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Hello from Alaska

WASHINGTON — This week, I had an email exchange with a person who had every reason to be disappointed in me.

Instead, he insisted his faith in me was steadfast, and I’m not the least bit embarrassed to tell you I wept in the way I’ve always imagined people do after Superman sweeps down for the rescue. One moment you’re staring wide-eyed at the bus about to run you over, and the next you’re up in the clouds bracing for a gentle landing.

The morning after our exchange, I woke up still thinking about it and realized I had stumbled upon an essential truth: The people who have been the kindest during this pandemic will be, for the rest of my days, the kindest people I have ever known.

It takes a special brand of spiritual stamina to assume the best in people when you’ve seen so much of the worst in recent times. I aspire to be that compassionate, and on days I come close, I have to give a lot of credit to our two rescue dogs, Franklin and Walter. There are humans who love me very much, but only our pups repeatedly stop and stare at me during the day with the devotion of a first love. It’s hard to overstate the reassurance of that.

I’ve wanted to write an entire column about how dogs have gotten so many of us through the pandemic, but I’d hear from a lot of unhappy cat people, and I’d feel really bad about that. I’ve loved my share of cats over the years, I tell you. Especially Winnie and Reggie, who were part of my family’s life long before my husband showed up.

Winnie was your classic kitty who had two favorites and stalked everyone else. I felt special every time we crossed paths and she didn’t hiss at me. Reggie was like a dog, except more agile. He once managed to climb into the attic and then dropped two stories, landing behind a wall. This was during my single-mother days, and I will never forget our handyman coming to the rescue after I called him and described through tears how Reggie was stuck in a closet wall.

“I’ll save the kitty!” he bellowed as he walked through our door wielding a mallet. And he did. By the time Reggie was free, he was covered in plaster dust and mute from yowling and ready to eat dinner.

So, in memory of Reggie, I won’t devote this column to dogs. Also, you aquarium people are on your own. I understand fish can be mesmerizing, but where’s the adoration?

I’m needy right now, one could argue. And one has, but we won’t name him.

By the way, I wonder if you’ve heard that former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has COVID-19 and is now encouraging all of us to wear masks.

Bet you didn’t see that coming.

And don’t send me another round of angry emails about how you’re tired of my tricking you into reading my column about something else and then pivoting to the pandemic. This is strategy, my friends.

From Palin’s statement to People magazine: “Through it all, I view wearing that cumbersome mask indoors in a crowd as not only allowing the newfound luxury of being incognito, but trust it’s better than doing nothing to slow the spread.”

COVID-19 can “really knock you down,” she added.

As of this week, the virus has killed more than 550,000 people in the U.S. Nevertheless, a recent PBS Newshour/NPR/Marist poll recently reported that 41% of Republicans, and 49% of Republican men, are not planning to get vaccinated.

And here I am, insisting that I want those Republican men to live.

I am grateful to the former governor of Alaska for speaking out, and I hope her recovery is swift and full. I also hope all those Republican men who admire Sarah Palin will now find the courage to bare their mighty arms for that little needle that is saving lives.

As for the rest of you: Be Sarah, my fellow Americans.

For a little while longer, wear a mask.

— — —

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. She is the author of two non-fiction books, including “…and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. She is also the author of The New York Times bestselling novel, “The Daughters of Erietown.” To find out more about Connie Schultz (schultz.connie@gmail.com) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

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