Gary, 79, Fargo, ND, USA

December 2020

Dear Family and Friends,

Lordy, Lordy, won’t it be wonderful when this horror of a year is in the rearview mirror!

We want to wish you Happy Holidays, and we hope that the wicked finger of this virus has not touched you or your loved ones or done so softly. We are still virus free, but Tim and Lisa have both suffered through the disease, and our grandson, Aaron, has also tested positive. They are all fine now, but Tim had some tough moments. It’s always traumatic when a loved one has been fingered by this curse.

The year began normally with a 5-day, storm-free, trip to Venice, Florida with a delightful interlude with Bill and Sandy in St. Louis; they would later get recompense with a week with us in Venice. Our first two and a half months in Venice were filled with fun, jazz performances, entertaining and being entertained, bird photography, delightful happy hours with friends, and compulsive secondhand store shopping.

Then the plague descended upon Florida and scared the devil out of us, paralyzing our activities. For six weeks we hibernated with only masked and gloved grocery store runs and careful happy hours with our next door neighbors, Karen and Delta. We did fit in a couple of anxious dinners with a few of our good friends. I stocked up on food, toilet paper, cases of wine, and cleansers.

We meditated on staying a few weeks beyond our intended exit date, since being on the road in those early weeks made us nervous, but we were getting so bored that the perceived dangers waned the longer we were cooped up. We finally launched on the road in late April and got home to a 14-day quarantine in the condo, though happy and healthy.

During the first weeks in Florida, we spent our time receiving visitors; Rachael came for 10 days, Tim and family for a week, Bill and Sandy’s for a week, Anne and Robert for several days, Gin for a brief stay. Unfortunately, the pandemic ruined our grandson Truan’s visit from the University of Nebraska, as well as Lynette’s scheduled couple of weeks. Fears of possibly giving us the virus prevented Rachael and Eric, who were staying at The Villages north of Orlando, from stopping for Rachael’s second visit, though they drove right by Venice on their way to the airport in Ft. Myers—they waved.

Because of the threat of the virus (and for several other reasons), we had cancelled our lovely apartment in Venice for 2021. This was a heart-breaking decision because of all the friends we have made there as well as the marvelous jazz venues and talents. We had adjusted to this sad fact and to spending a frigid winter in Fargo when fate tossed a curve at us. Rachael and Eric bought a charming new vacation home in The Villages in Florida. They now want us to navigate our way to their new place to help them furnish, decorate, and initiate these new digs. It will be tough to resist their invitation, especially if the virus calms down a bit.

Thanksgiving was depressing this year–no family celebration, but we did cook a good-sized turkey with trimmings, and Rachael’s family picked up leftovers on their way out of town from eating with the in-laws. Christmas is not likely to be any better in terms of a family gathering, especially since North Dakota was the worst place in the world to be for catching the virus for many weeks.

Both our children and their families are doing well, though the expected life-bumps occasionally occur. Tim and Lisa are prospering well in their careers, and Tim loves his job at DuHa; Truan is finishing up his final year at the University of Nebraska; Caden has a job and is flourishing at school; and Brit and Courtney are happily ensconced in their new house and life. Rachael and Eric are both working hard at the insurance game; Katie is living in Fargo and working at a local restaurant; and Aaron is attending Aurora college near Chicago on a golf scholarship.

We are feeling the burden of our 79 years with aches, pains, and occasional health scares, though still relishing and joyfully embracing life.

The pandemic has taught us some important lessons: the value of friends, family, and camaraderie; the pleasures of simple things like reading, cooking, TV watching, and baking; the necessity to appreciate life and people fully and intensely; and the fragility of life, democracy, and the expected pleasures of existence.

We wish you a healthy, joyful, success-filled 2021; it has to be better than 2020!

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