I’m writing this to warn my fellow Mississippians to avoid climbing Mt. Everest. According to insurance folks it’s one of the most dangerous things you can attempt. Your chance of surviving is about 1 in 400. But, there’s one more matter you might want to consider. As I write this article in late July, 2020, in the State of Mississippi odds of dying from COVID 19 are 1 in 2,321. So say the Epidemiologists at the CDC, people who analyze and interpret health data. Six long months have come and gone since the first casualty passed and another 145,000 other Americans followed. Now, new victims are crowding into over-taxed ICUs. This increases the odds of you or me dying. Sorry to be such a downer but this Corona Virus is not a kindergarten fire drill. It’s real life and it is changing us.
On the subject of change, I know folks who hardly ever swore but, now they do. I know folks who never shirked watching the news but, now they do. I know folks who never ducked reading political columns in printed media or political propaganda sent by friends on Facebook, but now they do.
As do I! I avoid facing facts because it’s simply too hard to ascertain the truth. So, I escape to my cocoon at home where I eat, sleep and drink more than before. I add pounds and disremember what day I’m in. But, I don’t fret so much about myself. I agonize more about my children and their children and how this Damndemic pandemic is changing their futures.
Statistically, if you’re reading this in the newspaper, you likely agree with me. You’re worried about your kids, too. Unless you and I discover the fountain of youth, which I suspect is hidden somewhere in Newton County, we’re counting down our final days. And, I think you’ll agree, we’ve never counted days as bizarre as these.
Yet, as card-carrying Baby Boomers we’ve proven that we can survive during bizarre times.
As children we lucked out when timely vaccines came around to curb polio and the measles. Many of us fondly recall the turbulent ‘60’s when Rock-n-Roll and Motown spilled from our car radios. We marvel at the transitions and changes we made as the Civil Rights movement chugged through our school systems and society at large. We remember and wince over the wreckage of a war in Viet Nam. We also endured financial disorder and sat in hot cars in long lines to pump the government enforced limit of $3.00 in gas. Did I mention living through the Disco Era?
We survived it all and I suspect America will, once again, survive and flourish. But, the task of fixing all the brokenness we face today will fall directly onto the shoulders of our children unless we rise up to affect the changes that sheer survival calls for. We should take two simple steps: 1. Get off our butts and 2. Re-harness our ingenuity. (Keeping ourselves socially distanced, scrubbing our hands until our fingertips turn wrinkly, and wearing a Darth Vader mask around town would also help.)
We’d best hurry. Our generation hasn’t much time to mastermind the solutions. And, to think that our world has completely changed because of something so small we can’t even see what it looks like without a high powered microscope.
This virus seems to have come straight out of The Twilight Zone, the old TV show. Unlike the 30 minute episodes we once watched in black and white where there was a satisfactory conclusion, a wrap up that neatly concluded each program, the ending of today’s version is uncertain. The fight to eradicate COVID 19 is rife with controversy, rumor and innuendo. Our leader, strangely enough, argues that it will magically just go away, someday. All I know is that it will kill more and more people while it plays havoc with our way of life. It is all so surreal.
This coming November our choices for President feature a couple of guys whose combined ages will total 152, assuming they both last long enough to show up on Inauguration Day. Younger voters, by and large, aren’t enamored with either candidate. I have an idea that may motivate kids under 35 to get to the polls and vote!
I propose that Presidential candidates must select running mates who are half their ages or less! This means that Trump must bring in a Vice Presidential Candidate under the age of 36.5 and Biden must select a VP candidate under 39. Our future leaders and our country will benefit from my new Presidential “on-the-job training program.” I propose we call it “Bob’s Proposition.”
And, while I’m on a rant, why can’t we take all this money we’re paying people to “live on and stay home” and invest it into giving people JOBS? This is the path FDR took us down and it pulled America out of the Great Depression! Why aren’t our leaders talking about doing that?
Speaking for myself, if I’m offered a construction job you need to know that I’m not the best contender. I have never, ever driven a straight nail! I would be a better short order cook assuming we’ll get restaurants back. But, I freely admit that any future career for me is limited by my age. I’m arriving soon at the three-quarter century mark and I’m lucky to enjoy better-than-average health for a man of my bearing. As I look back on my own life it seems like the days blew past like a Japanese Rocket Train. I’m seven decades down with an unknown number of year(s) to go.
I’m also told that I’m a textbook target for Corona Virus i.e. COVID #19 or maybe #20. Folks like me breathe it in and barely last long enough for bananas to go brown. My kids are good at reminding me of these conditions. They have spies that watch my comings and goings. They yell at me over the phone when I break curfew or leave the house without asking permission.
Our little family mainly worries about our ancient Dad. He is still maintaining in our family home. Dad’s merely 26 years older than me and likely may outlive all of us. His vital signs rival that of contemporary NFL players. He takes no meds. Next December, a week before Christmas, he’ll turn 98. We hope the Damndemic will be over so we can throw a wing-dang-doodle of a party. Y’all plan on attending.
My siblings and I watch over him and our family dog. Vaught the dog is quite the elder dog in our town. He turns 17 this year. Dad and his dog are inseparable. They spend most days napping and then they sleep all night. When I’m there, I pretty much do the same thing myself.
Throughout his long life, one statement my Dad made, over and over and often, was this one: “In the end, things generally turn out alright.” During the handful of times I’ve been handed a few hard times, he’s been right, absolutely right. Things did turn out alright.
I’m counting on this to be true when the pestilence and plagues go away.
But, I’ve got to go now. It’s naptime.
After that I’ve got to harness my ingenuity.
Bob May is a native Newtonian who spent a long career in Broadcasting and has a new book that features humorous and compelling stories about care-giving his Dad, Dr. H. L. May. Visit www.havefundammit.com for more information.