Kiesa Kay
Contributing Columnist
Tag! You’re it!
We played together all year long us cousins, ice skating on Gardner Lake in the winter, swimming in Gardner Lake in the summer, diving and surfacing again and again.
The last time we all got together was at the house we all remembered as Grandma and Grandpa’s house at Gardner Lake, to celebrate the passing of Larry Dean Webb, a handsome and kind man who fell sixty feet as he cut down a tree in town. The industry improved some protective gear after a few deaths like his, and oh, how much we all loved him. He loved hard, worked hard, played hard, dreamed hard, and he had the softest, kindest heart of all of us, and a great sense of fun. Determined to meet again in happier times, yet scattered across sixteen states as grown-ups, we cousins planned a Fourth of July reunion – a mighty party, with rides on the pontoon boat, the canoe, and the rowboat.
It may or may not happen now. The coronavirus has changed everything. One cousin has started working two full-time jobs in Missouri as a mechanic, so he can support the family members who’ve lost their jobs in the restaurant industry. One of the Texas cousins works at Walmart, which recently instituted new rules about one-way aisles and only five customers for every thousand feet of floor space. A Colorado cousin, employed in education, now works from home from dawn to dusk, using Zoom, telephone, and other meeting platforms. A Minnesota cousin does double duty on her job, going into work to a vast, quiet place where most people have been laid off. One Colorado cousin who painted cars and trucks for a living has been laid off. A North Carolina cousin had play performances and workshops cancelled as the venues closed, one by one.
We pray for our children, mostly grownups now. Two of them have been exposed to coronavirus at work, and one has gone into quarantine. One works from home, while another goes to work every day, driving home along dark and empty streets.
We pray for our parents, many already struggling with health and aging issues – cancer, Alzheimers, high blood pressure, diabetes – yet full of life, hope, and vigor as they face this new challenge. The Henderson family descended from Highland warriors in Scotland, bodyguards to the king, and all the women had second sight. On the other side of the family, we come from a long line of dancers who know how to squeeze the last drop of fun from any situation. We all love big.
Every family has been hit hard by this virus. As families gather for Passover and Easter celebrations this spring, they do not gather face to face, but through Skype, Zoom, and phone calls. It’s the wrong time for a road trip. We have lost the ability to hug each other.
Remember freedom? Tag! You’re it!
As we flung each other across the grass in games of swinging statues, we had no idea how far apart we’d land. In times like these, with a pandemic surging, we need and miss each other in whole new ways. The family reunion has been postponed till further notice, but the love we share transcends time and space. We’ll meet again, if not this year, then the next one – next year, at Gardner Lake.