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:
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.