Turn the page – another year begins

marchello xmas 2021
Pre-Christmas meal at Greta’s son’s home (photo courtesy Tony Marchello)
On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter December 31, 2021
by Tom Blake – columnist

Turn the Page – another year begins 

My partner Greta and I have taken the Covid concerns seriously. Both of us have had two Covid vaccinations and a booster shot. Our health seems good.

At our age, we’ve got to be careful. Like most people in the United States, we are concerned about the Omicron variant of Covid that is spreading rapidly. Hence, we avoid crowds and have no cruises planned. 

On Thursday, December 16, we decided not to attend our Dana Point Chamber of Commerce monthly indoor Meet and Greet party. We didn’t want to risk it. And the office Christmas party scheduled for Friday, December 17 at the home of our newspaper publisher and his wife was canceled due to renewed Covid concerns.

Greta and I had been looking forward to that event, especially to spend time with another couple (Dominque and Tom) who are friends and who are also associated with the newspaper. Tom is a columnist for the San Clemente Times, for which I also write. And his wife Dominque worked with Greta in Special Education for years. We replaced the canceled event that Friday evening by inviting Tom and Dominque to our home for a light meal and a glass of wine.

Plans for Christmas week 

Our Christmas week plans were small—only joining a few family members. On Thursday, the night before Christmas Eve, we were having dinner at Greta’s son Tony and Joann’s home (pictured above), with two of Greta’s grandchildren. 

On Christmas Eve., we were going to Greta’s daughter Tina’s home with her husband and two more of Greta’s grandchildren, plus one of their other friends. Just five others, and us. 

And on Christmas day, we were scheduled to go to San Diego to my sister Pam’s home, with her husband Bob, and my other sister, Christine. This was to be a particularly important event for Pam, Christine, and me, as our only brother passed away in January. There are only three of us left in our family.

On Wednesday, December 22, mid-afternoon, five days after Tom and Dominque were at our home, Dominque called Greta to say that she had tested positive for Covid. And while Greta and I felt no symptoms, we wanted to get a rapid-results Covid test. We didn’t want to endanger any members of our family. But where to get a test on such short notice? 

I checked online. CVS pharmacy seemed to be the place of choice, but every location in Orange County required an appointment and there were no appointments available before Christmas. We asked Dominque where she had been tested: South County Urgent Care Talega, in San Clemente. 

We telephoned. Yes, they were accepting walk-ins but advised us that they were busy and there could be a bit of a wait. Greta and I were in the car within minutes and arrived at the South County Urgent Care place 25 minutes later. We signed up for the rapid-results test. The nice woman told us getting tested would be an hour’s wait, and because all seats in the waiting area were taken, we could wait in our car if we preferred (it was more of a suggestion; it was please do it).

She would text us when our turn was up. We decided that would be the wisest thing to do. 

I’m about as patient as a puppy. After three minutes of sitting in the car, I said to Greta: “Let’s take a drive and see if we can find a fast-food place where we can grab a beverage and perhaps use the restroom before we’re called for our test.” I wasn’t familiar with that part of San Clemente, so I just started driving. Within five minutes, we saw a mini shopping center with a couple of restaurants.

One place was called Wow Poki, which sold poke bowls. In we went. We ordered a poke bowl and a beverage and drove back to the parking lot of South Coast Urgent Care. We had a delightful, delicious, light dinner–each using different forks and paper plates—in case one of us would test positive—in the front seat of the car. 

Shortly after our meal, the text came; Urgent Care was ready for us. We went in and filled out the paperwork. We were surprised that the rapid test would cost us $100 each. But, to be with our families at Christmas, we willingly accepted the price. I had been tested three times before, so I knew what to expect. Greta hadn’t had a Covid test yet. She was a bit uncomfortable when the cotton swab was inserted into her nose, but the doctor was gentle and considerate.

He said we’d have the results in 10 minutes. So, there we sat, for the longest 10 minutes of our lives. “What if?” “What if?” “What if?” We kept thinking. And then the doctor returned and handed us our results: Both negative.

Oh my gosh, what a relief. The first thing Greta did in the car was call Dominque to tell her the good news. She was ecstatic, so pleased we were okay, and she was feeling well. We also reflected on how wise my newspaper publishers had been in canceling the office party, which avoided approximately 20 other people being exposed to Covid. 

When we got home, you bet we had a wine-glass toast to each other. How lucky we felt. However, we realize that we still must be careful. One test doesn’t guarantee we won’t be exposed again. And our three Christmas visits went off without a hitch. Plus, we have a new poke restaurant to frequent.
Happy New Year Champs!

Author: Tom Blake

Tom Blake is a newspaper columnist in south Orange County, California. He has published five books. His primary topic is finding love after 50 and beyond, sometimes far beyond, for people 80 and older as well. He also blogs about travel at TravelAfter55.com.

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