Slices of Life: Piling it on in 2020

What else could possibly happen? Ha! I had to ask.

Jill Pertler
Jill Pertler

The year 2020: Wow, in hindsight who could have seen this coming?

I thought we’d been through it all. A pandemic. The lockdown. The economy suffering because of the lockdown and pandemic. Family members losing jobs. My youngest son missing out on his last semester of high school. Virtual graduation.

What else could possibly happen?

Ha! I had to ask.

I thought the first six months of 2020 were taxing — a challenge in flexibility and change. A challenge in faith and country and leadership. I thought there weren’t any more possible challenges to tackle.


And then I lived out the last 12 days.

In less than two weeks time, here’s the trifecta that’s unfolded in my life:

1. I brought my 18 year-old son 1,300 miles across the country to college and left him there, only hoping he’ll do well, go to class and learn how to sort his own laundry. Oh, and of course wear his mask (or face covering, depending on your preference). Now he’s coming up against the reality of his first hurricane, although to him “It’s just a tropical storm, Mom, no big deal.”

2. I lost my dad to non-COVID illness and advanced age. I hadn’t been able to see him since the lockdown. He was in a nursing home. My sister was able to be with him in his last days and that brings me comfort.

Finally, I’ve saved the best for last (truly).

3. Upon returning home from bringing my son to college (all my tears were dry by this time) I was blessed with a grandson. He was born during COVID, so we weren’t able to see him right away. No visitors were allowed at the hospital.

I like to think I live a fairly boring life, but this latest trifecta has been anything but — in heart-tugging ways, in sad ways and in the very best of ways. Life can be complicated. It often is.

My son was supposed to follow us across the country, not the other way around. We had a move planned, but because of COVID everything about that has changed. Instead of us being there to welcome him, he is bravely forging ahead on his own. It’s what an 18-year-old is supposed to do. But still, I am his mom. I can’t put that behind me — now or ever. His university has an all-you-can-eat food plan and free laundry. At least those are two things I don’t have to worry about.


My dad. That’s an entire column, but I believe I’ve already written a few about this hero in my life. It’s a shame — a true shame — that he lived his last months without family or friends surrounding him with the love he so deserved. I’m mad at COVID for that. I’m more than mad. Not quite enraged, but somewhere between mad and that. I’m mad-enraged for robbing my wonderful and loving dad of the last weeks or months that he was cognizant enough to know he was sitting in a room that wasn’t his home, alone. It wasn’t fair. COVID isn’t fair. Life isn’t fair. I understand this, but it’s hard not to be sad about those facts sometimes.

My grandson entered the world seeing people’s faces covered by masks. It’s not ideal and I hate it, but he has 10 fingers and 10 toes. He is beautiful. He doesn’t see our faces but he feels our love and he hears our words of endearment in his perfect little ears. When I held him for the first time his tiny hand gripped my finger. He fell asleep in my arms and grinned in his sleep.

It was probably gas, but in this year of 2020, I’ll take what I can get.

J ill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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