MORRILL MEMORIAL LIBRARY

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its-a-wonderful-life-screen-shot

It’s a Pretty Wonderful Life

its-a-wonderful-life-screen-shotAfter postponing my annual physical twice, then forgetting to reschedule it once I got the green light, the day of reckoning finally arrived.

The news wasn’t great. Not only have I shrunk half an inch, I have borderline high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Plus the hip flexor tendonitis from a few years back has returned with a vengeance. I knew I should have kept up those exercises. Old age, as they say, is not for sissies.

The first issue was easily addressed. I wore heels to work the next day and a lovely coworker told me I looked tall. Everything’s relative, I guess. Moving on to the more troublesome hypertension…

Among its hundreds of Library of Things holdings, the Morrill Memorial Library lends out a bona fide blood pressure monitor. It’s portable, painless, and easy to use. My primary care physician suggested I take my blood pressure twice a week and report back in four months. I’ve also been advised to follow a low-salt diet and cut back on nuts, red wine, crackers, and charcuterie. (At least there was no mention of giving up cured meats and cheeses!)

Continuing my preventive health kick I scheduled a colonoscopy, got a flu shot, and inquired about my second pneumonia vaccine (I have to be 65) and the shingles shot (not available at my doctor’s office). My hip problem is presenting more of a challenge. Not only am I occasionally caught limping, but sometimes the throbbing is so intense I have trouble falling asleep. My trusty PCP had one word of advice: yoga. Specifically, “pigeon is your friend.” 

I checked out as many books and videos on yoga as I could carry and prepared to reacquaint myself with Downward Dog, Warrior One, and Happy Baby. But where to begin? There was Yoga for Anxiety by Mary NurrieStearns, Yoga for Arthritis by Loren Fishman, Yoga for Women at Midlife and Beyond (I love a good euphemism) by Patricia Shapiro, and the dubiously titled DVD, Yoga for Inflexible People. Were they talking strictly physically, or…?  I was pondering the double entendre when all thoughts of pigeon flew out the window with the latest diagnosis. My husband Brad and I, along with my daughter and son-in-law, had all contracted COVID-19.

You never think it’s going to happen to you–until it does. We don’t fly, dine indoors, frequent hair salons, venture out without a mask, or attend parties, political rallies, or swearing-in ceremonies in the Rose Garden. But still.

Less than 24 hours after my close encounter with the cotton swab I was on the horn with Paul from the COVID Tracing Collaborative (CTC). An hour later he had obtained the names, addresses, birthdays, phone numbers, and relationships of anyone I might have come within six feet of for a total of 15 minutes over the past few days, masked or otherwise. I ruled out the possibility of having infected any patrons, thanks to the library’s guidelines on plexiglass partitions, social distancing, and time spent inside the building. To err on the side of caution, however, three of my colleagues had to quarantine as well. I have to hand it to Paul for leaving no stone unturned. A friend who also tested positive didn’t hear from the CTC for a week.

Family, friends, and coworkers checked up on us, which was gratifying. Some of the items our thoughtful neighbors dropped off included salt-free soup, chocolate chip cookies, quiche, Bloody Mary mix, and a thermometer. Oh, and a Fraser fir, which we can’t smell but it sure looks pretty, even without ornaments. Keeping the tree watered seems to be all I can manage so far.

The whole man’s best friend thing has never rung truer. Nicky, my furry lapful of canine devotion, doesn’t care that I have the coronavirus or haven’t showered in days.

At the advice of the best medical professionals we binge-watched with abandon. When we couldn’t handle another episode of The Crown and badly needed a break from The Queen’s Gambit, there was nowhere to go but up Schitt’s Creek. I was actually sad when the sixth season ended. And thank goodness for my other favorite time-suck, Words with Friends.

Slumped in an armchair with my feet up the other day, it occurred to me I hadn’t checked my blood pressure in a while. I slipped on the cuff, pressed the button, and awaited the usual result. For the first time in weeks it was normal.

Our days in quarantine have been solitary and sedentary but clearly low on stress. I know that feeling lethargic and a bit bored is a luxury denied millions of COVID sufferers. Although my husband’s headaches have persisted for over a month and I’m worried about my pregnant daughter, whose symptoms have also lingered, I realize we’re among the lucky ones.

As corny as it is, one of my favorite Christmas traditions is watching It’s a Wonderful Life. I love the lessons it imparts: count your blessings, comparisons are odious, and wealth cannot be measured by money alone. Brad and I blinked back tears at Clarence’s inscription in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: “Remember, George, no man is a failure who has friends.” The best part, however, is when a desperate George demands to know the whereabouts of his wife and Clarence blurts out, “She’s an old maid; she never married! SHE’S JUST ABOUT TO CLOSE UP THE LIBRARY!” As George confronts a terrified Mary we hear her blood curdling scream reverberate down Main Street.

While Frank Capra’s depiction of the spinster librarian may be a bit outdated, it’s impressive to note that the Pottersville Public Library was actually open on Christmas Eve. So is the Norwood Library, but only until noon. Be sure to stop by on or before December 24 to stock up on your favorite holiday movies. Or as a little present to yourself or your loved ones, borrow the blood pressure monitor which I’m pleased to report is finally back on the shelf where it belongs.

April Cushing is the Head of the Adult and Information Services Department at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, MA. Look for her article in the December 17, 2020 issue of the Transcript and Bulletin.

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