My grandfather was born in 1910. He was a larger than life figure to me. He was an accomplished businessman and an accomplished storyteller. He laughed heartily at his own jokes. My wife, Mary Lou, learned that he only teased those he loved. He teased her a lot.
Joe Beall saw many changes in his almost 90 years and we loved hearing stories about how the world had changed during his lifetime. He lived through the Depression, World Wars, and the economic challenges of the South.
Granddaddy Joe was a calming voice in what I considered to often be a turbulent world. He never seemed afraid of anyone or anything. However, he never met the Coronavirus.
I now know quite a few people that have been infected by COVID-19. They range from the elderly to the young. One is exactly my age. A couple of them died from complications from the virus and I still pray for one friend that remains in the ICU. I give thanks for those I know that beat the virus and have returned to a somewhat normal life, whatever that is these days.
I am making notes of my life during this extraordinary time, because we may not believe our own memories after it is all over. I realize that the impact on ML and me may be different from others. We all have our own story.
To begin with, I am amazed at how many friends I have with children, siblings, and family in the healthcare field. I am even more amazed at how many of those work in COVID wings or ICUs. I wonder how these parents cope, but then I see the pride in their eyes even as I hear fear in their voices. They raised children who became true heroes.
I continue to be thankful for our front porch that has become the center of our universe. The sight of so many walking by our house is encouraging and uplifting. It gives us hundreds of reminders each day of what normal was, and is, and will one day be again.
Mary Lou and I eat together every meal. Our prayers are more detailed. After all, we have a lot to pray for these days. My taste buds seem to be more sensitive, probably because I do not eat nearly as much processed food as I once did.
My ears seem to hear so many more birds, but maybe that is because the background noise has largely disappeared. I suppose the birds were singing all along. We just could not hear them.
On my morning walks through Auburn’s campus, I remain eerily alone. Some days I may not see a dozen people, but every single person that I do see says hello or waves their hands. We have become more of a family. We are all in this together. Even the young, seemingly invincible ones have begun to acknowledge the power of this virus.
It helps we are beginning to hear more good news. Thankfully, the New York area seems to be improving. We hear encouraging stories at the end of most national news programs. That is good. We need more hope.
I have added to my prayers a plea that we be guided by science and not by politics, though this current situation is much more complicated than that. We need to get back to work. Easing the restrictions too early may make things much worse. No easy answers, for sure.
We miss our family, parents, children and grandchildren. I miss my friends. I miss our social life and sports. However, I am willing to do what I must do to make things better in the future.
My grandfather saw the world change before his eyes, but it pales in comparison to the accelerated changes that have been occurring in our lives. I suspect we have not seen anything yet with regards to the approaching alterations in the way we live day to day. That does not frighten me. We are an adaptable people.
I wish I could hear that calming voice of my Granddaddy Joe one more time. I wish I could hear his laugh. Then I would know that everything is going to be just fine.
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org