One of the Vulnerable

By FRANCINE HARDAWAY (6)

I will be 79 next month. What do I think? I think the country should open back up, albeit cautiously. I’m embarrassed to think that people have to up-end their lives for older people like me. For one thing I’ve lived a hell of a life.I’ve been around the world, I’ve been a mom, a foster mom, and a grandmother, and an entrepreneur besides. I have written a few crummy books.

As one of the vulnerable, I’ve been stuck in the house now for six weeks, learning every detail about the Coronavirus. I have seen only about half a dozen people who are part of my quarantine barrier: people with whom I walk my dogs outside in the morning, my roommate, my barista and the woman who sanitizes my home once a week. And that group is considered too risky for most, but I’ve always been a risk taker and I’ve known my housekeeper for 25 years. I know she will do her best not to cause my death.

What do I do all day? Mostly I exercise, walking or taking Zoom yoga. What do I wish I could do? Hang at the bar at Hillstone. When will I be able to do it? Safely, probably not for two years.

Right now Arizona is on lockdown but we are preparing to re open soon. Our case numbers are not declining although the increase has slowed. We are part of the wild west, and our social distancing is not as strict as California’s, or my daughter’s in London. For example, I took a walk along the canal near the Arizona Biltmore hotel on Sunday and there were couples laying in the grass near the putting green of the golf course. They were drinking mai tais and beers and reinterpreting social distancing in their own ways.

They were young and I’m sure they didn’t perceive themselves as vulnerable. There were also more than 10 of them and they were oblivious to the numbers. I was jealous. I don’t want to be one of the vulnerable. I wanted to join them and have fun.

When the state opens up again, however, I will still be sheltering at home. I don’t think that I can come back out until whatever comes after stage three. By that time, it will probably be time for the next wave of the coronavirus in the fall.

I feel blessed and lucky to have done all the things I’ve done.I don’t know that I want to make it difficult for younger people than it already is as they try to protect me. I want the country to open and I want to retain the agency to decide for myself, as I always have, what risks I am willing to take.

My life is my own. I have no problem taking personal responsibility. So I’ll make my own choices. Better hygiene makes sense, especially for me. Getting a manicure or a haircut right now doesn’t. Nor does sitting down in a restaurant.

Going to the supermarket is not a necessity for me, so it’s easy for me to blow it off. I have things delivered, as I did before the lockdown. The supermarket is not my version of Disneyland. I eat takeout. That’s worse, because the food is lukewarm. But I have restaurants I love, and I will try to support them. Yes, we put the food on a plate.

Going out in a mask is not comfortable, so I’m not tempted to go anywhere. For most of us, masks are a kind of virtue signaling, rather than a real precaution, because from what I’ve read of the virus particles they are small enough to get through these masks. I’m not willing to defy an order that helps others remember what to do. I’ll just stay out of public places

I’m a believer in the power of the immune system, and I eat, sleep, and exercise on a strict regimen to keep myself healthy so I can live as long as possible. In previous years I would not have given this virus a second thought, but I have been told now that I am one of the vulnerable. And I probably am. I really didn’t need to know that.

I’m not terrified of the virus. I have a DNI and a DNR and I’m not gonna take some bread winner’s bed in the ICU. I am going to do my best not to be hospitalized.I’m not gonna let someone tell me how to behave either — I never have.

I feel much worse for the young man who worked in the place where I get my dogs groomed. He has asthma and diabetes, and he can’t work there now, so he’s stuck at home without a life like mine to be grateful for.

I am, as a former entrepreneur and now independent contractor, terrified about what has happened to the economy. I don’t mind sheltering in place, but I do want to be productive. Surely there must be some way I can contribute some spare intellectual cycles to this effort. Sheltering at home should not mean rotting in place.

7 thoughts on “One of the Vulnerable

  1. Oh dear old buddy, you said a mouthful! WE are in the same boat and I ain’t ready to sink yet!! Stay well and as long as you can write and share with us cockers, that’s a great thing.xoxo

  2. I love your attitude, Francine.

    My favorite line (of many good ones in the piece) is this one.

    “I will be 79 next month. What do I think? I think the country should open back up, albeit cautiously. I’m embarrassed to think that people have to up-end their lives for older people like me. For one thing I’ve lived a hell of a life.”

    I wonder what they would Americans 65 and older would say if we took a coronavirus survey:

    – Open up the economy and save the country?

    – I’m terrified. Please help. Not enough is being done to protect us.

    – I’m not even worried. This is overblown. I’m planning my next vacation.

    – something else???

  3. Hi Francine, just wanted to say how much I look forward to your newsletters and writing. So for me you are providing tons of value and even though we have not seen each other in a decade or more, I still hear the same amazing spirit in you. Plus your willingness to share your vulnerability is so important, there are too many days where I personally struggle with the effort just to show up. Please know that you are loved and that I am certainly only one of thousands praying for your well being.

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