Saturday, January 2, 2021

2020 in Review

My Sister…The Devil wrote a 2020 retrospective post; and, not to be outdone, I decided I would take a look back as well.

As tempting as it is to declare 2020 a total loss, a glorious example of Turd Theater writ large, the sinking of the Titanic brought back to life, etc., that is not entirely fair to the actual performance of 2020 as opposed to any other arbitrary time period in history. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for a repeat of 2020. I am just enough of a pessimistic realist to know that history/karma/The Great Spaghetti Monster is out there lurking in the wings waiting to say “Here, hold my beer and watch this!”

So, let’s start off with the really craptacular aspects of 2020 from the perspective of Castle Daddy Hawk.

January – Oma went on Hospice care due to her Alzheimer’s. This was really a good news / bad news situation. On the one hand, it was long overdue. On the other hand, I had to all but force it down Opa’s throat with him kicking and screaming. While I can’t say enough good about the Hospice folks and the things they were able to do for us, I really wish they could have done more for us. We were at the end of our rope by that point (which was no fault of theirs), and we should probably have pulled the trigger on that decision about 3 months earlier than we did.

February – One of our cats, Binky, was not feeling well. So, a vet appointment was arranged; and, silly me, I thought they would give him some antibiotics and send him home. Turns out he was positive for feline leukemia and anemia. The vet really didn’t even offer any other options beyond euthanizing him. He was not even 2 years old yet. So, that was a bit of a downer.

March 1 – As previously written here, March 1 dawned with Oma shuffling off her mortal coils. As expected as it was and as much of a blessing as it was, losing a loved one SUCKS no matter how you slice it.

The rest of March and into May – COVID lock downs and toilet paper hoarding. Need I say more?

Actually, I will say more. Opa, in addition to some chronic physical health issues (which he will do nothing about), has more than a few quirks. His most serious quirk, bordering on mental illness (actually I think he qualifies for full citizenship but I’m not a licensed mental health professional), is INTENSE germaphobia. One side effect of this issue is a profoundly wasteful use of paper products. Specifically, toilet paper and paper towels. He goes through about a roll of paper towels a DAY for various uses including touching anything that he thinks might have germs on it including the freshly washed dishes in the dishwasher, he tears off the first layer or two of toilet paper and flushes that down the toilet before using the next several layers of toilet paper to cover the seat (since he has to share a bathroom with others) not including the unknown amounts he uses to wipe his own bum,….you get the idea. He refuses to shower on a regular basis and instead uses baby wipes by the box full to wipe down with. So, despite repeated warnings that paper products were in short supply, it was a constant battle with him to keep the house supplied with TP and such. So, pretty much anytime we found useful paper products, we were stocking up and hiding it from him. No, I am not ashamed in the slightest for doing so.

One other side effect of Opa’s germaphobia is that he now refuses to go out in public for ANY reason because he is afraid of COVID. He refuses to go to the store, pump his own gas or pretty much anything else. He waits until the last possible minute to ask The Queen or I to get him what he needs and then acts offended when we get frustrated at him or advise him that his lack of foresight does not create an emergency on our part requiring us to change our plans. This will be revisited shortly.

April – if losing Binky was unexpected and unpleasant, waking up one Saturday morning to M&M’s beloved rabbit Taco being unexpectedly deceased was a whole new level of suck. M&M LOVED that bunny. To be honest, we all did. He was outwardly in good health, and it was a complete shock when M&M came in the kitchen sobbing uncontrollably. We all still miss him terribly.

May and June – Aside from the continued insanity of COVID restrictions, the stress of caring for and losing Oma caught up with The Queen causing her health to crash and burn. Among other issues, she developed Tinnitus which drove her absolutely mad.

July and August – DID. NOT. HAPPEN. They were the months that henceforth shall not be named nor discussed.

September – During August, Opa finally went to visit the home of my brother-in-law for an extended stay that lasted most of the month. It was a welcome break for The Queen, M&M and I (In addition to being generally stubborn and set in his ways, Opa has been having quite a bit of difficulty adjusting to life as a widower. That makes for many frustrating situations. He is, in many ways, trying to fill an Oma sized hole in his life and frequently crosses lines he should know better than to cross.). Sometime during that visit, Opa got sideways with my BIL’s wife and harsh words were said. The net result of that confrontation was that Opa, who had originally agreed to go with BIL and wife on the annual fall church festival trip and plans made by all accordingly, decided he was not going after all. He waited to tell us until less than 2 weeks before departure. He also started dropping hints, subtle and not so subtle, that he wanted us to invite him to go with us. Due to his health issues and the ongoing challenges with The Queen’s health, his going with us was simply not an option given the distance we were traveling and the limitations his physical issues put on his ability to travel. So, we managed to prep the house for him to operate solo before departure and bid him farewell while praying very hard that there would be no disasters upon our return.

October to December – more of the same more or less. I’m not going to discuss the election. I don’t even know where to start with that mess, and I’m not even sure how to sort out fact from fiction on that front. 

On the positive side of things, there is still much for which to be thankful.  

First, Oma is finally at peace and awaits God’s Kingdom. She had been gone (mentally) for at least a couple of years; however, her physical shell had deteriorated dramatically in the last six months of her life. As I mentioned earlier, it was a relief as much as it was sad to see her go. The Queen, while sad to lose her mother, has been handling the loss extremely well having had several years to get used to the idea that her mother was dying.

Second, with COVID, my company made permanent what I had been doing unofficially and unsanctioned already: working from home. It started with the company sending everyone to work from home in mid-March. Due to the year’s financial challenges, the company decided to radically reduce its real estate footprint. To that end, all small to medium sized offices in the company were closed including the one to which I was assigned. So now, not only do I get to officially work from home permanently, the company is picking up the tab for my internet too. That’s a nice little benefit.

Third, as suggested by the second, I’m still gainfully employed and didn’t have to miss any work because of COVID. That’s not nothing. The company was strong enough to finalize an acquisition of another similarly sized company too. So, while we missed some financial targets and there was a voluntary separation program offered to those above 55 and with at least 5 years with the company, the company should be around for a while yet.

Despite all the challenges with supply chains and hoarding, we were blessed to never miss out on any necessities. I will count that as a win.

Summing things up, 2020 could have been much better and could have been a lot worse. For 2021, The Queen and I are trying to finalize and implement some long discussed plans which have been on the back burner for far too long. Further updates as events warrant.

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