Well, well, well! What a year 2020 has been…for the entire planet we call HOME! Just as John & I were recuperating from his ordeal of recovering from his June, 2019 stroke, 4-month hospitalization & 2 months in acute and subacute physical rehabilitation facilities, we, (like the rest of the world in January, 2020), were finally settling into a brand-new year, full of hopes and wishes for happier times to come. We had plans and reservations in place for a trip to Hawaii in May for both of us, as a reward for surviving 2019, and a rescheduled October, 2020 trip to Walt Disney World along with my son, his lovely wife and my two grandchildren (a 2018 Christmas gift from us that had to be postponed from October, 2019, due to John’s ongoing recovery from his stroke). All of course were immediately dashed to the ground by the arrival of – you guessed it – COVID-Schmovid! (And, as the saying goes, “if you want to hear God laugh – PLAN SOMETHING!”)
Sooo, that being said, as senior citizens, we adapted fairly well, since being retired, we didn’t have jobs to go to any more – and living in a very small town of about 7,500 good-hearted country folks – our lives, thankfully, weren’t too adversely affected. Of course, masks and social distancing were quite the adjustment at first; along with having groceries & local restaurant take-out meals delivered rather than chancing going into a big supermarket or dining in. Boy, do we miss our favorite local eateries, visiting with my NY family, friends in MA, and my cousin & her husband in CT, as well as the few new friends I’ve made here since our big move in 2018 – but especially at our age and with John’s pre-existing conditions, who wanted to chance having to battle the BUG, right?
All in all, we managed better than a lot of people – and believe me, we are extremely grateful! There were a few major steps forward for John – with his wonderful physical therapist Nancy, he regained most of his mobility; and after cataract surgery on both eyes, his vision was restored so completely, he was driving from July until mid-October. Blessings we no longer will ever take for granted, believe me.
The happiest event occurred on May 29, 2020 – after hemming and hawing for one reason or another (mostly on my part, till I retired, sold my MA home and moved to CT) John and I were finally married! He likes to joke that it ONLY took 7-1/2 years of his almost-daily proposals, his near-death experience (stroke) and COVID-19 for him to finally wear me down to say YES! It was a very small, intimate service, in an outdoor gazebo on our little town green; witnessed by his sister, her friend, and John’s favorite therapist Nancy and her co-worker – and the Justice of the Peace has been a lifelong friend of John’s for over 60 years. We hope to have a BIG celebration in the summer months of 2021 with family and friends once Covid has settled down, and we’ve all had our shots!
Then, of course, this “annus horribilis” would not have been complete without another speed-bump on November 1st – John endured a virulent urinary tract infection that turned septic, which required 4 days of hospitalization (very scary in this day of COVID, so many safety protocols, only allowed one visitor a day for 30 minutes, etc.) Thankfully, he pulled through very strongly, but is still on the comeback trail, as his after-effects include blurred vision, weakness on his left leg and balance issues…he’s back around where he was last April. But again, an in-home therapist has made great progress with him, and though driving is out of the question for now, it’s a goal for him going forward as the blurriness is gradually abating.
I welcomed Thanksgiving and Christmas more strongly than ever this year. (John laughs that I must have been an elf in another life). But the reassurance that the holidays still bring, only helped us focus on how truly fortunate we have been, in a time when others have struggled so much. So, the turkey was roasted, the house decorated and the tree went up almost overnight – and the sense of peace, the calm during the storm and renewal of spirit has been a better gift than anything you could put in a box. (We also found out on December 23rd that a lump on his neck is not cancerous – a true blessing, if there ever was one!)
A challenging year? Yes indeed. But our struggles are very small in the larger scheme of things. We are grateful that we are both still fairly strong for our ages, COVID-free and have each other, as well as incredible neighbors and medical allies who have become friends to us, and helped us to cope not only with his recovery but with the understandable feelings of isolation, as so many have experienced during this turbulent year. And viewing how so many more incredible people – the unsung frontline heroes, essential workers, charitable effort organizers, etc. – brought the very best of themselves these past months into aiding those less fortunate, has only further cemented my belief that, as Anne Frank’s last diary entry states: “In spite of everything, I still believe that most people are really good at heart…”
I wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year, and may the lessons we have all learned in 2020, help us all to overcome tragedy and celebrate the triumph of the human spirit! God bless us – everyone!