Ramona on Corona: Prepping For a Zoom Birthday

Ramona cartoon

A humor series on navigating this difficult time

Today, for my Wake-Up Call newsletter (subscribe here!), I’m sharing the fourth installment of a humor series from my friend Pam Goldman, centering on a woman named Ramona, who tries to help… in her own way.

If you’re new to this series: Here’s part one, part two, and part three. Read on.

April 16, 2020

I’m drinking heavily now. Not alcohol. Milk. (Our local distillery is making hand sanitizer.) My husband K. is rationing everything — including milk — so I’m only allowed ¾ cup per day, which is barely enough to cover my Raisin Bran. Luckily my daughter and infant granddaughter were visiting just before the pandemic and left behind two six-packs of Similac formula. I mix the powder with water, pour into a wine glass, add a slice of lemon and voila! Happy hour.

So…. The sun is shining. We’re way past the first day of spring and, once we shovel the three inches of snow that fell yesterday, I may be able to see my daffodils popping through. There are buds on the trees. I haven’t seen a robin or any other birds for that matter, with the exception of my mother. Yes my mother, Daisy. She’s been gone 11 years but I believe she inhabits the soul of a bright red cardinal that visits often but never over-steps because she has a son-in-law. You know how that works.

Why a cardinal? Because after her memorial service I came home to find one circling outside my kitchen window. My mother had a vast palette of hair colors to choose from to dye her own hair. One was a brilliant red. If Crayola had a crayon for it “Cardinal” surely would have been its name. If you’re a ‘birder’ or an ornithologist you’re about to correct me because you know the red cardinal is the male, right? The dull grey cardinal, easily camouflaged, is the female. Sue me. Maybe Daisy’s in disguise. She might be CIA. (Cardinals Intelligence Agency).

She appears on regular days, sometimes on sad days, and sometimes on my birthday. There’s no predicting her arrivals. She sat on a high branch of a crab apple tree outside K.’s home office yesterday. He took a photo of her through the window, then ran downstairs to tell me she was self-isolating on the property. I ran for my phone to get a close-up but the click of the screen door closing behind me made her quickly flit into the dense leaves of an evergreen out front. ‘Bye mom. Remember: stay six feet from the others.

I’m reading Yuval Noah Harari’s bestseller, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Trust me, it’s not brief. But I highly recommend it if you have the time, which you now do. The book begins with a Timeline of History that took my breath away. For starters, Earth was formed 4.5 billion years ago, evolution of the genus Homo (almost us) began 2.5 million years ago, Homo sapiens (us!) evolved in East Africa 200,000 years ago, Sapiens settled America 16,000 years ago, the Scientific Revolution began 500 years ago and The Industrial Revolution started 200 years ago.


Yes, hunting and gathering, killing animals, feeding ourselves, inventing hi-tech personal devices, buying lots of stuff we don’t really need (Alexa? SERIOUSLY?!) and exploring outer space for more room to live, work and play. But where did all that get us? Maybe we should have spent NASA’s millions and billions of R&D funds heeding warning signs that an invisible demon like Covid-19 lay in wait, ready to aerosolize from a sneeze and possibly blow us into oblivion. The future belongs to those who prepare for it. Duh. It’s not rocket science!

Did the Fed really have to hook up with a panty hose company (Hanes) and a car company (Ford) to retrofit undergarments and engines to scale enough PPE for our front-line health care workers? Did NYC’s Javits Center have to convert to a 1700- bed hospital to care for 44 coronavirus patients? Double duh.

My birthday is tomorrow. (Mom may fly in for it). I am absolutely determined to celebrate in spite of the pandemic. I’ll bake a flourless chocolate cake (I’m out of flour) and I’ll ZOOM with K. and our family. And Elmo from Sesame Street. He’s joined all our virtual family events of late. I secure him with duct tape to a dining chair and pitch my voice to his mezzo soprano and ‘Elmo’ reads a book to my grandchildren. He even asked The Four Questions on Passover, which made for a fun seder.

But seeing your three-dimensional grandchildren on a one-dimensional flat screen is not the same as cuddling with them on your lap, smelling their hair, catching them in your arms when they race to greet you. I miss being on the floor with them building bridges with Legos and castles with Magna Tiles. (I even miss having my son-in-law help get me up). I miss playing ‘pretend’ where I’m Anna from ‘Frozen’ and they’re Elsa and Olaf. I miss explaining things (“GaGa, why do I see some white hairs on your head peeking out?”) and laughing a lot (“GaGa, do you know that turtles breathe through their butts?”)

How I wish for these miracles to return.

ZOOM is getting old.

I’ll be older tomorrow.

I’m going outside to look for my mother.

Pam Goldman is a writer, therapist, wife, mother and (young) grandmother. Her work has been published in The New York Times and VIVA Magazine. She is completing her first book, titled LEFT.

This originally appeared on Medium.com