A Look Back at 2020

I’ve been pondering for a few days what to think of 2020. Off the bat all the rotten things come to mind: virus, pandemic, death, sickness, heartache, depression, grief and everything that goes with it. I must admit that I’m battling to find sparks of good. Believe it or not, but I’ve mostly kept rather quiet about our personal lives this year. It’s hard to believe when you see me so active on Facebook. Here are my musings:

January: It started with me being very ill with pneumonia (3rd time in a year). I was at the urgent care clinic twice and on a load of medications to keep me going. I recovered, slowly. My container from South Africa arrived with all my most prized treasures from my parents’ house. There weren’t a lot of items, but everything had meaning and was very special to me. I still haven’t decided on the best places for the paintings. We had a quick visit from an old school friend of mine and we thoroughly enjoyed spending time with them. Another friend moved in with us for a few months while she got her life on track. I believe it was as healing for her as it was for me. My job started to get a little peculiar and we started going through evaluations which turned out to be very positive and we even got a small increase.

February: Rumours of a virus in China were floating around, but we carried on as if it would never get here and cause us any issues. How truly ignorant we were! I continued with book club meetings, socials and the usual scheduled events. Bear had a birthday, followed the next day by Greg’s birthday. We went out to a brewery to celebrate with Greg. Our neighbourhood happy hour group had our last in-person Tweetup of the year, unbeknownst to us! My job carried on as if nothing weird was happening although we knew something was up. We had an early Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday so I made pancakes as per usual. Lent started.

March: I went to a lovely exhibition at the St. Louis Art Museum – Art in Bloom, where various florists displayed an arrangement according to a theme. It was a lovely, refreshing day. I mailed off my application to get my British passport renewed. The virus is here in all its glory and my work closed down for the last 2 weeks of the month. We worked from home and I collected mail from the post office and took care of business at the office once or twice a week. We attended a work board meeting conference call and from that, we knew the proverbial brown stuff was about to be flung against the fan.

April: Work was open for the first few days while we tried to figure out what to do. We were told to apply for unemployment and continue to work from home until further notice. Greg closed his business for 2 1/2 months as required by the Health Department, and was able to apply for unemployment (of sorts) during this time. I filed for unemployment on April 5th. Easter happened and we had a lovely Easter Sunday with good food and a nice relaxing day. I started to prepare the garden for planting. We had our first Zoom Happy Hour for our neighbourhood association – took a little getting used to, but it was nice to see people.

May: Things were getting weirder with work. We weren’t getting any straight answers, calls were short and vague. We continued to keep the business running and made plans for the eventual reopening, whenever that would be. Our neighbourhood flea market was cancelled (darn it, I have lots of items set aside for that, now taking up space in the basement!). Our Neighbourhood Association Board meetings are all now virtual, as are the Board Orientation meetings that I run and our neighbourhood library book club. I’m starting to get used to Zoom. I started planting my gardens, but we had a late frost which killed it, so I replanted it. Twice!

June: Work was now in high motion weirdness and on June 17th when I was halfway to the post office to collect the mail, I got a phone call from the boss telling me “you’ve been terminated with immediate effect, come in on Friday to hand in your keys.” Just like that! Exactly like that. It was handled exceptionally badly, and I could spend hours telling you JUST how badly we were treated. We received no severance, no notice period, no thank you for your 11+ years. One thing I learned from that experience is that I will never, ever trust a non-profit organization that doesn’t have any business people on their board. They are a giant “bless-me” club and I want nothing to do with them. They have no idea how to run a business and can’t even write a simple business letter. Enough said about that. I guess it’s still a little raw. There were only 2 staff members, so we went in on the Friday and handed in keys and various visa and shopping cards that we used to keep the business functioning, handed over passwords and logins and left. Walking out was actually quite a relief. Now we knew where we stood, and the world was our oyster. I was angry for a few days about it but there was nothing I could do. Missouri is an “at will” state which basically means that an employer can fire you for no reason at all and doesn’t have to offer you any severance. Basically, employees are worthless nothings. I was mostly angry about the way it was handled than the actual firing. The office is still closed, and they still have no staff, but they are officially “operating.”

Still June: To take my mind off the work nonsense I decided to throw my talents elsewhere. I’ve always fancied myself as a bit of a writer and my dad was a great storyteller. When I was little, he used to make up bedtime stories to tell me, so I decided it was time to write them down. It took me 2 weeks, but I finally got the jist of the story down and started tweaking it. By the time it was finished, it had changed a bit and definitely improved. It’s a children’s book about a purple penguin called Percy who lives in Antarctica and is just starting his first day of being a postman. I’m hoping to self-publish on Amazon.

July: Usually in early July we travel up to Greg’s mom to spend July 4th with family, but this year we decided to stay home. The small town they live in wasn’t being very proactive about the virus and we didn’t want to take any chances. So, we spent a quiet time at home in our garden with me putzing around, writing and doing job searches, and Greg back at work. One of the things that was in the container that arrived from South Africa in January, was my mom’s collection of knitting needles. I had been looking for them for years and had found them shoved in a cupboard in the garage when I was clearing the house out. My mom was a great knitter, so I just imagined that if I knitted something with her needles, that I’d be just as good, right? Well, sort of… I found a knitting pattern for a small penguin and I tried my hand at making one. He turned out pretty well, and I will keep trying to perfect him – he’s purple, naturally! I feel like I’m paying a tribute to both my parents by documenting my dad’s story and making a penguin with my mom’s talents to honour them both.

August: I finally ventured out properly for the first time since mid-March and found a hairdresser I like and got my hair cut! I looked after a friend’s dogs and another friend’s cat for several days, going to their houses a couple of times a day looking after them and feeding them. I have a Segway Scooter and I got lots of rides in during that time. It’s nice to fly around the neighbourhood with no worries and I enjoyed that. More Happy Hours, and book club meetings all via Zoom. Aggie celebrated a birthday and Greg and I celebrated 17 years of remarkably interesting, wedded bliss! By this time, my garden was doing pretty well and producing some decent veggies. Every year I say I’m going to do things a little differently in the garden and each year I forget because I’m so eager to get everything planted. Maybe next year…

September: Greg and I both reminisced about our dad’s who both died in September 2019. I celebrated a birthday quietly (as I prefer) and Greg and I both got flu shots! That was a first for both of us. We also bought a new fire pit and hoped for lots of evenings outside around it. More Zoom stuff…

October: Everyone is getting very tired of the virus and many people are doing stupid things and taking big risks. Our new cases are spiking off the charts and our leaders are not taking control. The looming election is making people angry, bitter, rude, and hateful. I totally despise election years as it makes people totally irrational. October is usually festival time. Most festivals were cancelled, although there were one or two who managed to hold something. People flocked to them, new Covid cases rose out of them. I felt almost frantic about people who refused to wear masks. Masks = good. Covid = bad. It’s not rocket science. I also went back to my new favourite hairdresser and got a perm. Woo hoo, curls! Later in the month I coloured my hair, but I do that myself. We had a dentist appointment that had been postponed from March and escaped with no ill effects. We had our furnace looked at in preparation for winter and yes, more Zoom stuff. I also got the pneumonia vaccine.

November: Finally, the election! Greg and I got there early and the line was already out the door. It was a nice sunny day and thankfully no rain or snow. The line moved pretty quickly, and we were home in an hour. Then then nail biting began until we heard that Biden had won (Thank the Lord). Naturally, the losers were BAD losers and are still contesting it even though there’s no proof of any tampering. It really is like watching kindergarteners stamp their feet and hold their breath in a tantrum. I started baking cookies. Lots and lot of cookies – each batch was a different type. I usually send or take cookies up to Greg’s mom for Thanksgiving and Christmas for when we’re all up there, but seeing as most of us were staying home, I didn’t need to send so many, although I sent plenty. Thanksgiving was at the end of the month and we had one friend over to join us. We ate a lot, chatted with family on Zoom and watched a movie on TV. It was nice and quiet.

December: And here we are at the end of the year. I guess our biggest news of December was that we had a little Covid exposure experience. We went and got tested on Christmas Day, did the rapid test and we were negative, but the doctor was concerned that we may have tested too early and recommended that we do it again and that we do the regular test. So, 3 days later we went back to redo it. Luckily, we got the results the next day and again, we tested negative. Between Christmas and getting the final results, we were very stressed and anxious. Our brains made us feel like we had every symptom. I was convinced we were positive, and Greg was convinced we were negative. I need to learn to trust Greg! As soon as we got those results all our “symptoms” vanished. We Zoomed with Greg’s family again on Christmas Eve. It’s not the same as being there, but it was lovely to see everyone and hear all the familiar bantering that goes on. Our weather has been unusually warm and sunny, and we are yet to have snow. I was able to go into the garden and do some weeding. In December!! I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. Aaaand, more Zoomy stuff! Yesterday I cleaned the house thoroughly to get rid of all lurking germs, dirt and disease. It was symbolic too, as I felt I was sweeping out all the anger, frustration and heartache of 2020 in preparation for a calmer and more civilized 2021. I’m really hoping that 2021 isn’t getting ready to say “hey, hold my beer…!”

Just like everyone else, we missed out on being with friends, family, going to our usual haunts, feeling like we can go outside and go anywhere we like, missed vacations, birthday’s, holiday, festivals etc. BUT I’m so thankful to still HAVE my friends who are safe and healthy and ALIVE. I wouldn’t give that up for anything. Staying safe, being careful, wearing a mask, washing hands, sanitizing and socially distancing will continue to play a huge part in our lives, and I’m thrilled to be able to do that. It will get better. This will pass. We will move on and find new and different ways to entertain ourselves. I’m thinking that we might see a surge of new inventions come out of these various lockdowns. I am grateful to be alive and to have survived this dreaded year. I feel like 2020 was just an enhanced continuance of 2019 and I think we’re well due for a break of this new norm.

This is a very long blog, but I wanted to document it. I wish you all the happiest of New Years. You may not have the big moments you are used to for this New Year’s Eve, but make the moments you have special, intense, and meaningful. Make memories – good ones. You are responsible for yourself, so take responsibility and be responsible! God’s richest blessings to you all. Happy New Year!