Tag Archives: Hope

What Captain Sir Tom Meant to Me

My wife was the first person to tell me about Captain Tom, a man in the UK nearing his 100th birthday who was walking across his small garden day after day to raise money for the NHS. At that time, things in the New York area, where we live, were at their worst.

I remember the disturbing sights of that time. What was odd about them was I’d just catch a glimpse of what was happening. I would wonder if what I saw was what I thought it was. I seemed to see more hearses than I used to, but then who could be sure? I saw a large trailer outside a medical facility in Greenwich Village…was that one of the trailers that held bodies?

Other things were less equivocal. I saw a white panel truck pull up in front of a funeral home in Lower Manhattan. They had evidently run out of hearses. And an ambulance seemed to pass our building almost every minute.

I asked my wife if she had ever heard so many sirens. Was I just imagining things? She agreed she’d never heard so many at once. This made me realize I wasn’t imagining. I don’t know if that made it better or worse.

At this time, I felt helpless to stop the catastrophe surrounding me, as I’m sure many did. But Captain Tom’s example from afar cheered me. Of all people, who would be in a worse position to help than someone who is 99 years old and frail? But he determinedly crossed his garden back and forth, unconcerned with whatever limitations he might face. He just kept moving. I think he gave a lot of us the courage to keep moving to.

And bit by bit, his seemingly small act made a huge impact. He raised 33 million pounds ($45 million) for the NHS, perhaps saving many lives.

At 99 years old, one would think he had already given all he had to give. He had served his country in World War Two and raised a wonderful family. Who would’ve thought that his greatest achievement was still ahead of him?

When he started his walk, Captain Sir Tom was still recovering from serious injuries from a fall that included a punctured lung! But he saw what he could do, not what he couldn’t, and set about doing it for the good of others. And if someone could accomplish so much at age 99, imagine what we could do as well!

Captain Sir Tom Moore showed me what one human being can do, even in the face of the worst things. He showed me that people cannot be stopped; that the human spirit can triumph over anything, if we try.

It’s a shame to lose him, but he was here when we needed him most.

Captain Sir Tom, we’ll miss you!

The Painting I Love the Most

I’ve always found Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon particularly beautiful. When you walk into the room where it lives in the Museum of Modern Art, it’s impossible not to be drawn to it. The bright, rose color, the striking jagged shapes, and the eyes of the women staring back at you always hold me rapt.

I particularly liked to go to MoMA during the wonderful Free Fridays, but last March the pandemic shut MoMA along with everything else. I remember being home at night, looking at the darkness outside, and thinking that inside that gallery was dark now too.

For perhaps the first time since it was made in 1907, no one was looking at my favorite painting. Perhaps a caretaker came by from time to time to check on it, and cleaning crews to sweep up, but aside from that it was alone. I missed it like a friend. And I wondered if it was lonely.

In the fall, I finally got the opportunity to see my old friend again. I relished looking at the warm colors and the beautiful figures. I was happy to be together with it again, happy to reclaim something of the life I’d had. And maybe the painting was happy too, to be admired once more.

My point: what we’ve lost, we will regain. Even more. Let’s be patient and look forward to that day. Everything we’ve loved before, we’ll appreciate more than ever.

Where I Was Last New Year’s

We have made it through a challenging year. And now I’m starting to reflect. Lately, I find myself thinking back to where I was last New Year’s, and where I’ll be next one.

As this year began, I was walking up the steps of a beautiful shrine in Tokyo, Japan in perfect blue sunlight. Just ahead of me were my wife and my sister-in-law, with her newborn in her arms. We made the traditional New Year’s Day visit to the shrine, where they asked for blessings for the coming year. Me, I mostly just looked around in wonder at the beautiful shrine and the clear blue above.

Today, my wife is in Japan again with her family, my family. I cannot be there by law. They won’t be doing the shrine visit this year because of the crowds. But they still plan to eat sushi at the same place we went to last year. 🙂

My little nephew is walking now. He actually remembered my wife! I wonder if he’ll remember me. Even if he doesn’t, we can start making new memories together.

At the beginning of 2020, I could never have predicted how this year would unfold. But here we are. We survived and we have new hope heading into 2021. We have not recovered everything we’ve lost…I cannot be in my second home with my wife’s family, nor can I go see my mother or grandmother. But the difficult days are, at last, numbered.

Where will I, where will we, be next new year’s? I don’t know. But I think we will have beaten this. And we will be feeling great joy at being together once again!

Until then, don’t give up the fight.

What It’s Like to Get the Moderna COVID Vaccine

About ninety minutes ago, my dear friend Laura* received the Moderna COVID vaccine. She’s the first person I know to receive the Moderna one, and she reports that she hasn’t felt a thing so far. No pain or side effects of any kind.

Laura works in a medical facility and got severely ill with COVID this spring. I’m very happy for her that she is now protected as she goes about her work of protecting others.

She sent me a picture she took right after, and she looked more happy and relaxed than she has in a long time. They even get a cute sticker to show they got the vaccine!

We hear a lot about COVID vaccines and their side effects, but now I know two people who have actually received one (another friend just got the Pfizer vaccine). Hearing directly from a trusted friend rather than a news report gives me enormous confidence and peace of mind.

Talk about hope for our new year!

*Not her real name

“medical syringes” by begemot_dn is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

My Friend Just Got the COVID Vaccine

My friend Lidia* got the Pfizer COVID vaccine on Saturday. She is the first person I know to receive it, and her experience was great overall. She said her arm was extremely sore, and she felt feverish for about 30 minutes the day after, but other than that she’s okay.

Lidia is 35 and works at a hospital, where she treats COVID patients. She has been on the front lines all year and, with the combination of a face shield and surgical mask, never contracted the virus. I remember being very worried about her this spring, especially when I heard about nurses wearing trash bags rather than gowns. But her facility had what it needed and she came through okay.

I am very happy for her. Maybe she can worry less now. And we, her friends and family, can breathe more easily too.

The side effects are real, but compared to a case of COVID, it sounds like a good bargain. My friend Jim*, who is the same age, had COVID last month and had headaches and body aches for two full weeks.

I can’t wait for my turn to get this wonderful drug! If anyone out there works at Pfizer, you got a steak on me. 🙂

*Not their real names

“Syringe 1 With Drops” by ZaldyImg is licensed under CC BY 2.0