Marilyn Englander: Embracing Life

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As vaccinations climb and pandemic restrictions ease, many are contemplating how to make up for lost time and missed opportunities. Marilyn Englander has this Perspective.

It’s been a year of fear, trimming expectations and hoping to control fate. Chastising my kids to be careful, scolding when someone forgets the mask, scowling at rule-breakers - it’s been exhausting. And pretty much fruitless: people will do what they will do.

Now, two dear 80-something friends in Philadelphia, exhilarated by their vaccinations, announce they’re embarking on a 6000-mile road trip in a big rental RV. They’ll help their adult daughter and boyfriend move east from California. Never mind they haven’t driven anywhere in five years, let alone in a 32-footer. Overlook recent health crises and other frailties. Ignore the prospect of a crowded return trip with four adults, plus the couple’s four dogs and five rats ---in one RV.

They’re off--- East Coast to West and back in three weeks. White line fever!

Of course, I protested. Then I cajoled, reasoned, begged them to reconsider.

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What if...and what if...?

Then I shut up.

I thought of my late father. A go-getter and adventurer, he dove in the Red Sea, learned to ski at 45, trained to be a volunteer EMT in his 50s, paddled the Grand Canyon in his 70s. As infirmities multiplied in old age, he mourned losing his active life. Finally, at 85, he declared he was going on another scuba trip. In the warm Caribbean, he’d glide and dive, blissfully moving again. The family put down their collective feet, throttling his freedom, and he sank into depression. I regret our decision still.

What were we saving him for?

So, reflecting on the new horizons we all cherish, I’m thinking: embrace living. Too soon it’s all over. If my friends’ idea of freedom is to risk emergencies and misadventures far from home, let them spread their wings.

I wish them Godspeed sailing across the continent, free as swimmers in azure southern waters.
With a Perspective, this is Marilyn Englander.

Marilyn Englander is a North Bay educator.