Learning from youth during COVID crisis

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If you are in a glass half-full mood today, this one’s for you.

Over the last month I have found several reasons to be positive in a world currently enveloped in black crepe paper. For instance: I am learning things about my young adult children that are enlightening, such as that my daughter is a talented water colorist. She has recently cranked out a dozen or more paintings that are suitable for framing in our house. I knew previously that she was good, but I now know she is REALLY good.

Trying to cope with social distancing

I have learned that my son is more compassionate than I could ever hope to be. He has taken the responsibility for doing a number of daily chores for an indigent woman in Santa Fe who has no one else in her life willing to step up as he has. I’d like to think I would be as helpful as him, but I’d be kidding myself.

I don’t have to go to the grocery store for quick purchases. That is because being the old fogey in our household I am the most vulnerable to catch the coronavirus. I am reminded of this about 10 times a day. My argument that I am as healthy as anyone under our roof is totally ignored by my wife and kids. Even our three dogs and two cats look at me with a touch of sympathy, like my days are numbered.

I think I can get used to this, and am pretty sure there will be a period of “self-pity withdrawal” when this nasty virus decides it has killed enough of us and I have to return to being totally self-sufficient.

Our family has become closer to relatives in other states. There have been several group Face-time chats, even a talent show featuring singing, dancing, and other hard to describe exhibitions of bizarre behavior that loosely come under the heading of talent. I can’t imagine any other reason these would take place other than abiding by a stay-at-home mandate where everyone is bored to death and on the verge of chewing wallpaper.

The only talent I could come up with that worked in this odd format was to rattle off the alphabetical seating chart from my freshman year of high school at Gonzaga Prep. This always gets a rousing reception because it’s such a weird thing to have retained all these years.

The reason these 14-year-olds’ names have stuck in the one corner of my brain that still works is that every time another study period occurred back in the fall of 1963, the priest conducting that class would read off the names to mark attendance. That was necessary because my peers back then often cut classes and the constant roll call was seen as a deterrent. I could list all the names for you right now, but at Gaming Today we have a word limit.

I’m proud that my stretching and exercise program is on target. I haven’t missed a day since the body count started. Other family members are spot on with their regimens also.

I’ve checked in with friends and business associates far more often, and I’ve gotten out of my tedious routine of opening conversations with, “Hey, what are you doing?” That is because I know they aren’t doing anything but waiting for the resumption of normalcy or washing their hands. So I ask them what they plan on doing when they are allowed to go outside, and the answers are compelling. Some say they are going to Europe. One told me he’s moved up his retirement. Another said he and his wife decided to divorce, that the time quarantined together was intolerable.

I’ve gained a few insights in this month of isolation. It was reinforced that I not only love my family, but that I also like them a lot. They are fun to hang out with in close quarters.

I appreciate more than ever that my decision 33 years ago to leave real employment and a clock-punching 40-hour work week, was prescient. Although I hate having to pay my health insurance premiums every month, the liberation of working at home with no dress code and not having to face freeway combat twice a day is liberating beyond description.

Don’t get me wrong: there is very little about this pandemic to celebrate, but I somehow found 750 words on the bright side of it all.

About the Author

Jack Sheehan

Vegas Vibe columnist Jack Sheehan has lived in Las Vegas since 1976 and writes about the city for Gaming Today. He is the author of 28 books, over 1,000 magazine articles, and has sold four screenplays.

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