THE IDES OF MARCH, REVISITED

Last year I penned a story for the February 28 issue of The Waynedale News titled: “Should we ‘Beware of the Ides of March’?” It was a lighthearted piece referencing the aforementioned expression found in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in 1601. “Ides” was just the usual way of saying “March 15th” in Shakespeare’s day. But on that date in 44 B.C., Shakespeare’s Caesar character was assassinated and so began its history as a day to lay low. “The notion of the Ides being a dangerous date was purely an invention of Shakespeare’s,” I wrote.

I asked readers, “… do we modern-day commoners have any cause for concern since the Ides of March just means the 15th of a month in the Roman calendar? But even though it has been 2,064 years since Caesar was assassinated in 44 B.C. people are still wary of this fateful day,” the article continued. And, I had to search for some significant events that occurred throughout history on March 15. None of the examples, however, proved comparable to COVID-19.

Little did I and many others realize one year ago the earth-shattering event whose early stages were visible and already taking place. In fact, COVID-19 was well underway in the U.S. with the first known death from the virus occurring the next day on February 29, 2020, in the Seattle area.

The pandemic continues to strike throughout the world and in our personal worlds as well, affecting all of our lives as we now approach the Ides of March 2021. I ask again, “Should we ‘Beware of the Ides of March’?” Maybe so, with new respect! We lost more than 500,000 people in the U.S. in less than a year.As we continue to experience and review all that’s happened in that year, relief doesn’t yet quite capture what we feel. And if we had to use two words to describe 2020, “anxiety” and “distress” probably are top contenders. There’s grief at all we’ve lost, frustration at restrictions on freedoms we took for granted and even wariness as we continue to prepare for the months to come. It’s still too soon to say, “Whew, glad that’s over!” COVID-19 has taught us not to take anything for granted.

Much will be written and said about 2020 and its historic impact on every part of our society. While it’s far too soon to fully appreciate the weight of this past year, I am certain it will leave many of us with lasting heartbreak and at least an awakening.

If I were asked to write a reflection on the past year, I would say it’s been a roller coaster ride – and I hate roller coasters – and a lesson in rapid adaption. Personally, I have learned to be very thankful for my wife, our family, close friends, our dogs and our home. I appreciate my aptitudes to entertain myself through reflection, reading, writing and even just watching television. I’ve also undertaken, with admitted reluctance, some successful attempts to complete household projects inspired by my wife’s vision and creativity.

But I’m craving the return of in-person meetings, gatherings, dinners, attending sporting events and concerts – especially rehearsals and performances where I can resume playing my instrument again in the Fort Wayne Area Community Band. And I miss all those occasions where I can comfortably give someone near me a big hug and they can hug me back.

To end on a humorous note – if anything entertaining can be found re the coronavirus – I’ve come across some amusing axioms by unknown authors regarding the COVID-19 epidemic and its effect on our lives this past year. Instead of again hearing “Wear a mask” and “I can’t breathe,” which were among the top 10 quotes of the year selected by a Yale Law School librarian, these sayings are not words to live by but at least may bring a smile to your hearts:

“What day is it?”

“My life feels like a test I didn’t study for.” 

“First time in history we can save the human race by laying in front of the TV and doing nothing. Let’s not screw this up.”

“The only thing I gained in 2020 was weight.”

“I survived the great toilet paper crisis of 2020.”

“After all the stupid things I’ve done in my life, if I die because I touched my face, I’m gonna be ticked off.”

“So far, COVID-19 is like looking both ways before you cross the street then getting hit by an airplane.”

“The coronavirus has turned us all into dogs: We roam the house looking for food, we’re told ‘no’ if we get too close to strangers, and we get really excited about car rides and walks.” 

“‘He chewed too loud’ became the number one cause of divorce.” 

And my personal favorite my wife would totally agree applies to me:

“I picked a hell of a time not to have learned how to cook for the past 54 years.”

Vince LaBarbera
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Vince LaBarbera

Vince is a Fort Wayne native. He earned a master of science degree in journalism and advertising from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. LaBarbera is retired but continues to enjoy freelance writing and serving the Radio Reading Service of the Allen County Public Library. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer