We’re All Going to Die

“I’m going to die. You’re going to die. We’re all going to die.” Siggie, from the movie What About Bob? understands all too well what our futures hold. COVID-19 confirms it. Perhaps people felt the same way in 1918: the uncertainties of life in a pandemic, civil unrest, the haves and have-nots, Democrats vs. Republicans, socialists vs. capitalists. Not much has changed. In her book The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath says that things people did seemed silly since everyone ended up dead. The writer of the Bible’s book of Ecclesiastes says virtually the same thing. “Everything is meaningless,” we read in Ecclesiastes 1:2. Yes, life is short and whatever we accomplish, we leave behind when we go. At the same time, life is good and God wants us to enjoy...

What’s in a Name (or Screw Those Labels)

“Karen, time for lunch, Sweetie,” my mother called. Our lunches were special on weekdays with Daddy gone to work and Debbie off to school, so I eagerly joined her in the kitchen. It was just me and Mother for grilled cheese sandwiches and Charles Chips. Being the youngest, second child, it was a joy to hear only my name, rather than be at the end of a string of family members. To be singled out. Karen is my name, who I’ve been for sixty-some years. It’s a name I’m used to, not Gregory or Stephen, the only two names my parents had picked prior to my birth. (They expected me to be a boy.) Surprised doesn’t begin to describe my reaction when I recently heard a friend reference Karens in a not-so-positive way. What? My friend explained that Karen was a commonly...

Don’t Call on Me

On a recent visit with my daughter’s family, I joined in a small gathering of friends from their church. While the children busied themselves with toys and art supplies, the grownups were led in a spiritual discussion by the group leader, a priest in their Anglican church. I was distracted by the children, though, and had difficulty focusing on what was being said; the children’s talking and laughter drowned out the priest’s words. Maybe a part of me was more interested in what my four grandchildren were doing than in listening to what a fairly new acquaintance was saying. But then, “What are your thoughts, Karen?” Father John asked. I was immediately transported to school days when I used to hide behind the student sitting in front of me, out of sight of the...

A New Syndrome

Most everyone knows of Attention Deficit Disorder, exhibited by people who can’t sit still and constantly bounce from one thing to another. There are medications available for this condition. But attention surplus needs to be addressed as well. It’s characterized by a person sitting hour after hour, sometimes with eyes open and sometimes closed. Individuals appear to be content, whether staring at the television or being sound asleep. There are varying degrees of attention surplus, with some people sitting still for a solid hour, while others manage a full day. I’ve often suspected my husband suffered from something because of his ability to sit so long without moving. Many husbands do this despite perpetual nagging by their wives. Retired men, in particular, are...

Wholly Worthless

I took a spin through Whole Foods one day and, as always, noticed the exceptionally healthy-looking customers shopping there. Dressed in expensive workout clothes and shoes, these folks were handpicking the freshest, organic fruits and vegetables, bagging Fair Trade coffee and nuts from the bulk bins, choosing wild-caught salmon, and selecting beef from cows raised without hormones and antibiotics. They chose soaps scented with real essential oils, $4.99 a bar, rather than the store-brand soap I buy at $1.99 for three bars; ionized alkaline water for $2.99 a bottle, while I serve mine from the tap. I selected just a couple items with the intention of going to my regular reasonably-priced grocery store for the bulk of my groceries.  I guess she deserves to...

Masked Smiles

Smiles are a great way to show enjoyment of humorous moments, but they do much more. They greet, encourage, and motivate. They comfort, calm, and reassure. They allow people to see the humanity of the one smiling. They can be an image of love. My smiles come as naturally as breathing so I’ve never given them much thought until now—when I’ve lost the ability to share them. In these COVID-19 days, other than when I’m walking alone in the neighborhood, my smile is covered, hidden under fabric designed to keep my germs to myself and the germs of others, away.  At the grocery store, I recognize no one and no one recognizes me, though I’m surely seeing the same grocery workers I’ve encountered on a weekly basis for years. Thankfully, since most other customers are...