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Some thoughts on the virtue of patience

I began the process of writing this column today based on my feelings of supreme impatience with life right now. So, I thought it would be a good time to have a discussion on the merits of patience with maybe some added advice on how to develop that particular character trait. And, to make matters even easier, an article had recently hit by inbox titled “Patience and Tips on How to Develop It.” Then, I searched for some meaningful quotes regarding that esteemed character trait … which began a much-needed attitude adjustment.

So, what petty complaints started me on my pity party today? The pandemic has kept us home, so we thought we could accomplish some home improvement projects.

Consequently, I am waiting on a whole series of them and am just getting fed up. First, my washer and dryer died in July, and I was able to order a new set on July 28. Here we are in November, and I am still waiting … and in the meantime, shlepping to the laundromat every week. I have a set of 16-year-old window blinds that look like new but need to be restrung.

With the help of a local design store, I had them sent to a Hunter Douglas facility in Salt Lake City for repair nearly eight weeks ago. I am still waiting for something that typically used to take two weeks. Hopefully, they will be shipped by Dec. 1. Then my kitchen faucet began leaking; I am still waiting for its replacement to arrive so I can get on the plumber’s repair list. Finally, we ordered some new living room furniture back in early September that will not arrive until mid- to late January.

The culprit, of course, is COVID-19. An invisible virus, ineptly managed from the beginning, has wreaked havoc on our American way of life. Some factories have shuttered their doors while others are running nowhere near full capacity because it is unsafe for their workers to be too close together. We actually have to wait for the things we want; who knew we were so spoiled before when we could simply shop and have our needs met the following week! But spoiled we were, and most unappreciative of how easy life was “back then.”

By this time, I knew I was being childish. I should be happy that I am still healthy in the face of this pandemic. I should be appreciative of all the folks who are working locally and trying their best each day to help impatient customers like me. And I should be grateful for being in a position where I can afford to get things repaired and to purchase new things. It was not that long ago when I would have been unable to say that.

Then I began a search for meaningful quotes that would help me — and other impatient souls like me — through these moments of character flaw. Rainer Maria Rilke in “Letters to a Young Poet” took a philosophical approach when he stated: “Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present, you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.” Very profound but not doing it for me today.

There was a series of perspectives that, at least, had some action connected to patience that appealed to me. Roy T. Bennett wrote, “Patience is not the ability to wait. Patience is to be calm no matter what happens, constantly take action to turn it to positive growth opportunities, and have faith to believe that it will all work out in the end while you are waiting.” Gandhi wrote, “To lose patience is to lose the battle.” Moliere wrote, “Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.” A. A. Milne took a lesson from nature when he said, “Rivers know this; there is no hurry. We shall get there someday.” And with a sense of humor, Arnold H. Glasow said, “The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.”

George Bernard Shaw’s wisdom shined forth when he said, “Two things define you: your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything.” Suddenly my complaints seemed quite small in comparison to folks who were suffering the effects of COVID to a much greater degree than I. And, for that matter, millions of people throughout history suffered far greater misfortune for much longer periods of time than any of us have to date because of our pandemic. Wars around the world have lasted for decades that resulted in the genocide of entire groups of people, from Armenia to Africa.

Then I remembered the words, “These are the times that try men’s souls …” and wondered about their origin. It is the sentence that began Thomas Paine’s collection of articles titled “The American Crisis” that he penned during the American Revolutionary War. The opening paragraph of his first article bears repeating here:

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value.”

And in that paragraph came the perspective that makes our great American experiment so unique, so deserving of our protection, and so worth every modern-day inconvenience. We have no right to complain about inconveniences when our founding fathers had both the vision of what our nation could become and the stamina to fight the battles to fulfill that vision and that made our country into the nation it is today. Our ancestors came to this land driven by hardships in their home countries and emboldened by a determination to build better lives in a country that promised the opportunity for freedom. Patience does not even come close enough to define what it took to build our nation, but it could never have happened without it.

So … enough already of pity parties over things that matter so little. We need to keep on keeping on. Let’s take a collective deep breath, gather our wits about us and get to work to fix and improve this great American experiment. Many good people have sacrificed everything to get us to this point in our history so it is time to pull together and continue to “perfect the perfect union.” We are not going to agree on everything, but we should be able to agree that America is worth every ounce of “try” we have in us. Great things are possible when we all work together for the collective good of our nation and its splendid diversity of people.

__________________

NURSING HOMES

The usual senior living activity calendars and senior center menus are not being published to avoid confusion. Due to the coronavirus and the vulnerability of the elderly population, daily life in the senior living facilities and senior centers has changed dramatically.

All living facilities have closed their doors to public visitation, and the activity calendars have been modified to allow for one-to-one room visits only and individualized activities to keep residents engaged and active as much as possible while remaining within the health and safety guidelines provided by state health experts.

Group games are being substituted with individualized activities residents can do in their respective rooms. Staff are providing supplies as well as “overhead announcement bingo and trivia” games and “hallway games” that can be played in individual rooms or by sitting within individual room doorways.

YouTube and DVDs are being utilized to provide religious services. A big dose of gratitude and appreciation goes out to all senior care staff for their creativity, caring and perseverance through a difficult situation.

All senior centers also have been closed to any center-based activity. Until they re-open, no information is being published that talks about activities typically available at these centers. While some have reopened with limited seating, meals do continue to be delivered.

Some centers also are preparing meals to be picked up. Menus are printed below for those centers who are either preparing takeout or providing home-delivered meals. Questions can be directed to the individual centers at the numbers listed here.

SENIOR CENTERS

Alpha-Mastodon Center

906-875-3315

Amasa Center

906-822-7284

The Amasa Center is a curbside pick-up-only kitchen for now. Call ahead for Tuesdays through Thursdays. Menu for the week —

Tuesday: Spaghetti, green beans, garlic bread

Wednesday: Pork chop, baked potato, Brussel sprouts, carrot coins

Thursday: Turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, dressing, cranberries

Note: All meals served with milk, bread and butter, fruit and dessert

Breen Center

906-774-5110

Now open with limited seating from noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Menu for the week —

Monday: Cheeseburger, french fries, baked beans

Tuesday: Pork ribs, sauerkraut, parsley potatoes

Wednesday: Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn

Thursday: Chili, sandwich

Note: All meals served with a choice of skim milk or juice and fruit

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen

906-875-6709

Crystal Lake Center

Iron Mountain

906-239-0278

Home-delivered meals only. Menu for the week —

Monday: Chicken pot pie, biscuit, cranberry sauce

Tuesday: Polish sausage, noodles, green beans

Wednesday: Corn dogs, potato wedges, corn

Thursday: Italian soup, carrot salad, dinner roll

Friday: Ham and cheese pea salad, chips

Note: All meals served with a choice of skim milk, juice, or no beverage

For more information, call Christine McMahon at 906-774-2256

Felch Center

906-246-3559

Now open with limited seating from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. Menu for the week —

Monday: Hamburgers, baked beans, potatoes

Tuesday: Ham and Swiss sandwich, chips, salad

Wednesday: Beef stroganoff, pasta, carrots, coleslaw

Note: All meals served with skim milk or juice

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County, Wis.

715-528-4890

Director: Tiffany White

Home-delivered meals only. Menu for the week —

Monday: Shepherd’s pie, spinach and orange salad, fruit

Tuesday: Cook’s choice – entrée, vegetable, fruit

Wednesday: Roast turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, rolls, pumpkin cheesecake

Thursday: Fish sandwich, tater tots, carrot salad, fruit

Friday: Enchilada bake with lettuce, olives and onions, rice, salsa, refried beans and cheese, fruit

Note: All meals served with whole grain bread and butter and milk

Fence Center/Town Hall

715-336-2980

For meal reservations, call 855-528-2372

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall

For meal reservations, call 715-528-4261

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Tipler Town Hall

For meal reservations, call 715-674-2320

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora

For meal reservations, call 715-589-4491

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska

906-498-7735

Iron River Center

906-265-6134

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Meal site manager: Corrie Maule, 715-251-1603

Senior center director: Jill Anderson, 715-251- 4154

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining

906-563-8716

The center will remain closed; however, takeout meals will be prepared for pick up — those picking up must call ahead and wear a mask. Menu for the week —

Monday: Bourbon steak over noodles, spinach, mushrooms, fruit, juice, dessert

Tuesday: Taco salad with vegetable toppings, corn, fruit, juice, dessert

Wednesday: Noon meal — Fish patty on a bun, macaroni and cheese, peas, fruit, juice, dessert; Barbecue rib take-out dinner – note the NEW pick-up time is from 4:30 to 5 p.m.

Thursday: Cheese ravioli, broccoli, garlic bread, fruit, juice, dessert

Sagola Center

906-542-3273

Now open with limited seating from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. Menu for the week —

Tuesday: Lasagna, mixed vegetables, salad, breadstick, fruit

Wednesday: Chicken and broccoli bake, salad, bread, fruit

Thursday: Cabbage rolls, roasted potatoes, salad, bread, fruit

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