Tidbits - December 31, 2020

TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY

BE GONE!
  2020, get the devil out of here!
  I guess, you have to go back to World War II to find the last time the lives of every single American was turned upside down, but at least in the 40s you could sit together at church, and hold family gatherings without the fear of catching a disease that could kill you.
  During the four years of World War II, 291,557 soldiers died on combat. This year, over 330,000 have died of COVID-19.
  Every aspect of our lives, dull or exciting, has changed.
  Think about it, holidays; club meetings; high school, college and pro sports; church services and Easter and Christmas cantatas; dance recitals; graduations; banquets; reunions; Christmas parades; Veterans programs; birthday parties; funerals; dining out, etc.
  We’ve had to adjust to drive-thru events. Those of us who have relatives in nursing homes have had to accept meeting through windows, and those with loved ones in  hospitals have had to adjust to sitting in parking lots, or seeing loved ones briefly.
  We’ve had to endure toilet paper shortages, of all things.
  We’ve had to learn new technologies.
  My Uncle Keith Parris in Spartanburg said he and Louise spent their first Christmas all alone, with no children or grandchildren visiting.
  Their granddaughter Sarah called them on Facetime, then she passed the phone to her sister Katie, her mother Melissa and her dad Kevin. Katie and Kevin have both had COVID.
  Keith said that worked out so well, they Facetimed their other two children and talked to all their families.
  Keith and Louise are both in their 80s, so you are not too old to learn.
  I have had first Facetime and Zoom experiences during the pandemic.
  I spent my first Christmas all alone, but don’t “Cry for me, Argentina.” I believe I’ve spent all the holidays and my birthday since March all alone.
  I was fine. I spent the day watching all my favorite Christmas movies, while keeping up with all my family and friends’ Christmas Day on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
  We did have family gatherings earlier, breaking Dr. Fauci’s suggestions, but none of us were sick.
  Many of us have changed our work habits. I have been working at home primarily, since March. I’ve used the three  locations I’ve been in since March, to mail an insert the papers. Yes, it has been fun moving.
  I’ve have gone from being one of the best dressed men (no brag, just fact) to being a slob, who wears jeans every day, except when I go to Greenwood on Tuesday to pick up the papers. I need to look official when I go to the city. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to “dressing up” everyday.
  I still dress up for church. I have all these suits, sports coats and ties, and I’m not going to waste them. My suit pants have shrunk during the pandemic for some reason, however.
  COVID knocked the “powerful” Gamecock football team out of a bowl game. We all know a 2-8 team does not deserve to go to a bowl game, but with so many teams opting out of the season, there weren’t enough left with winning records. The Gamecock men’s basketball team has only played three games due to COVID issues.
  I’m sure if any of the Final Four college teams develop COVID cases, the games will be postponed. What else have they got to do?
  The Abbeville-Marion 2A state championship game was postponed for a couple of weeks. The High School League said if the teams didn’t get better, the two teams would be declared co-champions. Unfortunately for Marion, the teams got better and Abbeville won in the blowout.
  It seems the pandemic has magnified the number of celebrities and sports heroes who have died. It’s probably not any more than usual.
  In the last few months, three of the greatest pitchers in baseball history have died. There were wide differences in the way they pitched.
  Bob Gibson of the Cardinals was a fireballer, Whitey Ford of the Yankees was a finesse pitcher, and Phil Niekro, who died last week, was a knuckleballer, who humiliated some of the best hitters in baseball history. You rarely see batters laugh after they strike out, but Niekro would have hitters screw themselves into the ground, trying to hit the slow ball that didn’t spin.
  It seems we have had an inordinate number of community leaders die this year, also. What makes this sadder is few of them had public funerals or visitations.
  We have had two former executive directors of the Chamber of Commerce die during the pandemic, Jimmy Ward and Joan Perkins.
  I was the first president of the newly organized Chamber of Commerce in the early 90s. The board voted to hire Jimmy as executive director and Carol Williams as executive secretary.
  Carol died last year, and playing the piano and singing at her funeral, ironically,  was John Bennett, who died two weeks ago.
  When I paid tribute to John, I centered it on his “Country Christmas,” but many of us know what a tremendous musical talent he was.
  He could “tear up” a piano, and  he played everything by ear.
  I was saddened to learn Ben Rauch, who used to work on our dairy farm, passed away a few weeks ago at 82. Even though it has been over 50 years since we milked our cows together, we always talked about those days every time we saw each other.
  My brother Jamie’s family has been hard hit in the last few months. His daughter-in-law Allie’s father Geri Padget died November 2, his wife Allison’s father Stephen Druley died December 9, and his son-in-law Ryan Cole-man’s grandmother Nadine Richardson died December 19. Please remember them in your prayers.