Some of you may remember my grandfather, Ora Fenner. He left this earth in the early ’90s. To say he was opinionated would be a major understatement. He could argue with the best of them. I have said many times that I wonder if somehow, he could come back for a visit. I can hear his voice so plain: “Well boy, tell me what’s going on now and tell me what I have missed.” My answer is always the same — I do not even have one. How would you explain where we are at to anyone that did not see it all transpire?
I may start with: Interest rates are up and right at 4 percent. When he was here, they would have been around 10 precent. Gas is around $3 per gallon, we have the highest inflation rate in the last 40 years, there are jobs everywhere starting at $20 per hour or higher with very few takers. There is a virus that came from China called COVID-19. We all are encouraged, some may even say required or even forced, to wear a mask in public and take up to three vaccines to reduce our chances of getting it, or not getting it as bad. Some people believe the virus is real and precautions must be taken. Others feel it was all introduced by our government to gain more control over its citizens and that it’s nothing more than the flu. This topic is debated and fought over constantly. There is one guy, Mr. Fauci, that’s trying to help the best he can, and he takes more grief over it than most anybody. Like it’s somehow his fault.
Politically, there is more turmoil than ever. People that have never had opinions in the past now have strong ones about everything. Rioters have taken over large cities and occupied them for months, leaving total devastation when they vacate. Some even applaud the rioters for promoting their cause.
Some vent, or rant as it’s called, on Facebook (it would take way too long to explain that one to him). Some comment on every article written in our local papers. This one is kind of amusing as most of them even use made up names to hide their identity, kind of like Bruce Wayne. The only credentials you seem to need to be an expert is to watch a couple episodes of “House” to gain medical knowledge or the movie “Air Force One” to learn how powerful the president is and how much control he should or should not have.
He may even ask me, “Is it real. Do you really need to vaccinate and wear masks and even quarantine when asked?”
My answer would be something like: Well, I am not an expert on anything medical and I have no experience in government on a local or even federal level. When it’s an issue I can’t fake an intelligent response to, it’s always best to defer to the ones that do. But I can say that it would be hard to convince the families of all the visitations and funerals that I have been to that it’s just the flu.
I would also tell him there are electric cars now. We even have cars that will park themselves when prompted. I think you just sit there, and it does it. There are probably as many female truck drivers as there are male. Many long-standing businesses that you remember are no longer there. Donald Trump was president for four years. He was that young guy that built the apartments in Cincinnati. There is more anger and fighting and turmoil than has ever been witnessed in history.
But you know what Papaw, there is still so much good in our world. When there is a genuine need, it seems there are always many there to help. I think more money and awareness about the needs of others is bigger than it’s ever been. The church I attend has what is called “free sales” twice a year for Christmas and back to school. Hundreds of new items are donated and given away to people that are struggling to afford those items needed for kids in the area.
I would also report to him that I am not completely sure how it works, but that my mom came to see him a couple weeks ago and that she can fill him in with much more detail. He needs to look her up and see his daughter again. He would know that when she passed the community made us all feel that we were not grieving alone, that there are many others that are willing to offer anything they could to help us. We all felt loved.
He would lastly know that maybe there is more bad than ever, but there is also more good than ever.
It’s a mess here, but still good.
Randy Butler is a lifelong resident of Highland County and a licensed real estate agent for Classic Real Estate in Hillsboro.