Celebrating a wedding anniversary during COVID-19

Barb and Randy Bartley observe their 34th wedding anniversary, COVID style.

A first-person account

Celebrating a wedding anniversary during COVID-19

By Randy Bartley

Staff Writer


Saturday, April 18, was our 34th wedding anniversary. This year was not a golden anniversary or a silver anniversary.

It was a COVID Celebration.

Like many people we are observing all of the rules the state government has laid down to keep us safe, my wife Barb and I are considered to be "essential" employees. I asked my boss if he meant expendable but he assured me people in the media are essential.

Barb is a registered nurse and she is extremely essential.

In the past we celebrated our anniversary by going out to dinner with friends.

Obviously that did not happen this year. There are no places we can go and have a meal.

Grabbing a Big Mac and fries somehow lacks the romance of dinner in our favorite restaurant. Even with a good local red wine it just isn't the same.

Meeting with friends is also out of the question. Most of our friends are in our age group and that is regarded as high risk. It wasn't worth the risk.

We practice social distancing which really kills the mood. Sitting around your dining room table, six feet apart, talking through a facemask is appropriate but leads to a lot of garbled conversation ending with "What?"

So how do you celebrate in quarantine?

Barb did not have to work and I was off so we had the day to ourselves. In the pre-virus days we might hop in the car and go for a drive. Ironically, the gas is cheaper than it has been for years but there is no place to go.

This is April in Pennsylvania so there was snow on the ground, which ruled out a walk in park.

Our day began at 5:30 when our dachshunds declared they had to go out. They apparently did not get the note that this was a special day and they could sleep in.

I made a good pot of coffee. I seriously don't understand how some people can face the day without coffee. Those are probably the same people who eat Tofu.

We met in the living room and planned out our day while we listened to the news. I learned from the news that there is a pandemic going on. I learned I needed to wash my hands and wear a facemask. I learned that it is all President Trump's fault.

I found out how many people were infected in Clarion County, Pennsylvania, New York, the United States, China, Italy and at least six places I could not even locate on my Google map. Just to lighten the mood we turned on a documentary on Tsunamis.

Our next task was to reach out to our family members and make sure everyone was OK.

My brothers, her sisters, our friends all wanted to talk about the virus. Fortunately I had watched the news and was able to speak somewhat intelligently about what Kim Kardashian, Jimmy Fallon and any number of celebrities thought about the pandemic. Oddly none of them were doctors but this the COVID era so any serious credentials are irrelevant.

We ordered some meat from our local butcher. Of course shopping these day means calling in your order, driving to the store and waiting, six feet apart, until you could go inside and get the order.

We picked up a few things for our daughter's family and that gave us an excuse to visit them. She has a large picture window in her house so we were able to stand outside while they came to the window on the inside. It was like feeding time at the zoo. We sat the meat down outside their door and watched as they pulled the stuff inside their house. She has been home since she was laid off -- with two teenagers. Her safe sanity level was surpassed two weeks ago.

I did venture out to the market and picked up a mini-cake so we would at least have that for our anniversary "feast." We had already stocked up on local wine so we were prepared to celebrate.

I decided she should have flowers. The problem was where to get a nice bouquet. The florist was closed but nature provided. I went down to the local park and found daffodils, dandelions and some blue flower to round it out. These are all wild flowers and therefore free.

It was now heading toward time for our celebratory feast. Barb is a fantastic cook and sometimes, but not often, she allows me to help. If we ever build a new house it will be a kitchen with a bedroom and bathroom attached. It is a good system. She cooks and I pour wine. I am allowed to help with the clean-up which requires more wine.

We settled into the living room and thought we would watch something on TV. We have numerous streaming channels. We thought maybe something romantic but most of the shows were more pornographic.

Maybe an adventure movie would do but most of those were either a revenge movie or a zombie movie. I believe there was more blood on the TV screen than in a blood bank. Of course we could have watched retro-TV but somehow reruns of "Gidget" looked a little dated.

At the end of the day, we agreed that it wasn't about what you ate, what you had to drink, or how you were entertained but who you spent the day with.

There is no one I would rather spend the day with than the person I have spent the last 34 years with, masks or no masks.n

Do you have an interesting tale of celebration during the COVID-19 emergency you would like to share? Contact us at the CLARION NEWS.