in the woods with a four legged companion are life savers aren't they?
Stay safe, stay well.

Bardiac said...

Lovely to hear about your kids all grown up and (some) with kids of their own.

What happened to Biker Boy? Are you still in touch?

jo(e) said...

Bardiac: Biker Boy is nineteen years old now. He lives about 60 miles north of me. I talked to him on the phone last week -- and I visited him over the winter. So yes, still in touch.

Far Side of Fifty said...

We are the same back here in the boonies...my other baby brother comes over and we chat outside keeping more than 6 feet apart! My Nephew lives next door and my sister is now at my baby brothers lake home....I worry about my parents too 90 and 93. My other baby brother gets them groceries.
How wonderful that you have a granddog to spend some time with.
Stay safe watch out for zombies. No cases in our county yet :)

Zhoen said...

Such a lovely family. You will all meet again in joy.

eileeninmd said...

Hello,

It is wonderful your family live close together, my son and DIL live about a 30 minute drive. Our Easter gathering has been canceled too. These are strange times, I am grateful for all the essential workers out there. I am looking forward to going back to normal times. Your grand-dig is a cutie! Take care, stay safe! Wishing you a happy weekend. PS, thanks for visiting my blog.

DJan said...

It's good to see old virtual friends show up in my news feed. It seems like a long time since I've last heard from you. I love your grandpuppy and also love to walk in the woods. With everybody not working, it's hard to find places that large groups of teenagers stay away from. They don't seem to understand the concept of social distancing.

robin andrea said...

I love seeing a new blog post here. It's been a while. We are living in such challenging times in every way. I feel my fear rise up so often now. I just hope we can all stay well and make it through this pandemic with our health and sanity intact. Take care there... you and your beautiful family.

L said...

Ooooh, this was so much fun!! I love the names of the houses!! You are so blessed that you all live so close together. I don't know if it'll happen to me. My husband and I, my brother, and my three brothers-in-law all left our country with our spouses to go live in many other countries (we and K's second brother live here in the U.S. the third brother in Korea, the youngest in Montreal, and my brother in Indonesia!), but maybe my sons won't live too far away from us.

It's also fun to see all the comments of people delighted that you posted!

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

Lovely to see you AND Pilgrim/Heretic! P/H, please do post again! How ARE you?

Roderick Robinson said...

I have in spite of myself been travelling backwards instead of forwards through your most recent posts. I tell a lie, I've been going round in circles. But does time still matter in this locked-down world? On two consecutive days I convinced myself I was experiencing a Sunday: that unmistakable sense of an undigested plum pudding, a heart-rate dropping off the edge of the world, and the slow yet horrific realisation that the only unread book on the Kindle was written by Ivy Compton Burnett.

There must surely be inductive advantages from being married to an essential worker. Energy enough for the two of you. As for the skeleton crew, the witticism beckons but I'll withold my art.

I do not envy you your residence in New York state although I assume you must be quite distant from that Valhalla that once was The Big Apple. Governor Cuomo must however represent some sort of benison, an intellectual cordon sanitaire separating you from that malign being who is presently trying to force us (ie, the UK) to take huge quantities of an untested drug made by a company in which he has a financial interest. Are there no limits?

jo(e) said...

Yeah, I'm hugely grateful to have a competent governor right now since our president is an incompetent narcissist whose refusal to listen to science will cost us hundreds of thousands of lives. I've got family, friends, and students in NYC, and it's tough to watch this unfold there.