Last Thursday morning, I had to don the obligatory N95 mask and nitrile gloves and head out to a local diagnostic lab for some routine bloodwork. Considering the fact that the list of tests to be performed on said blood was longer than I am tall, I have to imagine the routine part pertained only to the sticking of the syringe into the appropriate blood vessel.
Note to self: Save yourself trip #2 to the lab and DO NOT micturate before leaving the house for trip #1.
On returning home from trip #1, I engaged in an exchange that positively made my day or, depending on your semantic predilections, made my day positive.
My wife and I live in an over-55 community. The community, comprising 21 homes, circumscribes a cul-de-sac, which ensures its quiet and its safety from trespassers, solicitors, reckless motorists, and myriad other interlopers. The circumference of the cul-de-sac is about a quarter of a mile. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, two women from our community, Mary and Sandy, have taken to walking laps around the loop together every morning, without fail, rain or shine.
As I entered the cul-de-sac in my car post-trip #1, Mary and Sandy were rounding the loop toward our home, umbrellas up in the pouring rain. I pulled into the garage, got out of my car, left the overhead garage door open, and stood just inside it waiting for them to pass. As they did, I said, “If you ladies ever need anyone to vouch for your commitment, I’m your boy.”
Their faces lit up. Sandy asked, “We can just call? We don’t need to pay you or anything?”
I said, “No charge.”
Sandy said, “Poor Mary has to listen to my yakking.”
Mary, grinning from ear to ear said, “Every once in a while, I just smile and say, ‘Oh, really?!'”
I replied, “Okay, Sandy. Give my money to Mary.”
They both laughed, bid me a good day, and went on their walking way. I closed the garage and entered the house with a smile on my face. And even though I was down a quart of blood, I had a very full heart.
None of that had to happen. We’re in the midst of a global pandemic. The world is worried sick. Yet these two women choose to be positive, to share exercise, to share conversation, to share their neighborliness with each other and the rest of us, to set an example, even though — perhaps especially because — they have no intentions of doing so.
Then it occurred to me that I might see their umbrellas as metaphorical, as symbolic representations of their determination to protect themselves from the constant onslaught of fear and panic, of confused and confusing news. I don’t know that they intended that either. To them, they were probably just umbrellas. And it was probably just raining.
That’s a very beautiful thing.