Some have a bit more social distance – Empty Nest by Curt Swarm


We might think we have it rough with restaurants closed, “shelter in place” (fancy words for “hunker down”) and supermarkets devoid of toilet paper. Check out this Facebook post of a “Friend” from Monroe, Iowa: “I’m in England and have no idea when it will be safe…to come home….My current flight connects through Frankfurt (Germany) and Chicago. Not sure I want to do that as it might place me in limbo or quarantine. I certainly don’t want to risk getting exposed just before I get home to my 85 y/o husband. We’ve already planned self-isolation when and if I get home….I’m with my daughter and her family here and we are doing fine so far. We’re staying away from crowds and lying low….God help us!”
My Facebook “Friend,” Suzanne, is married to my former high school history teacher Mr. (Bob) Johnson. I’m pretty sure I was his worst nightmare in high school, although he claims he was my worst nightmare. Hmm. Who will win the battle of nightmares? How’s this for a newspaper headline? “History Teacher’s Wife Lives History.”
Suzanne is having a Brit snit. She can’t get through to the airline by phone or website (each says to use the other). The American Embassy in London is jammed with throngs of people in the same flight-plight. To top it off, because of her age and medical conditions, Suzanne is high risk for contracting COVID-19. Just what she needs.
Her husband’s birthday, which is on the same day as Mother’s Day in England, came and went, which made Suzanne even more blue. But, thanks to WhatsApp, she and her husband are in visual and voice contact with each other almost daily, which helps a lot. The retired history teacher, who loves to talk, tells her not to worry, that, even though he misses her, he’s doing fine. He takes the dogs for walks, works on the taxes, and has coffee (keeping a safe distance) with his pals at Kane Welding in Monroe. Welding and history: is there an analogy here?
Suzanne flew to Britain to be with her youngest daughter, Alexis, while Alexis was having a baby—Suzanne and Bob’s 16th grandchild. Grandma would help with Alexis’ and husband, Warren’s, four year old daughter, Isla (pronounced Ila). Grandma and Grandpa flew to Britain when Alexis and Warren had their first baby. But the trip was in the winter and they had a hard time getting home. Bob said that he didn’t think he was up to another trip in the winter, and for Suzanne to go alone. Then President Trump announced that borders were going to be closed because of the pandemic, and for all Americans to hurry home ASAP.
Suzanne and Bob have been married 40 years. They have six children between them: Kirsten, Dave, Dee, Daniel, Adrienne and Alexis. Her kids and grandkids tell her to sit tight, they will look after Bob, and everything will work out. Then Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of England, announced a stay-at-home order with the closure of borders and cancellation of many airline flights. As if that weren’t enough, Prince Charles tested positive for coronavirus. Suzanne has no idea when she will ever be able to go home. Talk about social long distancing! Now Boris Johnson has coronavirus!
So, if you’re feeling a little inconvenienced with conditions as they are in the United States, think of Suzanne, and be thankful if you can hunker down in your own home in your own country.
She needs cheering. You can find her on Facebook as D Suzanne Johnson. You might send up a prayer or two, also.

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at or visit his website at

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