My pandemic birthday

I scored grandson points with my Star Wars mask.

A young man I’m fond of turned 10 last week. It was a weird birthday by most standards: just back from the States he, his sister and mom were in isolation and mom was sick. She rallied to lay on a favourite meal but there was no party, no noisy gathering of little boys in full rambunctious flight.

You’ll remember this one, I told him. You only remember the birthdays that are really different, and this is one of them.

I told him about my tenth birthday, which is up there in top birthday memories:

I had the flu and was lying on the couch watching I Love Lucy and cutting up paper doll outfits with Mom’s sewing shears. My parents owned a store and sickness was often bearable since it meant new comic books and paper dolls. Mom and Dad were at the store and Elsie, the lady who came in weekly to wash the floors and do the ironing was on site when I put the scissors down and – don’t know why – rolled onto them. They went in an inch or more. I shouted for Elsie who summoned Mom who came home, freaked out, and summoned Dad who carried me to the car and the local doctor’s office. I remember Dad holding my hand and joking about stitches in my britches as the good Dr. Mewhort sewed me up.

Couldn’t tell you the first thing about many of the birthdays that followed that one.

It’s my birthday today and I expected it to stand out for all that can’t happen. No guests in, no dinner out. Mr WI64 couldn’t go shopping in the ways he’s always liked to, although I’ve told him I’m not so grown up that I wouldn’t expect something. That 10 year old is still alive and kicking inside. (Spoiler alert: he came through.)

Depending on how long it takes the curve to flatten, birthdays across the country and the world could be isolated and solitary celebrations.

We’re heeding the advice of our prime minister and of Dr. Bonnie Henry, described as a voice of calm in a sea of corona virus madness, and nobody has crossed our threshold for weeks now. If you’re over 60, stay home, we’re told and we are both most decidedly on the far side of that age (fyi, the name of this blog hasn’t applied for a while now).

But some outings must be made. Grocery stores are dedicating early mornings to older customers and what with delivery services being backlogged by weeks, I went to the store this week and then sanitized my groceries before putting them away. The flour I scored (yes, scored! Flour is gold these days.) is still in the garage devirusing for the recommended three days and other goods needed more urgently were washed or wiped down with disinfectant wipes. Bizarre, but what most of us are doing.

I’ve been expecting the strangest of birthdays in this most unsettling of times. But then my day began at 7 a.m. on this hopeful note:img_5792

Flowers appeared on the doorstep (did you sanitize the vase or wash your hands after touching them? asked Daughter #2 who is maintaining vigilance in Ottawa) and a message from Daughter #1 in Australia made me cry. In a phone call with my sister we talked about our growing need for haircuts. I haven’t had a pony tail since I was 4. She’s 13 years older than me and has never had one. So stay tuned.

Social media has been a gift these past few weeks and hasn’t let me down today. Bless Facebook, Facetime, and Whatsapp.

Restaurants are closed but takeout services are allowed so Thai takeaway is on the menu for tonight.

Strange is the new norm, but friends and family find a way.

I feel loved today. Hope you do too.





12 Comments Add yours

  1. The mask suits you Gery.

    If things get tough it’s only a matter of time before decorative fans will emerge again. Karl Lagerfeld hello. I want a really big one in invincible material that with a little button zaps any spittle landing on the device.
    If we could make tasers – what about a portable electronic curtain?

    Where did we go wrong? Banning hijabs and burkas. We could all be safely ensconsed in them now. Six or ten meters of pleated fabric – face entirely covered. Whose fault is it that we decided to be almost nude?

    Take that you fashionistas. Bring back the eskimo parka, gear for the sub-arctic, mukluks, Stanfields woolies …

    No virus could stand six meters of merino wool.


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      I was thinking that, Marion. how a hijab would be the smartest attire just now.
      I’m so out of date I didn’t realize my mask has a Star Wars theme. Cool me.

      Thanks for following and for your steady feedback. You’re a writer, you know.


  2. Pauline James Curtis says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY GERY!!!!!!! Said with great enthusiasm and cheering!

    It’s most impressive you’ve taken to writing on your birthday.

    I loved the vision of you with the scissors, lying in your father’s arms….

    Hope your day is happy, fun and wonderful. Not sure it can be otherwise with Graham around and your sweet doggie.

    Incidentally, we’re going on a list for a smallish Labradoodle- either as Guardian parents to a sweet female or buying our own — probably as Guardians and then won’t get her until late July or early August.

    Take care and thanks for writing – you’re still inspired and inspiring 🙂 .




    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Thanks, P. It was a perfectly lovely day thanks to WhatsApp etc and Thai take out.
      A Labradoodle, eh….we didn’t know the first thing about them when we went looking for a calm dog that would be a happy companion for our old age. Herbert, we were told, was the most reserved of the litter. I can’t imagine what the rest are like. He’s a complete (adorable, happy) yahoo. I’ve dropped a clothing size keeping him exercised. There’s no wearing him out.


  3. Carol says:

    Happy Birthday, Gery! Enjoy your celebration in the Great Weirdness of 2020.


  4. marilynatlegacytelusnet says:

    Good one and I love your mask!


  5. Kathy Vinton says:

    Loved your memory of your Dad carrying you to the doctor, Gery. Those of us who had caring fathers are lucky indeed.
    I picked up the TC today too. What I noticed under the hopeful headline was reference to the Homes section: Ten ways to make your home office brighter and more soothing. That’s gotta be a note of optimism as we’re floundering in the gig economy!
    I hope you had some fun on your birthday … fresh air, dog walking, phone calls, all good!


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Thanks, Kathy. It was a perfectly fine day with all of that – dog walking, phone calls, FaceTime etc – plus Thai take out. Your note reminds me that, when life returns to a semblance of normal and we’ve both lived to speak of it, I’d love to see you.


  6. Rick says:

    Happy day after Gery! Love your blog as always. Jeez. You should be a writer! (haha).
    One thing though: Why is your work sponsored by Kepler? He died in 1630 at age 59. Maybe you could sign up Tycho Brahe (died in 1601, so approximately in your target age group.
    As you will recall he lost his nose in a duel and had a new one made of gold. Very classy.


    1. Gery Lemon says:

      Kepler sponsors it? I meant it to be Brahe of the golden nose. WordPress decides on these ads and there’s no $ benefit to me…maybe I should splash out and go for the real deal website, sans crappy ads. You think?


  7. rick says:

    no. always stick with the crappy ads. It worked for Jack Benny (39).


  8. ridykun says:

    Oops, missed this blog, Gery. Another great one. Thanks!


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