Larry L. Oatman: I wish I had a magic wand

    In 1954, I earned my first professional dollar, by performing a magic act for the Bath Community Club in the elementary school cafeteria. I was just 14, and actually it was two dollars. I still have one of the dollars in a keepsake frame along with a Lima News clipping of the event.

    I performed about a dozen simple magic tricks with the help of my “magic wand.” Really, it was just a 12-inch dowel rod that I painted black with white tips on each end. I just pretended it was magic to make things seem to disappear.

    Today, with the global coronavirus, I really wish I did had a magic wand, one that I could wave and make this pandemic disappear.

    All those horrible deaths. There were three elderly people I knew who died in the Bluffton Mennonite Home. One was a dear friend I met when my mother was a resident there until she passed away two years ago.

    My mother always told me that “God will take care of me.” And through all my difficulties, God always has. God always provides me enough, and I am most grateful.

    Thanks to God’s grace, I’ve survived a paralyzing stroke, bladder cancer, the loss of my right eye, diabetes, and extreme financial difficulties avoiding three near bankruptcies, plus the loss of a number of loved ones. But, so have lots of people, and far worse than me.

    Somehow, call it something bigger than just magic, God has always taken care of me.

    For 25 years, I’ve lived alone. That’s been by my choice as I’m blessed with a large number of friends.

    But these past three months of this quarantine has been most difficult, and for the first time in my life I’ve felt lonely since I can’t see those I care about. Days now seem to be just a blur.

    I only go out to the grocery store wearing a mask and then very late at night when there are no crowds.

    I am really saddened when I think of those 18-year-olds who missed all that goes with being a high school senior. Also, those who hurt financially from the loss of their job. I’m not into sports much anymore, but I appreciate those who are missing their wonderful pastime.

    Like a lot of people, I have the phone, radio, television, Internet — but I really miss being with my friends and my church.

    It is personally upsetting that this virus has seemed to increase so much hatred, especially evident on the Internet’s social media. I love my country and its politics too — that’s America. But not this vile hatred. It must stop. The opposite of God’s love is hate. We must all find a way to come together and put aside this despicable hatred so we can truly be what our forefathers envisioned.

    Today, as I look at that framed 1954 newspaper clipping and that first dollar bill, I wish I had a real magic wand to make all today’s trouble go away. But perhaps the real magic to make this pandemic and the hatred disappear is not printed on the other side of that dollar, but today’s dollar — “in God we trust.”

    Larry L. Oatman is a writer and lives in Lima.

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