This morning, I made my fourth weekly trip to Walmart for groceries during COVID-19 pandemic. I don’t like getting older, and I don’t like this grocery process either. It feels sort of like being herded up like old sheep, but it’s nice to know they are trying to protect us.

I am one of the many senior citizens who choose to continue working, stay healthy and engage real life, rather than the vision that others project on older citizens. Sorry to disappoint them, but I still enjoy using my brain for more than weekly trips to a golf course and spending 30 days a year on the road to God knows where!

So this morning, I drove to Walmart, again, before sunrise, and felt the cold wind on my N95 covered face as I joined the herd of old sheep, but this morning was different.

There was a man, small like me, standing on his hash mark in line on the sidewalk. He appeared to be about my age, but not dressed for work, dressed more for cutting the grass. He did not wear a mask and was smoking a cigarette.

As we stood there, he kept glancing back and making quarter turns to look at me, dressed for an office job, wearing a protective mask and gloves. He had neither. I could tell that he wanted to talk to me, but I couldn’t talk through the mask and dared not take it off or move closer. His steely eyes told me that he desperately wanted communication, connection. I kept looking away, watching the moon and the planets align and anything possible to keep from connecting and communicating meaningfully.

It was at that point that I realized the loneliness of this pandemic. We all need connection and communication desperately.

Cold, lonely, waiting to buy food and drink, I realized how much we need each other .

Companionship and friendship are basic needs and right now, we have been robbed. Older folks feel it more deeply because they face isolation every day as the world tries to move on, without them.

Maybe they just don’t want connection with older folks because they know that, if they are lucky or unlucky, they’ll be there someday and know the loneliness of standing in the herd line waiting for the things they need the least.

So, to all my younger friends and associates, take and give friendship, companionship, involvement and kindness gratefully now and every minute. Some day it may not be there.

Chuck Pierce

Vilas

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