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COVID-19 is like dental implants...

Edging back from a full shutdown to -- not normal; it’s too soon for that -– something near the outskirts of the suburbs of greater metropolitan normal, is like getting a dental implant.

Implants take time. You don’t break a tooth, go to the dentist, and come home with a shiny new tooth that same day. The schedule runs more like: you break a tooth, see the dentist, and learn your broken tooth is totaled. The dentist refers you to a dental surgeon, who explains everything and requires many signatures. Then you return to have the remains of your tooth extracted, and you go home to heal. Weeks later, a titanium post is planted in the otherwise empty socket, and you go home to heal. More weeks later, a screw is inserted and, you guessed it, more healing. Finally, the replacement tooth goes on and bingo, you have a tooth again. The whole business takes at least six months. Maybe longer; I stopped counting.

My point is, an impatient person is bound to suffer, because the healing stretches are as much a part of the process as the appointments. The only thing to do is go about your life and try to forget the ongoing dental saga.

That’s how the virus is like implants. It won’t be hurried. Huge time chunks are part of the process, and if you rush things, chances are you’ll be infected and have to start over.

With this knowledge, I was patient and careful. My daughters and their families, yea, even unto the extended, loving and lovable in-laws, followed the guidelines and waited for healing. But finally some sanctions were lifted. I put on my face mask, sanitized madly, and filled my book bags with juicy reading: James Stevenson’s Mudflat stories, hilarious tales of human frailty told through animals (including snails, birds, and butterflies) with such names as Megan, Dorothy, Ashley, Hobart, and Duncan; Matthew Cordell’s Another Brother, a favorite my grandchildren had asked to read again; several unknown quantities that looked promising; and, to my great delight, The Underhills, a new tooth fairy book by Bob Graham. (tooth-fairy children April and Esme go to the airport to collect the tooth of a young girl from Ghana).

Most of our reading sessions have been outside, on a screened porch, or, in the case of my granddaughter, in a “fort” she built just off her front walk, more or less under a bush. The fort was furnished with a plastic carrying case, a flashlight, snacks from the garden, several stuffed animals, and two umbrellas to soften the sun on a recent ninety-two-degree day. Passersby glanced at us with amusement. The amusement was directed mostly at me, the besotted grandma, as we read books and munched on cherry tomatoes.

My younger daughter brought her sons to our farmhouse on a recent Saturday. The boys’ first priority was digging in the compost, but they had been so long away they dashed from one project to another, following the Siren call of the farm machinery out back (not ours, but they’re allowed to inspect), nailing boards together and, in the case of the seven-year-old, learning to use a floor jack. He demonstrated his ability by lifting first, a spackling bucket filled with water and rocks and then, me. We all ate popsicles and ice cream on the back porch.

And we read. Oh boy, did we read! My four-year-old grandson and I raced through the bookbag, reading every last book, to our mutual contentment. (I’d read most of the books to his brother earlier that week.) When the bag was empty, I rummaged through our own book collection and found Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big by Berkeley Breathed and Olivia, the first of Ian Falconer’s familiar but much-loved pig books. My older grandson joined us halfway through the Fudwupper story, and at both boys’ insistence, I finished the book and immediately re-read it.

Now I have a new bag of fresh books, and I’m itching to visit my granddaughter. If that means sitting in the full sun with a stuffed giraffe and a flashlight, I’m still all in.

Margo Bartlett
Margo Bartlett
Margo Bartlett wrote, copy-edited, and proofread for newspapers for nearly thirty years and currently does occasional freelance writing and editing. She previously worked for a school book fair company, which offered her the chance to catch up on children’s and YA literature, her favorite genres.

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