Seemingly Overnight | Mark’s Remarks

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Is your head spinning?  I remember when I first heard of this coronavirus. My students were watching our daily 10-minute news clip late last year and they were discussing it. 

Never did I think we would be dealing with it so close to home.

Last week, I was still treating it with a tongue-in-cheek attitude. My son, who works at his college switchboard, is always warning me not to prank call him at work. I was planning on using my best southern twang (he goes to school in southern Missouri) and pose as a concerned parent, wondering if “You’uns was gonna shut ‘er down.”  

As I was fashioning my latest prank to embarrass yet another one of my children, said son called me and said “Dad, they are shutting the college down.”

Within four hours, my son was home, large amount of laundry in tow.  

“I brought my groceries home because I didn’t know how long they would sit there in my dorm,” he commented.

I was picturing freezer items and the like, but was surprised to find Oreos, peanut butter, a loaf of cheap white bread, crackers and Pop Tarts. These are the staples of a college student who can’t make it up in time to have breakfast or other meals at the cafe.

My oldest son, soon-to-be married, is off apartment hunting with his fiance so that they will have a place to stay as they move away and start their life together. He too sent a message about his “change in plans” and I was relieved to hear them both laughing and being light-hearted.  

It’s easier to have a crisis when you’re soon-to-be a newlywed, I guess.

Michelle and I were processing many things; the thought of suddenly having all four kids at home, feeding two men we haven’t fed for long periods of time in a while, stocking the fridge and freezer, working from home or on an abbreviated schedule, and somehow keeping everyone happy and avoiding cabin fever.  

We started thinking about things like rubbing eyes that itched or sanitizing our door knobs and light switches. Michelle threw an alcohol wipe at me last night and told me to wipe my phone off. I trimmed my possibly germ-laden fingernails before they were even ready to be trimmed and considered buying some type of germ fogger – especially after one of the kids came down with a 24-hour stomach bug.  

Suddenly, my tongue moved from my cheek.  I considered biting it a few times.

Our church service was on Facebook Live this past Sunday and we spent time looking at the calendar, moving functions and appointments or cancelling them all together. A trip to grandma’s was put in limbo knowing we might not have enough groceries, toilet paper or time at the local diner to make the trip comfortable.  

At school, we scrambled to put links and things online so that kids could stay engaged for the next couple of weeks. We hoped and prayed that some would show up Monday so that we could at least hand them a chapter book or two to read.

I told my students I might make videos to post each day to show them what “bed head” hair looks like when I wake up in the morning.

Heck, you gotta do something to get them to tune in.

We are now faced with choices and opportunities, it seems. How can we make this situation positive? How can we help one another? Who needs the most help? What should we do first?

I am hoping that we don’t simply look at this as a binge-watching, junk food, sleep-late Spring Break. I’m in hopes that we experience what it’s like to come together the way communities can come together. 

I am very optimistic and I think we will be grateful for the lessons that this crisis will teach us.

Blessings to you all.

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