Being Me

A handyman who does maintenance at the prison stopped by last evening to see about fixing my washer. (It gets stuck in the final spin cycle as if the basket is unbalanced, and then it won’t unlock, in case you’re wondering.) We wore masks and stayed apart, in case you’re wondering that, too.

His diagnostic checks took longer than he expected, so he apologized and asked if he was keeping me from going anywhere. I had to laugh at that. “I’m still in lockdown,” I said. I reminded him that although the state is loosening some of its restrictions, people over sixty are still supposed to be staying at home at all times except for essential errands. Then I mentioned how isolating being isolated was when you lived alone.

That seemed to startle him, and he said, “I never thought of that.” Then he added in a reflective tone of voice, “Isolation is how we punish the prisoners.”

We went on to talk about how this crisis has affected us, and he admitted it hasn’t affected him all that much. He still goes to work, still returns to his loving family in the evening. And me? Just about the only times I see anyone are the rare occasions someone comes to work here or the rarer occasions when I happen to encounter my next door neighbor.

We went on to talk about how strongly people hold to their opinions, and how they try to intimidate others to accept that opinion, if only by ridicule or scathing remarks. I mentioned that no one ever changed anyone’s mind, and it is true. Heated argument doesn’t change anyone’s mind, but sometimes . . . just sometimes . . . a rational discussion can help the other person see a different point of view.

Obviously, the handyman’s learning that for some people ‘isolation” is not just a word in an official order but a punishing lifestyle won’t change anything except his awareness, but it reminded me how necessary it is to continue writing, to continue telling my point of view. That it is my point of view is just that — my point of view. But it is also what makes the telling so important — no one else thinks exactly as I do or sees the world as I do because they are not me.

And being me, even in isolation, is what I am supposed to be doing.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.