Did the virus take them?

In the middle of the night last Friday, the power went off. The luminous numbers on my clock radio disappeared, the flashing lights from the modem and internet connector boxes stopped and our house was in darkness. 

I checked the circuitry as I’d seen my husband do two days earlier when the same thing happened, only that time we were awake.

The same faulty section of the fuse box, the same disrupted circuit, which meant at least that electricity to the kitchen fridge and freezer stayed on.

In the morning, we began the slow process of switching off all appliances, pulling out plugs to find the culprit.

With no success.

Hopefully tomorrow, my nephew an electrician, might arrive with his tool bag and fix the problem. 

In the meantime, we have extension leads running up and down the hallway attaching to the various computers we use in this part of the house. 

This way at least, despite the partial power outage, we remain connected. 

A day without internet is hard enough. A day without a computer is ten times worse.

Almost as bad as the endless days ahead where we find ourselves confined to home. Though occasional walks for exercise are still allowed. 

Is this practice for old age? 

My mother in her final years spent almost every hour in her small room in the retirement village where she lived out the last fifteen years of her life. 

In the early days, when she occupied a small semi-detached unit, a one-bedroom brick veneered box, set among fifty or other similar boxes, she went out regularly for shopping, to visit friends, and to join social functions at the centre. 

After she hit ninety and began to slow down, she abandoned her mechanised travel chair and resorted to the dreaded four-prong stick to stagger along the corridors of her retirement village, back and forth from her single room for lunch and dinner and occasionally to see the local doctor who came into the retirement complex every week. 

My mother claimed to enjoy this life. She enjoyed the view from her chair onto a small courtyard lush with rose bushes and plum trees. 

My mother in her favourite seat , from where she once viewed her world.

In spring, a mother duck and her several babies took up residence in the courtyard year after year and the staff obliged by putting out one of those shell shaped blue children’s wading pools to give the illusion of a pond. 

The ducks took it in turns to swim around the narrow perimeter and in time the concrete on which the pool rested grew white with their droppings. 

My mother loved these ducks. The way they signified the passage of the seasons, cocooned inside her little room, surrounded by the memorabilia of her life. 

I thought of her again this morning when I began to consider the slowing down of old age, not that I’m there yet, not slowed down that is, despite my years.

This virus that coats our every thought gives rise to grim thoughts on the possibility of an earlier death, our own or that of others. 

It is as if no other form of dying exists.

We read the newspapers and when we learn yet another celebrity or dignitary has died, the first thought to come to mind: Did the virus take them?

Beyond the thoughts, we enter into survival mode. One day at a time. One week at a time.

And look forward to the other side, that foreign country, a future without the virus.

4 thoughts on “Did the virus take them?”

  1. We don’t have ducks. We do have a miscellany of birds Carrie’s taken to feeding, filming and photographing. There’re too many for me to keep track of or even recognise apart from one chaffinch with a clubfoot (actually it’s tassel foot) but often I get roped into naming them. All the seagulls, for example, are called Larry (Laridae) although I suppose some might be called Darryl—”Hi. I’m Larry. This is my brother Darryl and this is my other brother Darryl” (Bob Newhart Show)—and a group of five ended up being lumbered with Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mitch & Tich. The birds can be amusing especially the wee ones who feed and squabble endlessly on the windowsill but the deer interest me more. They started turning up in the early morning in the woods right outside our window—four at one time—and they’ve just kept coming back. I even caught a glimpse of three one afternoon. This started up well before the lockdown. I mean we’re used to seeing foxes stalking our streets but it’s unusual to see Cervidae so close to what we like to think of as civilisation; they’re skittish at the best of times.

    I don’t spend much time looking out of the window. The blinds are constantly closed in every room bar the kitchen and the side window in the living room where Carrie does her stuff. I know outside’s there and I’m not beyond wandering over to the window to see what the latest kerfuffle’s all about but I’m not pining for the world beyond. Even if the Internet went down for an extended period I have enough entertainment to keep me going for years without having to repeat anything. I would miss electricity more. No computers, no hi-fi, no TV. Ugh.

    1. No power is such a problem, Jim, It certainly brings the cold of the world inside. Fancy seeing deer outside your window. It sounds almost as though you’re in the country with a forest next door. And naming birds is such a wonderful idea even if you get them mixed up sometimes. Thanks, Jim.

  2. Hello Elisabeth.

    I like your observation, “It is as if no other form of dying exists”. So good you pointed that out.

    As we shuffle round our houses bleating about the petty irritations of isolation I think of chronically and terminally ill people. Each day is a trial for them, and now a wretched blight to factor in. We forget hospitals are already full with people who have illness other than Covid 19, and their situation continues – with the added burden of a new threat to existence.

    Feeling the current loss of control in our lives is unnerving, so for you to also lose electricity at this time is rotten luck. In our house it’s the hot water cylinder which chose today to die (first day of true Tasmanian winter temperature), so we’re chilly, unwashed and irritable here.

    Your blog has been a highlight in my week for several years Elisabeth, and reading your thoughts during these surreal times is a comforting connection. Hope power is restored soon.

    Wishing you resilience! Sally.

    1. It’s lovely to meet you here, Sally and heartening to read you take comfort from my blog. I was reminding my daughter of the great gas disappearance several years ago when the Longford gas plant exploded near Sale in Victoria. We were without gas for weeks and during that time could only wash in small baths with water heated in the kettle. No central heating either. So I commiserate with your lack of hot water, especially in chilly Tasmania. Thanks Sally.

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