The Corona Chronicles – Part 3
Happy Birthday Son
March 23, 2020 - 8:00 a.m. Central European Time:
It is a cool crisp morning in Landshut today. The sun is shining brightly, without a cloud in the sky and I can hear the church bells ringing providing some background music to the grind of my coffee maker. Today is a special day in my life, in that 31 years ago today, I received the gift of my son, Tyler.
I can still remember the tears rolling down my cheeks as I held my first-born child. I was overcome by a flurry of emotions; is he healthy? will I be a good father? what will he be when he grows up? can I do this? and I gave thanks to the Lord for blessing me with my son.
In 1989, the world was in a very different place than it is today, particularly in light of our current situation. In the United States, George (H. W.) Bush was our president and at that time the U.S. had one of the largest and most diversified economies in the world. The economy entered its seventh successive year of growth (the longest in peacetime history) bolstering wage and consumer price increases and an unemployment rate of 5.5%, (the lowest in nine years).
For my geek friends, 1989 was the year that the internet was invented. Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist, invented the World Wide Web (WWW) while working at CERN. The first proposal for the World Wide Web was written in March 1989 and he wrote a second proposal in May 1990. Together with Belgian systems engineer Robert Cailliau, they formalized a management proposal in November 1990 and well the rest is history.
(I must say I thought twice about sharing that the internet was invented by a Brit, as I have a group of British friends that already take credit for most of everything good in the world and I can already hear it now “well if it wasn’t for the British you wouldn’t have the internet”…..uggh….really these guys would tell you that Jesus was British, I think they may have even tried to pull that one on me)
Never could I imagine that now some 31 years later, my son would be on lock-down in New York City, as the coronavirus sweeps the city. Today, his entire family is facing the same situation; his Mother in Ohio, his sisters in Michigan and Florida, his grandparents in Louisiana and Florida and his Papa some 4000 miles away in Germany.
Tyler’s mother had planned to visit him over the past weekend to celebrate his birthday…..trip canceled! I was trying to coordinate seeing him on my forthcoming trip to the U.S. in late April to attend his sister’s college graduation and for him to see his grandparents….trip canceled! I shipped a birthday gift to him over a week ago (to his office, because he is never at home), in that he has not been able to go to the office….no gift!.
In the past couple of weeks, I have spoken or chatted (Skype/WhatsApp) with Tyler more than normal. Most of my friends have heard me complain on occasion, that Tyler is not a big communicator with his Papa. He is a busy boy, living his dream in one of the greatest cities in the world. Many years ago, I told him that I never wanted him to feel obligated to make routine calls to me, which he seemed to embrace, but sometimes the communication can be a bit few and far between. (a papa always loves to hear from his kids….hint hint)
I knew that Tyler would be in contact with me as he learned about the severity of the situation in Germany and as the virus began to spread to the USA. I also knew he would be concerned about me, for all of our family and for himself. First of all, he is a very intelligent man and quite analytical (his degree is in Neuroscience and he is the Director of Research at a market research company in NYC, that uses unique brain-imaging technology to measure how the brain responds to communications). Therefore, I had no doubt that he would be researching the virus topic to gather information and form his own opinion.
Secondly, he is a bit like his father (other than looking so much alike), he is a bit of a worrier. Tyler grew up in Michigan on the shores of Lake Erie. The weather conditions in this region of the United States can be brutal, with winter blizzards, summer tornado's, and spring flooding. As a child and even up into his teens, I remember that Tyler would constantly watch “The Weather Channel” on the television, to see if there was any potential for bad weather. (this actually was kind of handy for me, as I could always ask him what the weather forecast was, as this was in the day before we could get this information on our cell phones)
One of my worries for Tyler and this crisis was because when he was very young (I am not sure of his age exactly) he was hospitalized for a respiratory infection and was placed in an oxygen tent (a canopy placed over the head and shoulders, or over the entire body of a patient to provide oxygen at a higher level). Ever since that time when he has any cold or flu he has major respiratory issues and in that this virus attacks the respiratory system, you can understand my concerns.
How long our containment and the social distancing measures will continue, is unclear. In the weeks and months ahead many special and significant events will be canceled or postponed. I am not talking about a concert, a festival, a parade, a vacation or the like. I am talking about an event or occasion that is a key moment or significant event in life that becomes a memory that you will hold onto for a lifetime. Occasions like weddings, high school/college graduations, high school proms, getting your driver’s license, the baptism of a child, or a silver or golden wedding anniversary. Yes, many of these can and will be rescheduled, but in some little way, they will also be marred by this nasty ghost that is haunting our entire society.
However, birthdays come only once a year (or in my case, I have determined to only have a birthday every few years to keep my age in line with my youthful look). So, for now, and the foreseeable future many birthdays will not be the celebration that a person’s family and friends would have intended it to be. Unfortunately, these birthdays will likely be remembered as the birthday year that the virus came into our world. The virus has and will continue to infect people in the days ahead, but the good news is that many people will not be infected, as we all take measures to slow the spread at this time. Nonetheless, although one may not be infected, there is no escaping the fact that we all will be affected in some way.
So, a message to my son:
Everyone who knows me and is close to me knows how very proud I am of you. As a proud Papa, I take every opportunity I can to brag of your outstanding rankings and success in education, the elite college you attended, your accomplishments in high school and college football, and your job, because that is what Dad’s do.
But today, I want to tell you that I am proud of the man you have become, for having a dream going after it and grabbing it, for living your
life on your own terms, for the love and respect you have for your family, and just for being you. I am your biggest fan. There is not a day that I do not think about you and miss being near you.
Son, I wish you the happiest of birthdays you can have under these extreme circumstances. I know it will not be the day you planned, but know that in Germany, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Louisiana, New York, California, Tennessee, South Carolina and more; friends, family, and acquaintances will be thinking about you and sending their love and greetings to you today.
Stay calm, stay healthy, and stay strong. You are in my prayers, that God wraps his arms around you to guide and protect you, not only today during this time of crisis, but every day you live.
I love you son,
P.S. I know you are a social guy, like me. I also know that you nor I don’t do alone well, as we like to be on the go. I don’t know if you remember this video you sent me a few years ago. It just seemed fitting given our situation. I hope you don’t mind me sharing.