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A lifetime of waiting

Our Readers Write
Elaine Jackson

While waiting for the coronavirus lock-down to be lifted, I started wondering how much of my life has been spent just waiting. When I stopped to think about it, I wait every day for something or someone. I have been waiting for some things for as long as I can remember; that would be bucket-list items.

As a child, growing up on a farm in Southern Indiana, I waited for my parents to milk the cows twice a day, every day. I had to go to the barn with them because there was no telling what kind of mischief I could get into if left alone inside the house. I walked up a long gravel driveway and waited for the school bus in the mornings; after classes, we lined up inside the school while waiting for the buses. After boarding the buses, they moved to the next building where we waited for the high school kids to come out.

Lines of waiting pupils formed in the rest rooms. We stood in the cafeteria’s lunch lines and waited in the school’s library, which was supposed to be a study hall but no one actually studied; we were just waiting for the next class to start.

Most of my youth was spent waiting. No matter what I wanted to do, my mother always said, “Do it next time.” How I hated those words. After all, in a high-tech world, things just came around once and then they were obsolete. No one was interested anymore.

At home, I was waiting to get into the bathroom (there was just one in the house), waiting for meals, for my boyfriend’s arrival, waiting for the movie to start, waiting for my parents to fall asleep so I could sneak into the house when the triple feature movie kept me out too late. As a young child, I waited for Santa Claus to arrive, for my birthday, for the school year to end. Then, because there was no place to go and nothing to do, I found myself waiting for the next school year to start.

As a married woman, I waited for life to improve. We needed everything so I waited for my husband to find a better-paying job. Twice I was waiting for a baby, waiting to move into a new home, waiting until we could afford new furniture, for vacation trips, for the mail, for a favorite TV show to start, for the newspaper to arrive, for dinner to finish cooking, for the washer to click off, for the dryer to buzz, for a repairman to fix an appliance, furnace or plumbing problems, for the car to be serviced, for a recall to be scheduled and completed, waiting in a doctor or dentist’s office. It seems like making an appointment did not matter.

I waited for a hair cut and perm, for license plates or to renew my driver’s license at the BMV.

We all sit and wait at a traffic signal or in a traffic jam without knowing if the backup is caused by road construction or an accident that could cause a delay several hours long. I’ve spent time waiting to get income tax returns done, waiting in the grocery store checkout line because there are just two registers open in a huge store. Wait, there’s a self-checkout area with six registers. One of them is out of order and the other five are in use so there’s a long line waiting to use them.

It seems like everything involves waiting. Sometimes I am not even aware of the wait because I can go ahead and do something else, like waiting nine months for a baby.

Before coronavirus, I could talk to other people who were waiting in line so it was not a long, boring wait. Now, I am isolated because of social distancing and we can’t even form a line. The line that was already too long is now six times as long in keeping with the social- distancing requirements. That’s if I get out of the house at all. I can eat (lost my appetite), sleep (have to get up in the middle of the night), watch TV (everything is a rerun), read (can’t concentrate), clean (can’t find the necessary supplies) and work in the yard now that it has warmed up outside (have to battle the elements and wildlife). It’s a hopeless situation and a good excuse for doing nothing.

Now, I am old and still waiting. There’s not much happening these days. Most summer events have been canceled or postponed until next year. How much exercise do you really get from a virtual foot race? Is it safe to go out now? I don’t know so, I am still waiting.

Editor’s note: Elaine Adolph Jackson, a resident of Hamilton, Ohio, graduated from North Central High School in 1965.