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— Coverage of the many areas living under coronavirus stay-at-home orders, and descriptions of varying degrees of cabin fever, brought to mind an experience from the late 1980s that pitted my dad and I in several hours of squabbling about not leaving the house.

Dad and I at the time were living together just outside the city limits of El Dorado.

Although well past retirement age, he was not the sedentary type and was usually on his way to or the way back from

somewhere.

A winter storm hit, with snow and ice making travel anywhere almost impossible.

Fortunately, the timing was good because it came on a weekend. When he expressed concern about me being able to make it to work, I explained it was a Saturday and I was off until Monday. So, we could just sit back and relax and not worry about the weather conditions.

It soon became evident relaxing wasn’t going to be in Dad’s playbook. His concern about me making it to work was kind of code for we needed to go

somewhere.

I said people who didn’t absolutely have to be driving were being advised to stay home and off the roads.

After pacing for a while, he announced that we needed

food.

Not at all, I countered. We had stocked up before the storm

hit.

Eggs? Check.

Milk? Check.

Bread? Check.

The pacing resumed, along with frustrated glances out the window. The combination of being told he shouldn’t do something along with cabin fever had him in a

snit.

Finally, after much pacing and checking the refrigerator and cupboards for something we must be in dire need of, he hit upon the emergency that would surely have me agree that he should jump in his pickup and go slipping and sliding to

town.

I still had the nasty smoking habit at that time, so he pounced on that, declaring, “You’ll need cigarettes. I’ll go get you

some.”

Reaching into a cupboard, I pulled out a full carton of cigarettes.

Which brings me to a somewhat similar experience several years earlier with my dad’s mother, my grandmother. Their shared similar traits of stubbornness. When in that past I’ve shared my opinion that I’m not particularly stubborn, relatives, co-workers and friends would almost burst out laughing, so I guess it’s a family

thing.

This experience took place at the remote cottage that my grandfather and grandmother

built as a vacation and retirement retreat. After my granddad’s passing, Grandma would spend the summers at the

cottage.

My wife and I visited for a week one summer and during the visit, a day-long trip to some of the area attractions was planned. Grandma decided to stay home, saying she had seen those sights many times. She seemed anxious that we go, almost as if she looked forward to having us out of the house for the day. Considering that she spent much of the summer there alone and really looked forward to when company would come to visit, it seemed like she had something up her sleeve.

And, indeed she did. Earlier a conversation dealt with her car. Not even aware that her car was a retired state police cruiser with wooden blocks affixed to the pedals so she could reach them with her tippy toes, her doctor had forbidden her to drive because of a serious back problem he was treating.

Apparently knowing my grandmother quite well, he had told me there was to be absolutely no fudging. She was not to ever get behind the wheel until the back problem was resolved. She would be a danger to others and herself while risking the chance of making the back situation even

worse.

Knowing she was up to something, as we prepared to leave

the next morning, I cautioned, “Grandma, remember the doctor said you are not drive that car under any

circumstances.”

“Aw,” she shrugged. “It’ll just be to the mailbox and

back.”

The mailbox was almost a mile away at the end of the dirt road that led from the highway to the cottage.

“No driving,” I scolded, reminding her of the doctor’s warning that any awkward movement behind the wheel could make her back problem permanent. And, I questioned, what was so special about going to the mailbox on this particular day? The folks in a neighboring cottage usually brought her mail to her as well as going to the store for any

needs.

After some arguing, I wangled a promise that she would not drive while we were

away.

Upon our returning that evening, Grandma inquired about our day, did we have a good

time?

“Yeah,” I replied, “we did have a good time. Did you have a good drive? You promised and, as soon as we were out of sight, you jumped in that

car.”

“Did not,” she mumbled.

“Well, when we left the morning the car was pointing

away from the cottage. Now it’s pointing the other

way.”

“Dang,” she said, snapping her fingers.

Did I worry that, once the week was over and we were gone, she would drive?

Nah, she wouldn’t even think about it as long as there was no one there to tell her she

shouldn’t.

(Jim Edwards is retired after a lifetime in the newspaper business and for 30 years worked in various positions at the Camden News, El Dorado News-Times and Banner-News of Magnolia. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of this newspaper. Email to [email protected])

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