Three summers ago my parents and I sat on a bench waiting for the theater doors to open in Interlochen, Michigan, where my older daughter was at an arts camp. My dad could still travel and remember his days (and – as a sidenote – I could still fit in that dress). Harder days have come – and stranger days, too.
Sorrow comes for us all. A friend of mine made a plaintive statement on Facebook yesterday. With no bitterness in tone, she said something along these lines: “I read a lot about families and couples growing closer right now. The opposite thing has happened for me. We’re breaking up. It’s sad and hard.”
Our paths do not cross in person – this Facebook friend’s and mine – but I like seeing photos of where she’s traveling and the occasional throwback photo to our distant, shared, childhood. Now I know she is traveling with this burden too.
I hope her heart doesn’t ache more from reading an interview with one of the most content and joyful couples I know, Robin and Overton Thompson. I hope that wherever you are on your journey today, Bacon friend, your spirit might be lifted by theirs…
Hi Robin and Overton! Thank you for being willing to do a Bacon interview! We’re facing big challenges as a society, and you’ve also been dealing with a major personal health crisis. Overton, I’m so glad you’re recovering from the emergency appendectomy! Oh heavens.
Did you have any idea what was going on when you started feeling bad? Robin – given your medical background – did you? How quickly did you get to the hospital?
Overton: I had no idea there was any problem with my appendix. I thought I had a stomach bug. The night of Memorial Day I had a fever and was worried I might have COVID-19. The next day my entire abdomen was burning and we called my internist, Louis Johnson, who is excellent. He told me to come to the office and within about two minutes correctly diagnosed a perforated appendix. I was operated on that night.
Robin: I thought he had a “stomach bug”. He is not one to complain but said he had a stomach ache on Memorial Day. Generalized discomfort all across his abdomen and stayed away from the family. I became worried when he developed a fever that night. Of course, COVID-19 comes to mind but he did not have any respiratory symptoms. He felt better the next day with no fever. He did some work in the morning but by lunchtime he said he was significantly worse. It was unlike him, so I knew something was wrong. I called his Internist Louis Johnson and he suspected immediately that he had acute appendicitis. He is an amazing doctor. We went straight to the CT Scanner that showed a ruptured appendix then on to the OR for an emergent appendectomy.
What was it like being in the hospital in the Time of Corona?
Overton: The folks at Centennial were A+. They could not have been more attentive. Because Robin is a nurse, they let her stay in the room and spend the night. I definitely feel for those who are in the hospital without a family member during COVID. It makes a huge difference to have someone there.
Robin: I was able to stay the entire 4 days. The hospital was not nearly as crowded as it usually is during this time of Corona. The hospital is calmer and everyone wore a mask at all times. They have Purell on the wall every 5 feet! I felt safe.
What has your recovery been like, Overton? Robin, is he a good patient?
Overton: The recovery has taken a lot longer than I expected. I guess it’s a function of my advanced age! Still trying to get my energy back but feel much better.
Robin: Overton is an excellent patient! He is sweet and appreciative for his care. He has a high pain tolerance. He is also a rule-follower so he does exactly as he is told. The ideal patient.
Overton ~ how is Robin doing?
Robin is a fabulous caregiver. Despite my crankiness at not improving quicker, she is always upbeat. A great trait to have!
Robin ~ How is Overton?
He is doing well. He would have liked to have gotten better sooner but his expectations were a bit unrealistic. He is blessed to have avoided a raging infection! He is in good physical shape after playing so much tennis. His good health has served him well during this ordeal. He also has a strong faith that keeps him steady.
What does your daily life look like right now? Are you working?
Overton: I am back at work in my home office. Definitely makes it easier not having to go downtown. It is very strange however not to be interacting with my colleagues more often. We all like the no commute and the dress code, but we all miss each other. It will be nice to reconnect when all this passes.
Robin: Overton has always been a fastidious worker. He is diligent and focused. Prior to this surgery he worked full days from our home library. He seems to really enjoy the change of scenery. His desk is in front of a big window. He gets to see the neighborhood kids and the walkers saunter down the cul de sac.
Do you have any special plans for the summer?
Overton: We look forward to spending time in Monteagle this summer. I can work remotely from there just as easily as in Nashville. Monteagle is a great place to recover and recharge your batteries.
Robin: We are limited with the COVID-19 but thankful to have a summer cottage in the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly. We just love it there! We go off and on all summer.
True or false: “I love all the extra time at home!” (Explain.)
Overton: I do like being at home. When you are an empty nester, it is pretty easy. As I said above, though, I miss my colleagues. I think it is definitely healthier to be around other people. Robin has been great to let me intrude on her daily routines and has not killed me – yet!
Robin: TRUE. We are both still working and we have a new grandbaby! Life is good for us. I know many people have great hardships and we feel for them but we are enjoying this time at home.
Overton: I never was one to work a lot at home. I now realize how technology can make that easy. I will definitely continue to work at home some once we return to some sense of normalcy. One of the silver linings has been seeing more of our neighbors. That has definitely been one of the things we have lost in our fast-paced world. I hope that will continue as well.
Robin: Our joy is not dependent upon circumstances. Difficult events make that all the more apparent. Our joy is in the Lord. His presence and his care. We both feel strongly that he is in control.
We’re all trying to make sense of George Floyd’s death, I think. What it means about our society. What changes should we make to ensure this doesn’t happen again? I know this is political territory and I totally understand if you want to take a pass on this question. I do think we need to elevate voices of reason and conscience and faith. I would truly be so grateful to hear what you think.
Overton: At the end of the day, we are all called to love each other, no matter our race, our nationality, or anything else that might make us different from other people. That is at the core of my faith. Whether we are “yellow, black or white,” we are all “precious in [God’s] sight.” That is the message that needs to be spread throughout our country and the entire world.
Robin: Pass. It would be too hard to articulate all that needs to be said and done to rectify this terrible injustice.
What are you most worried about, now and going forward?
Overton: What I am most worried about is that at some point this will all be over and Robin will want her life back. 🙂
Robin: I do not feel worried. Trust in the Lord.
What are you reading/watching/listening to? We all need recommendations!
Overton: I am reading Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry. Reading Wendell Berry sitting on the porch in Monteagle is hard to beat. We are watching “Fauda” on Netflix. Wow.
Robin: I am getting ready to start The Choice, a memoir by Dr. Edith Eva Eger. It was recommended by our daughter Emily who is a voracious reader.
What gives you hope?
Overton: My faith gives me hope. “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Robin: Jesus, his indwelling holy spirit, his holy word. Also, the angelic face of our 4 month old granddaughter Eleanor Ann Eischeid.
And now for some speed dating questions to wrap up…
Favorite beverage in the Time of Corona?
Overton: Gin and Tonic
Robin: Diet Ginger ale
Robin: Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cooking or ordering in?
Overton: Ordering in!
Robin: Ordering for sure. We love the wings with Alabama white sauce at Martins on Belmont Blvd
Seeing more of your kids?
Overton: We are! Except for our doctor daughter who self-quarantines after seeing COVID patients.
Robin: Always love seeing the kids. They are all married and live in Nashville and come over frequently. Emily is a radiology resident at Vanderbilt, she has to self quarantine for 14 days when she has direct contact with patients.
Overton: Not since my surgery!
Robin: Walking and the occasional Pilates online
Favorite place to be outside?
Overton: Mini heath bars
Robin: Vodka Cranberry
Most annoyed by?
Overton: Moles in my yard!
Most encouraged by?
Overton: Our neighborhood zoom meetings with fellow church members.
Robin: Our new baby and my dear friends
Best advice for staying calm, and sane, and hopeful?
Overton: Have a spouse like Robin.
Robin: LAUGH – My mother always said “Laugh and the world laughs with you… Cry and you cry alone. Practice mental gratitude. Count your blessings. Keep your eyes on Jesus.
Thank you so much, Robin and Overton!
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And: Happy Father’s Day, Dad! And Happy Birthday, Mom! Hang in there. “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
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