Monday, December 07, 2020


Constant drone from my gasoline generator is annoying this dark morning but I’m glad to have it. I’m warm. I’m drinking hot coffee, and I was able to take a hot shower this morning. I wish now, however, that I’d invested in one of those propane ones that goes on automatically when power goes out — and one of those big, submarine-shaped tanks to go with it. They’re much quieter and propane is relatively cheap when purchased in bulk for a tank you own. It’s day two of the latest power outage and I’m thankful again for electricity as I always am when I lose it and have to make my own.

My wife and I went to bed earlier than usual last night. There was no news to watch, no streaming video, no internet. We sipped wine and talked for a while by candlelight, but the drone from the generator disturbed the silence we both enjoy so much. I shut it down and we brought flashlights up to our bedroom thinking we would read before nodding off, but sleep came easily to both of us as we lay there savoring the stillness. However, my eyes opened at 3:00 am and wouldn’t close again. I had hoped the power would return in the night but it didn’t, and I’ll have to go out for more gasoline today to keep things running.

Fryeburg Harbor Cemetery

Only a year ago our economy was surging, prosperity was spreading, and Donald Trump looked like a shoe-in for reelection. No one went about wearing masks outside of an operating room. Now we’re having a second wave of “The Covid,” and it’s yet another issue spotlighting the widening political divide in our country. Reading the police blotter in last week’s Bridgton News I saw more than one item of neighbors reporting neighbors for not quarantining after returning from out of state, or having more house guests than Maine Governor Janet Mills allows under the emergency powers she was granted by the legislature.

Sunrise at Old Orchard Beach last winter

People in rural New England depend on small businesses for their livelihood and a number of them have closed down after the first shutdown. Others are barely hanging on after cutting staff, cutting hours, and looking in vain for more to trim in order to make it through another extended closure. Tolerance for shut downs out in rural New England is very thin.

Fryeburg Cemetery

Just about everyone in the country cooperated late last winter with what they were told would be a two-week economic shutdown to “flatten the curve” and avoid overwhelming our hospitals. Then it was extended “another few weeks” and then “another few weeks” and then “until June 1st,” and then until still another arbitrary date. Our economy was in free fall and never fully recovered even though spread eased over the summer.

Misty Morning Lovell, Maine

People began defying government restrictions and questioning the efficacy of shutdowns. Opposing opinions followed party lines. As the economy sank, so did President Trump’s political fortunes and Democrats nominated Joe Biden. Anti-Trumpism surged and continues unabated while he insists the election was fraudulent. Biden promises to unite the country but many wonder if that’s possible at this point. As we near the winter solstice with its shorter days and longer nights, optimism is harder to summon. Sunshine is scarce, literally and figuratively.

My mother at her 95th birthday last year

And then there’s this: last night five of my siblings and I had a group phone conversation about how to handle our 96-year-old mother’s rapidly declining health. She went into assisted living five years ago, then into long-term care for several weeks but none of us have been able to go inside for visits because of “The Covid.” During warmer weather she could occasionally be wheeled out to a patio wearing a mask, and staying six feet away for not more than an hour. Some nurses allowed one hug at the end. Some didn’t. It’s been tough.

Happier 95th

Last week she suffered a shoulder fracture in a fall and was hospitalized. With pain medication and other medical issues, lucidity is intermittent. At this writing, we’re looking for a hospice facility. She has said often lately that she’s ready to die. My siblings are spread around New England and it looks like one sister has found a centrally-located hospice that would allow up to six visitors during the day and one overnight. If we can get her in there soon, she won’t die alone. No one should, virus or no virus.

So far, I haven’t seen any Central Maine Power repair trucks on my road. As I listen to the drone of my generator, I’m reminded of how much we all depend on each other to keep things running. I’ll hold out hope that we can unite in spite of all that’s going on. I don’t like to think otherwise.


rhondajo said...

So sorry that you are without power! Prayers for it to come back on soon!

Tom McLaughlin said...

Thanks Rhondajo. It just came back on! Hallelujah.

Tom McLaughlin said...

Reposted, Tom. Beautiful piece. Heart-breaking...but at least there's a lot of heart in this.

piddingworth said...

As I read your post, Tom, a message in scripture came to me: 'The people who were in darkness have seen a great light'. The darkness you are experiencing is both literal as well as psychological and even spiritual, I think; as it has been for so many of us this awful year. Yet, even as your mum approaches her time in this life, I am struck by the radiance she shows in her picture; so full of 'light' that is then shared in the love of your family. May it shine deeply for you in the darkness of the days ahead.

Kafir said...

Sorry to hear about your Mom’s condition. My mother is 95 so I understand what you and your siblings are going through.

Whatever happened to “Question Authority” when Lefties impose draconian lockdown measures? Let this math sink in: 227 China Virus deaths in Maine with a population of 1.3m people. That percentage is .00017. In the U.S., 284,000 of 331m have died. That’s a rate of .00086. For those paltry numbers we have killed our economy and suspended our constitutional rights?! Maybe there is something more going on than a virus?

If schmucks such as Brian believe that Biden actually won the election fairly, we’re in big trouble. I, for one, don’t want unity with anti-American, Marxist political hacks in the fraudulent Biden/Harris administration. The more disunity the better and I will never compromise with them nor live in fear.

cowboy ted said...

Sorry about your mother Tom. I hope you have a chance to spend as much time as you are able with her.