On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Published in the Rains County Leader on June 9, 2020:

blackberry-cobblerA recent post on Facebook described a perfect example of how our attitude toward time has changed in the last few months. Around 8:30 one evening, the husband of a friend mentioned there were blackberries in the refrigerator that needed to be used before they ruined. About forty-five minutes later as she was putting a cobbler in the oven, he commented that they probably shouldn’t be eating something like that so late in the evening. Her Facebook post read “If he thinks I’m pulling a warm cobbler out of that oven and not eating a bite tonight, he has another think coming.” A later comment indicated that he did think again and that they both had some cobbler before bed. David and I go through a similar routine almost every night now.

Pre-isolation, we had a busy schedule. On Monday mornings we stopped by the church so David could upload Sunday’s sermon to the website and send it to the radio station, on Wednesday morning I went to Ladies’ Bible Study, and Thursdays mornings Bingo began at 9:30 at the Senior Center. Even on non-Bingo days, we tried to make it to the Center by 11:00. Lunch was served from 11:00 to 12:30, but everyone seemed to eat early, and by 11:30 or so the place was empty.

Alarm clocks didn’t figure into our retirement plans, so in order to be up and ready in

Kitty with toys

Are you exploiting me again?

time for all this plus the occasional meeting or other event that arose, we usually began our bedtime routine between 9:30 and 10:00. It took us a while to check door locks, turn off the TV and various other electronic devices, take nightly medications, brush teeth and so forth before actually climbing into bed – and it is a climb for me since our mattress is 14” thick. Then I would give Kitty her bedtime snacks, she would go fetch her favorite toys and bring them to bed with us, and David and I would read for a while before turning out the lights. This usually happened no later than 10:30 because, after all, we had places to go and people to see the next day.

streaming tvEnter COVID-19 – and everything began to change. First one thing and then another began to shut down and our son asked me to use curbside pick-up instead of in-store shopping. Eventually, the only thing left on our calendar was a twice weekly pickup of meals at the Senior Center and an occasional trip to the Brookshire’s parking lot. At first we maintained the same sleep schedule, and then the few programs we watched on network TV went into summer reruns early. We quickly ran through the moves we hadn’t seen on Amazon Prime and other streaming sites, so David checked to see what series were available. He found LOTS.

In the past, especially during bad weather, we have been known to binge our way through several seasons of an entertaining series in a weekend. But David, who handles the TV remote and apparently wanted to ration our new programs, limited us to one or two episodes a night. He found some old black and white westerns we both enjoy, so we’d begin the night with a romp through the Wild West with Gregory Peck or Audie Murphy before switching to our current series around 8:00. Most of the episodes are about 45 minutes, so two episodes along with pauses for bathroom or popcorn breaks brought us up to an appropriate bedtime.

Then some bad habits from my younger days began to surface. David’s habit has been to night-owlask what time it is when a something we’re watching comes to an end, and mine has been to glance at the grandmother clock and give him the time. However, I have always been somewhat of a night owl, and I still lie awake some nights until midnight listening to his rhythmic breathing. So when he begins making bedtime preparations, I sometimes lag behind. A couple of weeks into isolation when he asked about the time, I responded with, “Why? Do you have someplace you have to be in the morning?” He seemed a little surprised, but he smiled and asked if I wanted to watch another episode. I did.

The result of that little change is that we often get to bed a little later than previously, and instead of waking up between 6 and 7 am, we wake up between 7 and 8 am – unless Kitty wants some early-morning attention. On late mornings, breakfast may not happen until 9 o’clock, so lunch and dinner are both pushed back an hour or so.

No clocksSo far, everybody seems happy with the new schedule, and we’re watching the clock a lot less. The world is opening up again, though, so I don’t know how long this new routine will last. As the church gradually adds activities and other organizations begin to schedule meetings and events, the white board on our refrigerator is filling up with things to do and people to see.

I set an alarm this past Sunday morning so we wouldn’t miss the first meeting of Sunday School in three months. I also had a meeting on Monday morning to discuss the rescheduled Sesquicentennial Celebration. I’m looking forward to getting back to normal, but I’m not looking forward to returning to the slavery of the clock. Maybe until the Senior Center reopens and we have to be at lunch by 11:00, we’ll still be able to watch an extra episode once in a while.



Kitty’s Story

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

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