Mr. A In Time Of COVID-19

I popped in on Mr A in March this year. 

“Finally found a buyer.  Sold the house.  Have to be out by the 1st of May,” he said.

A frown furrowed his forehead.  

“Couldn’t do much clearing out over the winter.  I’m fed up,” he mumbled.  “Arthritis is killing me.”

He looked tired and on edge.

“You’re allowed to be fed up,” I reassured him.  “At your age.  It’s a lot for anyone to deal with.”

Self-confessed hoarder.  Mr A’s garage is bursting with stuff.
My fed-up friend, Mr. A, at the entrance to his packed garage.













I pulled out my phone to take pictures to post on Kijiji. Of random stuff he might be able to sell.

Like these –

A treasured, dusty collection of miniature cars .
A ferocious coconut pirate head hanging from the basement ceiling.











Stars of the silver screen. 
Hollywood hotties of yesteryear …








Some items he will not part with.  “That’s coming with me to the retirement home. Not selling!”

… this little tin bucket. “My grandma brought milk home everyday, when I was a little boy, in this pail.”
… Grandmother’s kitchen scale, a real beauty of an antique.
“These things I want to keep ….:


Framed family photos are definitely not for sale! 

The chalet he grew up in on a Swiss-German mountain village.
Framed photo of grandparents stiffly posing in Victorian attire.
Little mother holding a log as large as she is.  “Dad chopped the tree down. She was a strong woman!”

Rickety sheds scattered around the sprawling backyard, all bursting at the seams – 

He built the sheds himself with bits of this-and-that …
… and kept adding makeshift structures in the backyard …







… to house the increasing mountains of stuff he kept finding!
Even the abandoned outhouse is probably full of useless things.







Mr Albert nursing a beloved miniature car he hopes to sell. “It’s hard to say farewell to a lifetime of memories.”


We said goodbye and I promised to come back again soon. 

Then lockdown happened.   Two days later. 

The world changed.

Hadn’t been out in 12 days when I drove past the mall some days back.   A long weekend Saturday and there wasn’t a single vehicle in the parking lot. 

Strange, surreal sight, but angst at being away from home urged me on.  I didn’t stop to take a picture.

Wore a mask, of course — dust mask left over from home renovations — and disposable rubber gloves.  I felt foolish and looked ridiculous.

Pulled into the supermarket parking lot and encountered masked, gloved figures like myself, hurriedly dumping bags of groceries into trunks and backseats. 

Didn’t feel all that foolish after all.

The line-up stretched out into the street.  I was thankful we weren’t in the dead of winter.

At every turn, grim warnings and reminders of the strange season we find ourselves in.

Cautionary warnings posted on  glass doors and windows.   A grim-eyed security guard waved me in.  He was masked, no gloves.  I snapped a photo of the poster on the door, but dared not ask if I could take a picture of him.  

My mask and see-through rubber gloves blended beautifully into the collage of crazed shoppers.  

Designated shoppers feverishly foraged for food.  Tension hung tight in the air.

Masked mother and son in produce section
The look in the eyes above the mask speaks volumes.



“Gotta get out of here!”







Ominous urgency.








The bakery aisle was empty of flour.  Not one bag left.

No flour in the baking aisle. (Forget about finding yeast.) The whole world is stuck at home baking their hearts out — and posting pictures of their products on Facebook, of course.  Boredom births maestros!



Flour is now the new toilet paper it seems.


Masked cashier, behind a plexi-glass screen. Surprised to notice how many store workers were not wearing masks or gloves.




Hopefully the lot from my cart will last the next two weeks.

Called Mr A to check in on him.  He’s unhappy.  Naturally.   Unable to visit the wife in the nursing home, time hangs on his hands.  A friend gets his groceries, he told me, when I offered to do his shopping. 

“There’s only so much time you can spend in a day feeding the birds and visiting with rabbits,” he mumbled.

He was worried he wouldn’t be able to move on May 1st.  Anxious about the mountain of stuff to be discarded.

I told him not to fret.  “A bunch of girlfriends and I will head out there with mops, brooms and garbage bags.  We’ll come.  When lockdown is all done.”

He sounded relieved. 

The last time I visited, we walked around his yard.  I watched as Mr A fed the birds and wild rabbits and shooed the neighbour’s cat away.

“Keeps coming back. Terrible fellow,” Mr A grumbled. “Steals the rabbit’s food!”

I almost twisted my ankle when I tripped over a bunny-burrow mound rising from the raggedy grass.

Tea time and Bunny popped out of his burrow. 
His handiwork. One of the many hand-built bird-feeders in the backyard, with metal cones at the base to deter thieving squirrels.
Mr. A pumping water from the well he dug himself over fifty years ago.
Snack-time for the critters. A squirrel nibbles his way through a fine feast. 


This structure with grim graffiti was from a former place of work. Used to store petroleum, I think he said.


Then the world changed.  Suddenly, in an instant.

The enforced isolation is hard on seniors,  particularly those who live alone and aren’t willing or able to navigate technology.

Like my dad.  And Mr A.

Mr A’s wife owned a computer – she was an accountant by profession – but she’s been in the nursing home for the past few years.   A single landline phone sits on his kitchen table.  His only connection with the world outside.

Mr A sleeps on the hospital bed his wife used until she was moved to a nursing home. He pressed buttons to show me how the head and foot of the bed could be raised and lowered when required.  It’s now for sale.


“You must miss seeing her,” I murmured.

“What do you think?” he replied.

Wish there was more I could do.



Then, on a brighter note … Bunny is back!  

Spotted the rascal hopping outside my study window last week – the bunny, my-sworn-enemy!
Caught occasional glimpses of Bunny in the winter, staring at the stone rabbit by the chair under the apple tree, then he was gone for weeks at a time.


Who’d have thought I’d be happy to see him? The wretched creature chews up my flowers!

Bunny’s my reminder that life goes on nevertheless.  That Nature won’t pause.  And Joy will return.

Thankful the weather’s getting nicer. Finally.  Pruning and digging time again. 

                                            Garden went from this in the summer —






To this —






And now this mess that I can’t wait to started on  …


Thankful for technology in this time of stringent distancing.  Thankful for Zoom family and other online gatherings.  

Oh! The blessing of Zoom! A church committee meeting.

Puppy can’t believe everyone’s home.

Puppy checks in on anyone who’s not to be seen.  He can’t believe the good fortune that keeps us all home.







Thankful for family dinners.  All four of us.  Together.  Everyday. After ages.

Thankful for time.  To write –

That’s me!





To stop and stare –

Time to catch my breath and take delight in a light-and-crystal shadow show on the window sill …
Time to stare at pink streaks of setting sun glowing on the bedroom ceiling …


Life changed. Overnight.  An un-imagined, dystopian pause.  The world over. 

Our front window – a call to prayer for safety and protection of the nation and our frontline workers.

When normal returns, we’ll forever be changed.  What will  that normal be?

While we wait, what do we do with this time on our hands?

A pause to ponder and re-prioritize?



 Stay safe, stay home.  Reach out. 

Be thankful. 

Love this precious life. 

Our entire street stood outside on their driveways one Saturday night and banged on pots and pans in appreciation of our medical and frontline workers.  Listen …


Until next time,                                                                                                  





PS: Click here  to read Mr A’s story in Goodbye Yesterdays

Click here for Thursdays With Harold by Selina Stambi                                                                                                                                                                                                           SelinascoverKobo
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22 thoughts on “Mr. A In Time Of COVID-19

  1. Selina Stambi is a born writer who is able to capture our everyday experiences in a descriptive language and transports it into a colourful realm of imagination and creativity.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s good to see you Selina, I’m glad you’re safe and well. Also nice to see Mr A is doing well if a little irritated by confinement! These are strange times indeed and it will be interesting to see what happens on the other side.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you Sonali – I spent a lovely dreamy hour reading through this and taking the virtual walk through your garden. You’ve got lots more mirrors this time. Your neighbours – I notice they can look down on your garden. Do they ever comment? IT must be quite delightful for them – especially at night. I’ve been forwarding your stuff to Hiong Hsu – she’s a very busy doctor in Sydney but has told me how much she enjoys reading my forwards. I’m very, very proud of you, you know.! How are Romesh and the girls? Life has changed drastically for the whole world. We’ve been on lockdown for one month tomorrow. Everyone is grumbling about having to stay at home except me – I’ve had a lot of practice at this – I’m used to staying in for months at a time! Lots of love Christine 

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love hearing from you, Christine. We had an “open garden” for the neighbours last summer, with a map for a half-hour self-guided tour, culminating with drinks and goodies on the deck. We had quite a crowd and it was a fun afternoon. Thank you for sharing the posts. Delighted that others are enjoying them as well. Love, xx


  4. Hi my dear, Your pictures and writing tell the story of the compassionate person you are. Always caring so much about others. For Mr. A being alone, having his wife in a nursing home, then having to move from a home where they lived for decades, That must be so painful for him! You are such a blessing to this gentleman. May you too be blessed. Joan

    On Fri, 17 Apr 2020 at 22:36, Never 2 Old 2 Dream wrote:

    > Selina Stambi posted: “I popped in on Mr A in March this year. “Finally > found a buyer. Sold the house. Have to be out by the 1st of May,” he > said. A frown furrowed his forehead. “Couldn’t do much clearing out over > the winter. I’m fed up,” he mumbled. “Arthritis is ki” >

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Sonali, What a beautiful tribute and daily life living of Mr A. I sure hope that he gets an opportunity to see this. You are so gifted and creative Sonali with how you put stories and pictures together to truly capture an attentive audience. I love your stories and pictures and feel like I am on the journey of life with you. It truly is a blessing! Keep safe and know that you are loved. Blessings to you and yours. Cathy ❤️🙏

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

  6. So interesting to read your story and I hope your friend finds a wonderful new place to live! It’s so kind of you to keep popping in on him! ❤️

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

    1. He’s found a place already, unfortunately not where his wife is. So sad, isn’t it? And now he’s stressed about when he’ll have to move, etc. He’s a sweet man . Thank you for popping in — as always, Bev. xx


  7. Thank you, cousin, for this story. So very recognizable. It is indeed a strange time, but there is indeed still beauty and joy all around, as well as gratefulness for the good health and safety of loved ones. The way the world is (for the most part) pulling together, sharing information and resources, is a thing of wonder, of beauty. On the up side, Mother Nature is having a much-needed breather …. though, of course, we are all hoping for an end to this pandemic. Sooner rather than later. Stay safe and well! Love and a big hug.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello cuzzie, so good to hear from you. You’ve been off the radar for a while and I wondered how things were with you. Loved the pic of baby you and mama. Stay safe and well. Sending love and a big hug back … virtual, of course!!


  8. This is the post from where I had taken a detour to the time when you had first met Mr A. I also had the chance to immerse myself in your dreamy garden there. That, he has been quite the Homeric hero, is evidenced by your powerful, if laconic account of him, the glimpses of his life in past, the assortment of collectibles he has. I am touched by your efforts to support him through the chaotic times we are going through. The vivid description at the utility store is symbolic of what’s happening all over the planet, except that some places are experiencing a grislier version of the same. We too banged pots and pans, one day.

    I loved how those pictures and captions describing them, and clips of cartoon and quotes, have become one with the lucid stream of your prose.


    1. Hello Umashankar, your kind observations are such a pleasure to receive! I enjoy your writing style too — just followed your blog. Thank you for dropping in. Have a bright week. Stay safe. Until next time … 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post, Sonali. I love the way you blend in photography with your posts. Very effective. You looked very dapper in your mask and gloves.

    I can’t wait to see your 2020 backyard video, Sonali. That’s always a highlight. I know I said I wanted to do a story on it for my Bondingfyre blog, but I’ve kinda gone on hiatus there to try to make a few dollars on Medium. I’ve had some decent success there and hope to have a breakout month soon. What I might do, if you are agreeable with it, is to do an article in Medium linking your video and plugging your blog as well.

    I do have your Gmail address. If you’d like to subscribe to my newsletter, I’d be honored to have you aboard. Just let me know.

    Stay well, my friend.


    On Fri, Apr 17, 2020 at 7:36 PM Never 2 Old 2 Dream wrote:

    > Selina Stambi posted: “I popped in on Mr A in March this year. “Finally > found a buyer. Sold the house. Have to be out by the 1st of May,” he > said. A frown furrowed his forehead. “Couldn’t do much clearing out over > the winter. I’m fed up,” he mumbled. “Arthritis is ki” >


    1. Hello Jay, as always, such a great pleasure to have a visit from you! Thank you! That wasn’t me in the mask and gloves, though — I was taking the pictures! Will email you. Have a great week, friend.


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