robert

Things I have learned in quarantine and in the middle of a global pandemic …

That my child’s favorite picture of me is that of a pirate wearing a patch over one eye and making the “arrgh, there, matey” face.

That the self-same beautiful child is now a growing, talented, bright young woman who can paint like Picasso, make French toast and strawberry crepes just like Julia Child, and otherwise worm her way into the cockles of your heart. That she loves her parents deeply and has discovered, along with her mother and father, the happy realization this bothersome, scary pandemic has actually brought our family closer. That said child now leaves her room to join us for meals and several rounds of card playing. Not to mention, she washes dishes and does laundry now — without being asked.

That each day the good Lord lets me live my heart is full to overflowing with gratitude and love for my Creator.

That the entire world seems to be bathed in a strange, wonderful new light.

That the woods, the fields, and pastures all smell cleaner, washed repeatedly with cleansing spring rain.

That these low wispy clouds seemed to have drifted in from another time and place when the entire universe was a good deal quieter, less hectic, rushed, and congested. That the Time Traveler has indeed entered a time warp of sorts, and the journey has not been all that disconcerting or disconsolate.

That my nearly-shoulder-length iron-gray hair is now approximating the length of country music legend Willie Nelson.

To my good fortune, my new next-door neighbor can play and sing the blues and occasionally puts on outdoor concerts in his driveway, social distancing rules fully intact. My lawn chair was a good 12 feet from the four people gathered to listen and tap their feet.

That our neighbor can play one of my favorite songs, “Glory, Glory Hallelujah” made famous by Mississippi Fred McDowell, and that he plays it on a rosewood 1953 National early electric guitar with a vintage amp that sends plenty of reverb, not to mention a good dose of the Holy Spirit, resoundingly throughout the neighborhood.

I have learned through this epidemic, that, in the immortal words of Mississippi Fred, I still have “Jesus on the Mainline.”

That I am deeply and profoundly still in love with my wife as the day I met her and that she still loves me despite the fact age is beginning to creep around my eyes and my mop of iron-gray hair is sometimes bushy and wild.

That, thanks to my wife’s special gasoline card, she was recently able to fill up her tank for 65 cents a gallon.

That I crave old episodes of the “Andy Griffith Show,” and laugh more uproariously at the antics of Barney, Goober, and gang than I ever did before.

That I am still able to reach out and talk with my 92-year-old father and my sister and share memories of my late mother with her granddaughter.

That my father-in-law plans to take our daughter fishing next Saturday.

That people don’t even give me a sideways glance when I greet them in a mask and gloves due to my diabetes and hypertension.

That it gives me great joy to keep a stash of cash to dole out to supermarket baggers who bring groceries out to the car. For a long time, I stopped carrying cash for fear of spending it.

That people seem to act nicer now — for the most part — and talk sweeter and actually seem to have rediscovered manners and kindness.

That long after this raging epidemic has subsided, when the days of pandemonium have slipped stealthily away into the fog of memory and become a distant, forgotten dream, and the monsters of the dark have shape-shifted into harmless shadows … that life will be all the richer and sweeter for it.

Things I have learned in quarantine, I have only yet begun to discover.

Robert Lee Long is Curator of the DeSoto County Museum