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The best dog ever

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Meet Sable, a mixed-breed dog who had the coloring of a Corgi, the body of a husky, and the demeanor of whatever breed is the calmest. We lost her ten years ago this past March, but I still think about her at times, and those memories bring laughter, smiles, and still tears.

How she came to be ours is not an exceptional story. Our youngest son wanted a dog for his tenth birthday, and we heard about a family that had puppies to give away. If I remember correctly, there were five puppies in the litter. My two sons and I went to pick out a pup, and when we saw the runt of the litter sitting back while the bigger pups got all the food, we were unanimous in our decision. It had to be the lighter-colored, sweet-faced gal instead of the larger, mostly black brothers.

She was so tiny, and she was shaking as Kevin held her on the ride home. Cautious in nature, she didn’t run around in the house an explore, and I didn’t want to put her outside in the pen with the dog house that first night, so we barricaded off a corner in the dining room with chairs and lined the floor with puppy pads. I just knew she would escape the chairs and pee and poop all over the house that night, but when we got up the next morning, there she was, still curled up in the corner, with no sign of night-time explorations.

I knew then we had a special dog.

As she grew up, she was an outdoor dog by day and slept inside at night. I never–I repeat, never–had to do anything to house train her. She trained herself. She stayed in her pen while we were gone and played outside with the boys when they were home. We never allowed her on our furniture (our sons allowed her on their beds and even encouraged it, but that was behind my back), so she never tried.

You could set a plate full of food on the floor, and she wouldn’t touch it. We even tried to see if she’d eat food off the plate if we weren’t in the room. We’d peek around the corner, and she wouldn’t go near it. Sometimes we’d push the plate at her, and she’d back away from it. Put that same food in her dog bowl or outside on the concrete, and she’d eat it. Maybe she was afraid of the plate, but I like to think she knew we wouldn’t like it if she ate off of our plates or out of our bowls.

I’m a faithful walker, so she became my walking companion. At first, I used a leash, but at certain spots, I’d take her off the leash. I soon learned there was no need of a leash. If a car was coming, I’d simply say, “Sable, over,” and she’d get over on the grass until the car passed. She stayed right with me, never straying more than ten feet from me, never chasing cars, never bothering people who passed by us. Dogs running loose in our neighborhood would run at us, barking, and she’d either ignore them or stare them down until they left us alone. She never fought with them. She just had this…attitude that asserted her dominion over them. Our neighbor called her the queen of the neighborhood.

We didn’t have any part of our yard fenced in when she was alive, but we eventually allowed her to stay outside of her pen. She stayed in the yard, usually on our back deck or our front porch. She never left, and the only thing she ever barked at were the occasional horses that went by. Yes, we live in a rural area and some neighbors not far away used to ride by fairly often. As time went on and she got older, we even left her out in the yard instead of in the house or in her pen while we were gone. I guess, looking back, it was a chance we took and were lucky she was not hit by a car, but the thing is she never went to the road. Our house sits 100 feet back from the road, but still, most dogs would be off exploring, right?

When she waned to come inside, she never scratched at the door or barked. Instead, she stood outside and made a huffing sound.

Time marched on. Before we knew it, she was a permanent inside-the-house dog, or an-out-in-the-yard dog instead of a penned-up dog. She wandered occasionally to the next door neighbor’s yard, but for the most part, she stayed close. The most dog-like things she ever did were digging holes under the deck or under her doghouse and lying in the cool dirt and digging holes to bury things.

She did so many funny things. Like the time she got under my mother’s bed at her house and the hardwood floor was so slick, it was like she was on ice trying to get out. She loved to ride in the car. One morning Kevin was leaving for school and realized he forgot something. He came back in the house to get it and when he got to his car, she was sitting in it and refused to get out. She weighed about fifty pounds, and he didn’t want to pick her up and get dog hair all over him before school, so he drove her around the block, brought her back, and let her out. She got what she wanted.

My sons grew up, went to college, did their thing, and Sable remained. I talked to her, cried to her, shared front-porch sitting time with her, walked with her. She went from being our son’s dog to being our family’s dog. She filled the empty spaces in our home with our sons being gone, and her attachment to us was as strong as our attachment to her.

I can honestly say that losing her was heartbreaking. It wasn’t a matter of being sad a few days and moving on. When we lost her to acute pancreatitis just one day shy of our youngest son’s twenty-first birthday, we grieved as though we’d lost a family member, which to us we had. We had her for eleven years, and so many memories of those years are tied up with her.

Those of you who are dog-lovers can relate to this, I am sure. And I’m sure that, to you, your have or have had the best dog ever. My sons have their own dogs now, and I love them in a special way, but of course, they’re not mine like Sable was. Well, I mean, she was ours. She belonged to all of us, and we all belonged to her.

Yesterday afternoon, I sat on the rocker on my front porch and flashed back to the countless hours I did that with her. I fantasized about getting another dog, maybe a German shepherd or a mixed-breed that looks like one, and I wondered if that dog would be like her, one I could trust to stay by me on the porch and not run into the road, one that never chewed up anything, not even as a puppy, and one that would listen to me talk about what was on my mind.

Maybe someday I’ll get another dog, and I’m sure that, in time, I will love her (I only want a female) just as I loved Sable. Not in the same way, of course, but love nevertheless. And if I do get that dog, she will have unique traits that I will appreciate, behaviors that will make me smile, and her own personality that will make her special.

But whether I do or not, there is one thing of which I am sure. There will never be another Sable. She was truly special.

How teachers are immortal.

woman writing on dry erase board
Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

Teachers immortal? Strange idea, I guess, but it didn’t originate with me. It originated with early 20th century teacher and author, Jesse Stuart, who once wrote that he was convinced that teachers were immortal because they lived on in the lives of their students.

This is Teacher Appreciation Week., and while we as a nation are focused on COVD-19 and healthcare providers and first responders (as well we should recognize and appreciate), let’s pause for a moment to recognize those people who trained the nurses, doctors, paramedics, and others who protect us.

I, like you, had a variety of teachers. Kind ones, strict ones, lenient ones, hard teachers, easy teachers, even mean-spirited ones. Not all teachers deserve to be appreciated, but most of them do. Most are hard-working and truly care about their students. They become discouraged when parents are too critical, when students are disrespectful, when administrators are harsh and condemning and even threatening their jobs. Some teachers do not need to be in the profession, no doubt. But most do, so it is appropriate to recognize them at least once a year during this time.

I learned valuable life lessons from my teachers, lessons that weren’t always pleasant. In second grade, for example, a boy in my class asked what letter came after another letter. I asked, “Don’t you know your ABCs?” Mrs. MacEntire at O.C. Johnson in Yuma, Arizona, took me outside, kneeled in front of me, took my hands, and explained Kindly but firmly that not all students learned as quickly as I did, and if I said things like that, I’d hurt someone’s feelings. That made a lifelong impression on me. That same teacher allowed me to read aloud the short stories to my class and show them the pictures I drew to go along with them. She never held that incident against me.

Mrs. Haney, at McGraw School in Yuma, introduced me to books like “Heidi,” “Swiss Family Robinson,” and other classics that she read aloud to us after lunch/recess every day. We were allowed to put our heads on our desk while she read to us, and I have no doubt several fell asleep, but I listened to every word.

I can’t leave out my third grade teacher, Mrs. Straub,, at McGraw. When I approached her with the idea of our class doing a play using the album “Alice in Wonderland,” she turned the whole thing over to me. I cast the actors, and we rehearsed a few times before doing the play, including costumes, for our parents. I cannot fathom how terrible it probably was, but she didn’t tell me it couldn’t be done and she didn’t take over. Thank you, Mrs. Straub, for building up my confidence.

Junior high is kind of a blur to me. In seventh grade, we had a social studies teacher who was so strict, we were all scared to death of him. But I learned the capitals of every state and country. He tested us one at a time. He held up an index card with the state name and we told him (individually, not as a group) the answer. I was terrified. I guess the good thing that came out of that was that I learned to study, study, study. I was too scared of his glare to give the wrong answer.

In high school, I was more concerned with social activities than my teachers. Oh, I studied and made good grades, but each class was just something to get through until we changed classes when I could connect with my friends. We had good class discussions in Mrs. Mason’s junior English class at Warren County Senior High in McMinnville, Tennessee, and the yearbook advisor I worked under for two years, Mrs. Chambers, was always kind and patient with us, her smile quick, always treating us like young adults instead of teen-agers. Mr. Stubblefield, my Advanced Biology teacher, taught me the value of research (with that 35 plus page research paper we had to do in one six weeks!) and what it meant to have a sense of humor as a teacher. I don’t remember much about what I learned in that class (after all, it’s been forty-six years), but I do remember his voice, his smile, some of his sayings.

College came next, the University of Tennessee at Martin. I started out as an English major, switched to history, and ended up majoring in Spanish and minoring in French while taking business courses like accounting, business law, and other courses to prepare me for a career in international business.

Well, that didn’t happen.

But those teachers in the foreign language department were my favorites, the ones who impacted me the most. Dr. Robaina, the Cuban attorney who escaped Cuba during Castro’s takeover and ended up teaching Spanish here. His English was heavily accented, so you might as well learn the Spanish. Maria Maloan, the teacher who influenced me to take French as well (she spoke five languages and was a native of Brazil), instilled in me a love of foreign cultures and language and piqued my interest in world travel. Dr. Mohler, my advisor, whose calm demeanor and methodical approach to teaching helped me learn everything I needed to learn.

Maybe I didn’t go on to bigger and better things by working in international business for a large bank or corporation, and maybe I didn’t achieve those college dreams of being a world traveler, and maybe I didn’t become a successful author (remember those second-grade short stories) or actress/director (third grade play), and maybe I didn’t accomplish anything noteworthy, but my teachers helped to mold me into the person I am today. Just someone who worked hard, did the responsible things in life, tried to help my family, friends, community, and church.

I shared my personal memoirs to honor those who affected me and to spark an interest in each one of you to remember your own teachers and what the good ones meant to you. I shared them also so current teachers can see what type of teacher influenced me. And I shared them so parents who have never worked in education and maybe have a negative attitude about school can understand or begin to see that teaching is more than just standards and objectives and grades. The best teachers, in my opinion, are the teachers who have heart.

To all teachers who are often over-worked, under-paid, and taken for granted or even under-appreciated, this is your week. Thanks for all you do, and may God give you wisdom, patience, and confidence as you continue in a career that makes a difference in the lives of so many.

After all, Jesse Stuart said you were immortal. Who is to say that he’s not right?

Catching up with my former student, NBA’s Popeye Jones

Popeye photo
Photo from the Dresden High School yearbook, 1988

 

I am more than a little excited to welcome NBA’s Popeye Jones to my blog today. Popeye (given name “Ronald”) was a student of mine many years ago, and one of my fondest memories of him was how he was competitive in the classroom just as he was on the basketball court. I can still recall him stopping by my classroom on test days to see if I’d graded the tests yet, his main objective being making a better grade than his good friend who was in the same class!

Popeye, please tell us a little about your personal life. I was born in Martin, Tennessee, and grew up in Dresden, Tennessee.  I was the youngest of five kids (three brothers and a sister).  I got into sports because my brothers and sister played growing up.  I attended high school in Dresden and received a scholarship to play basketball at Murray State University.  My wife and I divorced in 2010 and have three wonderful boys, Justin, Seth, and Caleb.  The two youngest play in the NHL.  I remarried in 2017 (Kelsey), and we have a seven-month-old boy (Camden).  He keeps me young and full of energy.  He is a real joy! I spend all my time working to be a better basketball coach or hanging out with them.

When I was teaching, many of the student athletes in the high school aspired to go to the next level. What differences did you notice between playing basketball at those two levels? The difference in high school and college athletics is learning how to manage your time.  You have to study extremely hard and spend a lot time becoming a better player.  Everybody in college was good in high school, so the level of competition goes up.  It’ s extremely tough as a freshman because you are playing against grown men.  They have been in college for three or four years and have developed their bodies and skills.  You can’t lose your confidence during the process.  You must understand that it’s going to be hard days and extremely hard days.   Just keep pushing forward! J

I remember how excited we all were when you were drafted by the NBA. I actually watched the draft that year, just because of you! Tell us about your experiences. Yes.  I was drafted in 1992 by the Houston Rockets with the forty-first pick of the second round.  Second-round picks don’t get guaranteed contracts, so my agent worked out a deal with an Italian club for a guaranteed contract.  Looking back on it, it was the best decision ever.  I lived in a small Italian town about twenty minutes outside Milan.  I feel in love with their culture and, of course, the food. LOL.  It got me out of my comfort zone and helped me to grow up as a man.  I played extremely well.

How did your playing career evolve after you came back to the states? I played in the NBA for eleven years for seven different teams (Dallas, Toronto, Boston, Denver, Washington, Golden State).  I was considered a journeyman.  My first three years with the Dallas Mavs were my best in the NBA.  I was able to establish myself as one of the best rebounders in the NBA.  I tore my left ACL during my fourth year.  I was never the same player for the next seven years as I had three more surgeries on the same knee.  I continued to try and push through the problem, but it finally forced me to retire.  Injuries are a big part of being an athlete, but it can really take the wind out of your sails.   I really enjoyed living in so many different cities. After moving the family from Dallas, Toronto, Boston and Denver, we finally decided to settle down in Denver.  Denver was my fav city out of all the cities that I lived in during my career.  I love the beauty of the mountains and all the outdoor activities the city has to offer.  I lived in an apartment in Washington and Oakland.  I would always go back to Denver in the summer.  I continued to live in Denver for six years., the rest of my playing career and additional two years after retiring.

Popeye, thanks again for answering my questions. Even though I have seen you from time to time over the years and knew some of this, it was great to have you fill in the gaps of the story of your life. Best wishes to you and your family!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a BB (boredom baking) kind of day–easy, delicious, blueberry nut bread!

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I may have shared this recipe before, but it is well worth sharing again. I got it from Mrs. Hannah at church (my fellow church members know who she is) and tweaked it to make it a little easier. Her recipe calls for all-purpose flour, soda, and baking powder, and it also calls for some orange zest. I believe one tablespoon.

Either way, it is absolutely delicious, and anyone can make it. A chilly day like today, when we can’t be outside and out and about, makes for a perfect baking day. The kids can even help you with this one. Enjoy!

Blueberry Nut Bread

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1 slightly heaping cup of sugar

2 cups self-rising flour

1 cup frozen blueberries

1 cup orange juice

¼ cup oil

1 teaspoon soft butter

1 egg

Toast nuts in glass baking dish for ten minutes at 350. Spray loaf pan. In one bowl, stir together flour and sugar. In another bowl, add small amount of sugar/flour mixture to blueberries and coat. Set aside. Mix orange juice, oil, and butter and add to sugar/flour mixture. Beat one egg and stir all into the sugar/flour mixture until evenly distributed. Sift flour out of blueberries and add the residue to the batter until smooth. Stir pecans into batter. Pour half of batter into baking pan. Drop half of the coated blueberries onto mixture. Spoon remaining batter over blueberries and drop remaining blueberries over the top. Place pan in 350 oven (325 if glass) and bake 50 to 60 minutes. Check with toothpick.

 

 

WPSD’s Pauline Fitzgerald talks about her career, her passions, and…Italy!

Pauline fire fighterSeveral weeks ago, I was privileged to be interviewed by WPSD reporter, Pauline Fitzgerald, as the subject of a human-interest feature concerning macular degeneration. To say that it was an interesting experience is an understatement! Pauline and Jason, the cameraman, were easy and fun to work with, and although I’ve never been the shy type, I did feel out of my comfort zone being on camera. The two of them, however, made me feel comfortable, and before I knew it, I forgot about the cameras and was able to focus on why I was doing the interview, to share my experiences in the hope of helping others. As I type this now, I am using IrisVision, a device that can change the lives of the legally blind or anyone with low vision.. I could not see to type this without it, so I continue to promote it. Spread the word!

However, that is not the focus of my blog today. Watching Pauline do her job and viewing her in the mornings on WPSD Local 6 each day made me curious about her and others in her profession. She graciously agreed to answer my questions, and I hope you enjoy learning more about her and what it’s like to work in the news media as much as I did.

Pauline, I know your schedule is very busy, so your willingness to do this earns you major points and a lifetime fan! First, tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? Attend college? What about your connection to Italy?Pam, we’re so glad that we made you feel comfortable, but more importantly – we’re honored to be able to tell your story to help others in our community.

My schedule is pretty busy – you got that right! I was born in Belgium, moved to Italy for a short amount of time, and moved to Connecticut where I spent most of my childhood. My mother is 100% Italian, and my father, from Chicago, is 100% American (of Irish and English descent.) I got the best of both worlds. As for my connection to Italy, I would spend every summer there growing up. Half of my family is still over there, and I have a lot of friends over there that I grew up with. I’m still close to a lot of them. I attended college at the University of Alabama, majoring in Journalism and Italian Literature with a minor in Political Science. Growing up in New England, I wanted to venture out. The south was the perfect place to start.

 When did you first become interested in a career in broadcasting? Growing up in a mixed household has opened the door for a lot of different opportunities to travel to different places, meet different people, and spark a curiosity for a lot of different things. That’s mainly why I wanted to become a journalist. I’m just so curious about everything. I’m honored to be a platform to inform people on a multitude of different subjects. I love it.

 I am assuming you had to do one or more internships and possibly had a paid position with another station. Where have you worked besides in Paducah, and how were those experiences different? I’ve done several internships throughout my college career. Some included working as a public relations and communications intern for the Italian Parliament, writing press releases on an hourly deadline in both Italian and English. I was a public speaker and translator at the Parliament in both Italian and English for multiple discussions. I also was a photography intern for a German-Italian magazine. I also interned and volunteered throughout my time at Alabama. I volunteered to teach Italian for a year at a local elementary school in Tuscaloosa and interned for a nutrition magazine (hence my interest and passion for health) ,and interned for the university’s television station, WVUA 23 News. I was an editor and a reporter.

 Tell us what a typical day is like for you. The beauty of this job is – there is no typical day. No day is like any other. I usually wake up any time between 3:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. (no, it’s not easy, and no, I haven’t gotten used to it, yet.) I usually get in by 4:30 a.m., depending on what I’m covering that day. The morning newscast at WPSD is from 4:30 a.m. until 7:00 a.m., and as a reporter, my “live shots” (remote reports) are around 5:38, 5:52, 6:00, 6:08, and 6:38. So there is a lot of airtime but also a lot of time to get creative. Sometimes it can be stressful, but I love it.

 My son once worked as an assistant producer at WPSD. Can you explain to my readers what a producer does and how that role affects your job? Producers make the show go on! Well, everyone plays a part in the show. We have different duties. Producers are in charge of essentially putting the newscast together, deciding what is newsworthy to mention to our viewers, and write up a lot of the content in the newscast. They’re constantly having to stay updated with what’s going on in the world, the nation, and in our backyards to inform properly. They’re all really creative people – reporters and producers work together as a team to tell someone’s story in a meaningful but informative way.

 I love the health segments you have in the mornings. How do you come up with ideas? I’m not going to lie, I love them, too. And I’m not saying that because I’m doing them – I’m saying that because I LOVE learning about health. I love learning about the body, what is good for it, what certain diseases, illnesses, and syndromes look like, and how to reverse them. I’m constantly reading books on health. I have book shelves full of them. You can never stop learning. Long story short, I went through my own health transformation a couple years back, and ever since, have felt inspired to share “hacks” and knowledge to people about health. Whether the topic is exercise, diet, or simply sharing what people can do to better themselves, it makes me feel like I’m making a difference. A lot of people don’t take their health seriously, and I want to make sure I’m opening their eyes to realize that we only have one body – take care of it.

 When you and Jason were at my house, I noticed he used the large camera and you used your phone. I was surprised by that because I always thought there was just the “official” camera. When did reporters start using phones for interviews? Yes, that big ole camera weighs a lot! She is our best friend, though. We always stick to the big camera for interviews, but we like to use other devices like GoPros or phone camera to get different angles. We are all about angles, and the more footage we get, the easier it is to edit the story. Not only that, but I LOVE capturing moments. I love seeing things through the lens. That’s another reason why I love this job

Pauline and Jason.

 What is the best part of your job? What is the hardest? Great questions. There are a lot of great things about the job that make the hardships worth it. I think I would have to say my favorite thing about this job is I feel like I can leave a physical, emotional, and mental impact on people. That’s important to me – leaving a mark on people. I feel like I’ve come into this world to leave it better than how I found it, and that’s what I can do by doing this job, all while being able to educate myself and others more on some passions of mine. The hardest part is mainly the 3:00 a.m. wake up call. It’s just brutal. It’s difficult for me to get out of bed. Another hardship, and I think this goes for any industry, I’m still very new at my job. I’m not even two years in yet. I still have a lot to learn, and sometimes I feel like I trail behind more than others when it comes to learning. I try my best every day.

 Do you wear your own clothes and do your own makeup? Yes to both. I’m fortunate that my mother has some great taste and loves shopping for clothes for me in Italy. I’m sure many of you know, Italians have great sense of fashion. The makeup aspect was more difficult for me – I was never one to really wear makeup before I got a job at WPSD. I think it’s fun putting it on every day, but I also love the days I don’t have to wear any…but you don’t want to see that!

 What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in broadcasting? Go for it. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. This job allows you endless opportunities of knowledge, growth, and most importantly, helping, informing, and leaving an impact on people’s lives. What is better than that?

 Is there anything you’d like to add? Thank you so much for your curiosity in what I do. I’m always delighted to share more about it, hopefully to inspire others to follow the same path!

 You do a great job, and I enjoy watching you and the others each morning! Your job sounds interesting to me and makes me wish I could go back in time and possibly do the same (except for the early rising part). I am especially fascinated about your experiences in Italy and your knowledge of the language because I majored in Spanish and minored in French and wanted to learn Italian eventually.

 Thanks, Pauline, for your time and for featuring me in one of your health segments. And thanks to you and the morning team for providing me with the perfect show to watch while I have my morning coffee. I’ll be following your career, you can bet on that!

Pauline, Brianna, Trent!

 

 

 

 

 

What Some People Don’t Seem to Get about COVD-19

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I’ll explain the photo at the end of this blog post.

First, let me say straight-out that I am not an expert. Ask me the difference in “farther” and “further” or where to place a comma, and I can tell you. Ask me how to make homemade biscuits, and I will show you. Ask me how to explain this virus epidemic like a doctor or scientist? No way.

But if there is anything I know how to do, it is to research and to learn from the ones who do know. That’s what I, as a teacher, taught my students to do. That is what we, as an educated society, should do.

Which is why I am mystified by many who are taking this pandemic lightly. Are they not researching? Are they not listening to the medical professionals? Are they trying to downplay the seriousness of what our country and world are facing because they don’t want to interrupt their routines, if only for a short while?

I’ve heard that argument that the flu has killed more people than COVD-19. True, so far. But what the experts are telling us that this virus is highly contagious, that you can have it and not even know it (thereby being a carrier), and that the death rate is ten times higher than the death rate due to the flu. Because there is no vaccine and it is a new virus, our population doesn’t have immunity to it.

Mathematicians can explain it better than I can. The point is, the virus can spread exponentially. They are not basing this on some remote hypothesis. They are basing this on what they have already witnessed in other countries.

It is highly contagious, as I stated earlier. That is why New York City has more than half of the reported cases.

So where am I getting these facts? From the media? In a way. Because the news outlets, like our local WPSD, the national NBC, and Fox, all stations that I have been watching, feature medical experts who are explaining, answering questions, and giving recommendations. Everyone, from the nation’s surgeon general to the COVD task force headed by Vice-President Pence, to a local doctor in Paducah, says the same thing.

Stay away from people.

President Trump asked us to avoid people for 15 days because that incubation period would go a long way to stop the spread of the virus. Yet millennial still parties on the beaches, people still went to restaurants, groups continued to meet. It’s as if they were saying, “It won’t happen to me.” Many were saying that there was too much hype, that is was like Y2K, that the media was blowing things out of proportion.

They refused to listen to the experts.

Our area is fortunate. We have no reported cases, at least not yet. That doesn’t mean we won’t have, and that doesn’t mean we need to congregate as though the virus isn’t living among us. It could be. That person you’re chatting with may have contracted it but have no symptoms yet cough and send the virus right to you.

While it is not deadly for everyone or even the majority of people, experts now know it doesn’t affect just the elderly as was previously believed. There have been reported deaths of young people. Just think about it. There are plenty of young people with asthma, diabetes, and other conditions that make their immune system not as strong as others. I heard this morning that people with high blood pressure (that’s a lot of you out there) and diabetes are at high risk.

If you’re not concerned about your own health, at least be concerned about the health of others. I can’t help but wonder what the numbers would be if the entire country had listened to President Trump when he asked everyone to not gather for 15 days, to go only to places absolutely necessary and practice social distancing, a recommendation he made after consulting with multiple experts.

The picture above is of me, my brother, and my mother, taken last year on Mother’s Day. I’m 63, my brother is 73, and my mother is 92. Although I’m in the category of higher risk, I have no health conditions. No blood pressure issues, no diabetes, no asthma or COPD, none of that. My brother, however, has a defibrillator and pacemaker, high blood pressure, lung problems, and is on dialysis. My mom, well, she’s 92.

And because I have to care for her needs, I am practicing social distancing. I’m taking all the precautions recommended by the CDC and countless doctors.

Our politicians are concerned about the economic impact of all this, as many of us are. That has kept many governors from mandating business shut-downs, in spite of the strong warnings coming from all over the globe.

As a teacher, part of my job was to teach students social responsibility. That means how to be responsible as a member of a community. Things like not littering, obeying laws, helping others, and all of the things to make our communities stronger by personal actions.

Hospitals in hard-hit areas are desperate for resources to treat those infected. Medical personnel are stretched to the limit. This is not media hype. This is real.

As I stated in last week’s blog, there is no reason to panic. Don’t rush to Walmart to load up on toilet paper and canned goods. The supplies are still coming. Even Italy allows people to leave their homes for necessities like food and medicine. Don’t be in fear for your life. But take precautions. Stay at least six feet from others. Keep your hands away from your face. Wash your hands, with soap, for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer.

And avoid social gatherings. It’s what they’re asking us to do, and it’s what they don’t want to force us to do by making it a law. They’re wanting us to demonstrate social responsibility.

Listen to the experts, and heed their advice.

Please.

So what do you blog about when the whole world is focused on a pandemic and everything has been, and is being said, that possibly could be?

 

I could blog about my grand-dogs. Penny Lane, a beagle/blue-heeler mix. Mowgli, a…well, we’re not sure , but I think he might have greyhound somewhere! Marley, the eleven-year-old diabetic who is blind due to cataracts but till manages to get on our diving board and sit. All sweet, all fun, all loving.

I could blog about some of the amazing vacations I’ve experienced, like the OBX stay in 2018 that blew me away, the Washington, DC trip in 2014 (which I loved more than my husband because we walked A LOT), the times I’ve been to beautiful places like the Grand Canyon and Sedona.

I could write about the time we followed Jane Seymour around on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills (1982) or how I met Elvis Presley’s uncle in 1978 at Graceland and had a nice chat with him.

I could tell you about all the times I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth and said all the wrong things at the wrong time. Hopefully maturity is helping me with that.

I could recall funny stories from my teaching days, like when a sophomore asked me in my French class, when we were learning the names of animals in French, if the animals in France made the same sounds as animals in the United States or about the time a male student was a little fresh with me (I was young thenK) and when the principal called in the custodial grandfather and the boy to his office, along with me, and the grandfather at the end of the discussion told the boy to apologize and give me a kiss. True story. Don’t worry, I stopped it.

I could write about how I was convinced my youngest son had God’s ear when several of his prayers were answered in unbelievable fashion. One night in particular stands out. It was bedtime, and my seven-year-old told me he didn’t want to go to school the next day. I told him unless he were throwing up or running a fever, he was going. When he said his bedtime prayer, he asked God to make him sick so he wouldn’t have to go to school. About three a.m., he woke me up, and he had a fever of 102. He was sick several days,. I told him to be careful what he prayed for!

Right now, we’re facing an uncertain future. We don’t know what to expect because we’ve never had to deal with anything like this. It’s not my place to tell you how to behave during this time, but it is my sincere hope that we not panic, that we listen to the experts and follow their advice, and that we reach out to help others in whatever ways we can. It is my hope that the good in us will prevail, that we will stop making this a political issue and instead  treat it for what it is, a health crisis of proportions not seen in my lifetime. I would hope we, as a nation, will pull together as we did after 9/11, that will will be united in our efforts to reduce the number of those affected by the virus.

And while we are doing all of that, don’t forget to laugh, to be creative, to focus on what is good and right in our lives. Have faith that we will get through this and things will return to normal eventually.

The Greatest Generation knows this. They lived through the Depression and World War II. There aren’t many of them left, but they could all tell us some stories that would make this pale in comparison.

Hang in there, everyone. Don’t freak out. Be smart, and if necessary, err on the side of caution. Do what you can to stem the spread of the virus. Do what you can to help others.  Let’s do our part to make things better instead of worse.

Don’t get me wrong. I know this is serious. But trust. Pray. Have faith. Then relax.