Quarantine: Not for faint of heart or strong-willed


Quarantine: Not for faint of heart or strong-willed

Posted Saturday, April 25, 2020 9:00 pm

GARY MATHENY GARY MATHENY Quarantine is an unusual word, a word we don't normally use; at least, not often. We hear of things coming into the country that are quarantined, such as fruits and vegetables, or possibly animals, in order to assure they carry no disease. But, seldom do we hear it in regard to people. I researched and could not find a definitive answer for just how long a normal quarantine should last. However, I would think five to 10 days would be sufficient.  Although I am no nurse, doctor or scientist, I did once stay at a Holiday Inn Express. I do know that quarantining is not for the faint of heart or the strong-willed, either. Growing up, I felt the pangs of quarantining several times when sickness attacked me, but not my three brothers.  Isolation. It was just you and the four walls in your tiny bedroom. We lived in a small home, maybe 1,300 to 1,500 square feet. We were four growing boys, and Mom and Dad. Tight quarters, to say the least.  Looking back, the room where we four slept was about the size of two of those inside cruise-ship rooms. Small, very small. Being sent to your room was torture. The walls could definitely close around you. I remember mumps, measles and even scarlet fever that would confine us to our room. If we could stay out of bed, the only activities we had were reading, listening to the radio or playing with our toys.  There were no video games or TV, unless you could look through the window into the neighbor's living room. But then, there was no sound. I remember one summer, my older brother would stay up and sit on the end of the bunk bed and peer into the house next door so he could watch the late show. We didn’t have, and couldn’t afford, central air conditioning. So, in the summertime we kept the windows open at night to stay cool, if that was possible. I do remember lying in bed in the dark of night as the silence was broken by the buzzing of a mosquito, as it was searching my body for a midnight snack. I think I spent most of my young life sleeping with my head under the covers. Thinking about being sequestered in that small room brings back memories of the time my dad sentenced me to six weeks of no TV with the incarceration being the small cruise ship-sized bedroom. Kids today find it a treat to stay locked in their bedroom for hours upon hours. Not me. It was punishment. Like all boys growing up in the 1960s, we wanted to stay outside, even in the cold winter, playing football, baseball, basketball anything we could do for fun. I never liked school and especially homework, so when report cards came out my grades reflected my feeling for school, one of complete disdain. My punishment was no TV for six weeks, which meant I had to stay in my room at night and study while everyone sat in the den watching TV. That was the longest period of my life. Yet, my grades reflected a better student during the next reporting period. I don’t ever remember a time when we were sent to our rooms for punishment. Never were we denied our dinner. We were simply given a good old-fashioned spanking. We were expected to, as my dad would say, “straighten up.” In the years that followed, punishment was more of the restricted variety; you know, loss of freedom, which I guess could be considered confinement. No dating for the weekend. Loss of phone privileges ... on that old-fashioned, antiquated landline telephone.  Cellphones or any type gadget such as that were seen only on Buck Rogers, Lost in Space or James Bond movies. I do recall a Saturday morning being spotted with a dreadful cigarette in my mouth as I glanced in the mirror of my car, and seeing the sight behind me.  In his truck sat Dad as I slowly removed the Marlboro 100 and put it out on the floorboard. Not a word was said until Mom arrived home that evening and simply looked at me as I placed the only freedom I had in her hands: my car keys. In today’s world, being quarantined doesn’t sound so bad, you might think. Well, it is. I’m like the kid who comes up on a fence with a sign that says, "Wet Paint." He simply has to touch it. I’m told I can’t do something and it makes me want to do it that much more. Sure, I have a large TV to watch, as well as internet and computers, and I have a cellphone to use for calling my friends.  I love FaceTime. It allows me to see my children, but I can’t be around people. Recently, my wife and I took a walk on the greenway. I think I spoke to everyone I came upon, even their dogs. I miss people! I recently told my grandchildren that when I do get to see them, the first hour will be hugging and kissing. At this rate, the next time I get to see them may be their high-school commencement ceremonies. However, I do rise each morning thanking the good Lord for another day and good health. Not everyone may be able do that. After coffee and breakfast, I plan my day of MeTV, "The Price Is Right" and "Let’s Make A Deal." ——— (About the writer:  Gary Matheny is retired after a long career in the pharmaceutical industry.  Now a Cleveland resident, he is the author of two books, "If The Shoe Fits" and "The Bullet." He also writes a popular blog, "Life Happens." Email him at and follow him at his website,

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