From the Editor

“Keep Calm and Carry On”

I had been rather excited on February 27, of this year, when I received an email from the Smithsonian, announcing that on April 4th, they would be sponsoring “Free Museum Day”. You know how much I look forward to this day in September, though it usually conflicts with the Free Admission Day, at the National Parks. I so love when I can do both!

I would have shared it immediately, but I wanted to give the “Free this Month” column, the proper attention it deserved. I did not imagine that by April 4th it would be all but impossible to find a museum open to visit. Our lives have changed; taking stock seems to matter more than it has since September 11, 2001.

We knew, when we were in Florida, last month, that things were becoming more serious, and that if travel was going to be restricted, as it had in China, in an attempt to contain the coronavirus, we would be more comfortable in Maine. Thus, as the news grew more dire, we knew it was time to head back to Maine, if nothing else, there were groceries to be bought, and I wanted to see with my family.

I have no idea when I will visit with them again, but I am thankful I invited everyone over, and was able to share my treats from Florida with them. Also, so very happy I was able to see my sisters twice that week!

Though we did not see everyone we wish we had, while in Florida; happily we were able to visit with so many of the people which we love.

Actually it has been that type of year, almost to the month; I am amazed and grateful at all of the people we saw, in our road trips last year and were able to entertain, either in Florida or Maine. For each of us, the restrictions placed on us regarding travel and the size of group interaction vary, but limited we all are, at least for the duration.

But oh what a year it was, leading up to these days; I am very thankful to have been able to spend time, in person, with so many of those whom I care about; and I am happy that we were able to make so many stops, taking countless photographs and going to the kinds of places, which I enjoy sharing with you. Also, we re-visited a few places, mostly unplanned, but well photographed this time. If I have to unpack and hang up my camera, for a bit, I will be okay to continue with these pages. I have many adventures I would like to share with you.

But constraints on travel and interaction are only, perhaps, the most obvious change we are dealing with this spring. Lately, the statements about who has tested positive, have once again dominated the news. It is hard not to be reminded of the late 1980’s, when the words “tested positive” were succeeded by aid’s; in those pre-‘cocktail’ days.

I remember living in Long Beach, California, mostly carefree, though I certainly did not think so then. I was working at Walden Books, which is no longer around, discovering what my “grown-up” life was going to look like, and repeatedly reading or hearing that someone else, both in the world of the rich and famous and just an everyday Joe next door, had aids and would most likely die. It is hard to listen to names and details about their lives, of these latest victims of coronavirus. I cannot help but spend time thinking about what might have been, who will make their contribution now, what might the world have been like if they had lived, and continued to enrich our world?
It is hard to believe we are back in that reality; oddly once again the powers that be, have told us if we restrict certain behavior, we have a chance to not get sick. Yet, humanity seems determined to push the envelope, regarding what the word no means. How can we not be grieved?

There all kinds of sacrifices being asked of people, prompting many of us to think of what we have read about during war; mostly World War II, but that may be a culture reference for me, filtered through Western Civilization, my age and being a historian. The consequences for ‘throwing caution to the wind’, as it were, remind me of that quilt; yes, the quilt.

When it came to Long Beach, we took the girls to see it; not because it was a happy or fun thing to do, but because I knew it mattered, and I knew I had been blessed by parents, who always made sure I saw whatever mattered where ever we were; I felt an obligation to share that legacy. I will never forget seeing the quilt, laid out on the ground, and understanding that every name represented a life lost. Many of those people had died before it was understood how aids was transmitted; and there was nothing they could have done. But others knew, and still chose to follow their desires; not thinking about those who would bury them, and spend a life time mourning their loss.

We are back to a world, where our behavior matters; the difference this time is that our devil may care choices now impact others, as well as ourselves. How can we not have learned?

Can we blame a younger generation, one that did not live through aids; I wish that were the answer, but this reckless behavior seems to be ageless.

Deep breath, there is nothing I can do about anyone else’s choices. Right now my biggest regret is that I wish I had bought more generic greeting cards. I know that is kind of a silly thought, but I really do wish I had a stock pile of cards. What I know, as I sit here in in this state of quarantine, is that tomorrow really is not promised to anyone; I have seen too many people die before their time. Aids, Oklahoma City bombing, 9-11, the loss of both of my parents, Aunts, Uncles, friends . . ., life is short and can end too quickly. I do not want to waste my life or have regrets; I want to make sure that I never again fail to send Easter cards, even to my friends that are Jewish, Muslim, atheist, and yes the Christians too. I wish I had bought more cards last year; they are always on sale after the holiday. I have no excuse.

So April 4th is free museum day; I doubt any of us will get to go. I imagine they will reschedule it, most likely to coincide with Free National Parks day, in September. Happy Easter, whether you celebrate Easter or not, I still wish you a blessed and peaceful Resurrection Day.

Whatever your issue, get over it quickly, there is so much to live for and celebrate. If you are mad, perhaps, you are out of something, or you have been laid off . . . , I get it and I truly sympathize with you, but as my Mother would have said, scratch your mad spot and get glad; find an alternative to what you are missing, and know you will find another job. Do not let the troubles you are facing, rob you of life you could be living. That is all for now.

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