Phyllis Britt

Phyllis Britt

Today (Wednesday) is April 1, and ordinarily folks would be trying to think of ways to play an April Fool’s joke on someone. However, I think this year I, personally, am not much in the mood. With all that the world is going through right now, it’s hard for me to think of silly things to do.

Yes, I’m trying to do positive things, keep a positive attitude and make the most of this enforced “staycation,” but it’s not always easy.

I realize I’m already retired, and there are those who would say, “Isn't all of your life now a ‘staycation’?” Maybe it looks like that from the outside, but think about it.

As we are into our third week of staying at home, mostly, there are things I’ve truly missed.

Last week I was looking forward to my first set of meetings as a member of the Savannah River Site Citizens Advisory Board. This is a quarterly two-day series of meetings, open to public attendance and comment, that include reviewing some of what’s happening at SRS at the moment. In anticipation I have read a lot of documents about what’s going on at SRS. I participated in a tour of the Site (albeit, mostly virtual because it was raining that day). And I was ready to dive into this two-year commitment of meetings held in various locations around this side of the state. This one was to be held in Augusta, with the next one in Columbia and the one after that in Hilton Head. But all this has been delayed.

I have been taking classes at the USCA Academy of Lifelong Learning, and was looking forward to a class on Coins of the Bible, a continuing class on the History of SRS (purely a coincidence), a class entitled “We’re Still Here” on American Indians. (Before you criticize my terminology, the teacher of the class is almost full-blooded Choctaw, and she does not like the term “Native Americans” – she says anyone born in the USA is a “Native American,” no matter your heritage.)

During this time I’ve missed a North Augusta Forward board meeting, a gathering of a Writers Club started by Rev. Joe Lusk, a luncheon with a group of Community Ministry of North Augusta ladies, another luncheon with a group that has met together for First Friday for several years. (This month it was to be the 20th, in case you were doing the math.) Then there were things like couples bridge at my house, T-ball games for grandson Thomas, a field trip to Columbia with Cade, son-in-law Scott’s birthday, son Mac and Joy’s anniversary.

And we could talk about all those church things that we all are used to doing – I’m in a Bible study called Frazzled Females, and I need this camaraderie. Our church has a Wednesday night dinner and program. Lenten Luncheons have been canceled. (Someone on Facebook said we’ll look back on this time as the “Lentenest” Lent we’ll ever experience. Amen to that.) And there’s church itself. Live streaming is simply not the same.

All these things were canceled, postponed, altered.

I realize we all have a list like this. So what have we all been doing?

Over the last several years at my house we have been slowly replacing carpet with hardwood. Tom decided this was the time to complete one of the bedrooms that he had started painting before the Coronavirus took life as we once knew it away. And the good news is Lumber Liquidators delivered the wood to our garage – and we didn’t even have to get close.

We had recently painted our sunroom, and I have dragged my feet in putting pictures back on the walls. So last week I decided it was time. This led to decisions that required reworking the pictures in the den, the living room, the entry ... You know how that goes.

I’ve been trying to organize photo albums. I have a box of pictures dating back to when my twins were 4 or 5 – no judgments, please.

And I have tried to stay put as much as possible.

For those who know me well, please be impressed that I got up early enough to go with Tom to the grocery store (Kroger) during the senior hour, from 7 to 8 a.m. – I guess you could say I must have been desperate to be in the vicinity of others, at least. I don’t know if it was because of the time of morning, but the store had everything we needed or wanted. (While we were there I ran into – from six feet away, of course – a friend from church who introduced me to a cranberry/chocolate chip bread that has reminded me breakfast isn’t so bad after all. Yum!)

I will admit that while I postponed a non-critical doctor’s appointment during this time, I was not so willing to sacrifice hair and nail appointments. Again, please don’t judge me too harshly. My hairdresser runs a very small shop, and she and I were the only ones there. And my nail technician has been wearing multiple masks, including an N95 mask, for quite some time. In both cases, they disinfected everything as I watched – the seat I sat in, fresh towels, fresh gloves, etc. We all did everything we could to stay safe, including multiple hand-washings.

The only other outings we’ve had have been to pick up take-out – we’re trying to do our part to support local businesses.

And I’ve rediscovered the outdoors. It helps that the weather has cooperated. We’ve taken walks, sat in our backyard swing, waved at our neighbors from afar and enjoyed watching how spring has sprung before our eyes.

And I’ve likewise rediscovered the telephone. I have called several folks from church. We’ve FaceTimed with grandchildren – granddaughter Pearce in Greenville is doing a daily journal entry as part of her remote learning, and she called to ask us questions about our favorite color (mine’s red), our favorite food (crab cakes), our favorite TV show (“Midsomer Murders”), etc.

I have spent way too much time on the TV binge-watching my favorite show, just mentioned.

And I decided this is not the Lent to give up video games after all. So I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time on my iPad and phone.

Finally, I realized that Tom and I generally have so much going on that we don’t spend a lot of time together during the day ordinarily. (Normally he spends parts of four days a week volunteering at granddaughter Payton’s school, and he’s in a coffee club that usually meets every weekday.) As a result, this was an experiment in how we get along after 48 years of marriage. Normally we eat out a lot, so that has been one test. I don’t cook much anymore, but we’ve managed to share that load. Normally, he’s gone by the time I’m ready to read the paper – and work the puzzles; however, he’s still getting up at 6 or 6:30 a.m., and let’s just say I am not.

But I’m sure you’ll agree that nothing is normal right now, or at least we’re settling into a “new normal.”

And, as we settle into home schooling, no Masters Tournament and the weirdest Easter I hope we ever spend, I am reminded that it may be April, but this is certainly no joke.