Brian Blackley

It’s a little early for a celebration, but I think starting early is appropriate (assuming we celebrate over a Zoom call or observe social distancing while doing so). It’s not so much that I am ready to ring in the pending new year as much as I am eager to say goodbye to this one. It’s been a doozy.

As we all have adapted to this thing we are calling the “new normal” - you know - where you fearfully enter restaurants, forego going to movies (are the theaters even open?), where concerts and events have been suspended and where sectors of the economy have been devastated. I’ve faced a number of setbacks of my own. Taken together with a contentious election, a greater rift between Americans over politics than ever before, where members of Congress have become less and less collegial and seem to get swept in based on who yells the loudest, and where a stimulus bill to help Americans was DOA due to a pending election, it’s been maddening.

On the personal front, I faced a pretty severe health scare in September. It’s the usual stuff that middle-aged men who don’t eat right, who don’t exercise right and who don’t take care of themselves and work in high stress occupations face, but let me say unequivocally, it’s not the usual stuff when it happens to you. So, after three heart stents courtesy of an amazing cardiologist with the Tennova Healthcare system and his qualified team, I dodged the proverbial bullet – for now anyway.

But the hits kept coming. My parents are not particularly well and need more care than ever before. My retired brother (who is not known for his tolerance or patience) has really stepped up to the plate. It’s been challenging for him as he thought he was retiring early enough to enjoy some travel and do the things he enjoys, but he finds himself in the kitchen cooking meals, cleaning dishes and washing clothes and cleaning constantly for three.

As much as it pains me, I may nominate him for sainthood. He’s dealing with our parents, after all, and if the Catholic masses knew our parents, I think they’d approve the nomination (despite the fact that we’re Methodists, and really bad ones at that). St. Scott has a nice ring to it, too.

Though 2020 has been particularly unpleasant for our family, I mustered up the strength to express thanks last week that at least I still have my parents, and that I was in the right place at the right time when my ticker lost its timing. I have a job I am thankful for and people I am happy to be able to work with, and a great support team in my wife and daughters. In many ways, there are others who had it worse in this unprecedented year.

I think about the restaurant owners, the restaurant workers, the gig economy workers who can’t play on Music Row, who can’t host art shows, who can’t sell concessions at concerts and ball games.

I think about the families who lost loved ones and who couldn’t convene with their fellow family members to bury their loved ones.

I think about empty collection plates at church as people stay home to avoid interacting with others to protect themselves and their vulnerable family members.

I think about the school kids, devastated by rolling closures and the lost educational and socialization time. I think about the parents of those kids, struggling to come to terms with how to provide for their children who have to learn “remotely” while they must go to work to provide.

I also think about the soaring rates of alcohol and drug abuse and the havoc that is inflicting on families.

Yes, as bad as 2020 has been I can count myself lucky.

So as the year roars to its long-awaited, much anticipated demise, I am going to celebrate like it’s St. Patrick’s Easter de Mayo Fourth of Christmas Year’s Eve day in my Halloween costume. Who’s up for joining me on the Zoom call?