This morning I was having a difficult time remembering how long we’ve been in this national health emergency.

After a lot of calculations, I figured we have been in self-isolation an entire month now.

In the middle of March, we were informed that the reporters were going to start working from home. In the beginning, it was awkward and difficult. All of us felt isolated and like outcasts. Last week we started having daily online video meetings and it really helped.

I miss going to the newsroom and having access to the rest of the world. I’m grateful that PinalCentral cares about us enough to allow us to work from home.

This week we got out of the house just once but it was important to our sanity.

I was finally able to get Catherine’s birthday present, though it was three weeks late. I’ve been planning a special present for her birthday for more than two months. I had a beautiful old white gold Elgin wristwatch that I picked up at a garage sale four years ago but it didn’t work.

In January I took it to the wonderful jewelry store in downtown Casa Grande for a repair and they had two months to get it fixed. Plenty of time, except no one expected a global pandemic.

It wasn’t ready for her birthday at the end of March, so all I could do was pick her up a card at the drug store and tell her about it.

She really loves old watches and so do I.

It was kind of heartbreaking that I couldn’t give it to her on her birthday but of course she understood and remained excited about the present.

On Saturday, I got a call from an unknown number in Casa Grande. Normally, I don’t answer calls from people I don’t know but what the heck — I wasn’t doing anything and was even a little bored at the time.

It was the jewelry store and she said, “Mr. Headley, we have your gorgeous Elgin watch repaired and it’s ready for you to pick up.”

I was actually quite excited.

When I informed Catherine, it got even better and she said, “Can we go, can we go?”

Despite our self-quarantine, we had to go get it.

Just getting out in the car was a treat. I had not been out even once all week as I was not feeling well. Thankfully it was allergies as the spring pollen counts rise.

We got to the store but I didn’t know if this 100-year-old watch fit her wrist. Back in those days, watch bands were not adjustable and this gold watch had its original silver bracelet.

After some nervous struggling, it fit perfectly.

I know it is a small thing but getting the watch was a big event in our rather dark week.

With the global pandemic going on, it had been a long time since we really had anything happen that was uplifting.

This was the first glimmer of hope in a very dark world for us.

It is funny that a failed plan for a present ended up brightening our week and even our month. It gave us hope that someday this thing will be over. Someday we won’t have to listen to how many new cases happened in Arizona over the previous 24 hours or how many people died.

When they started burying people in a mass grave in New York last week, I was going bananas.

This has to be the darkest days of our lives, at least I hope so.

I ask you all to please stay home until we know it’s safe for us to get back together.

I can’t wait to go to a restaurant, a concert, a movie or to an antique store.

It’s going to get better — it has to. I’m tired of the bad news that constantly plays on television and the political banter spun on today’s news cycle.

By the way, Catherine really loved the watch but I loved the adventure of getting it to her. The story about this watch will last quite a while in our family’s history.

I think back to all the stories my mother told me about the Great Depression. Her stories were deep, dark, uplifting, funny and inspiring. They survived the “Dust Bowl” and we’re going to survive the “Pandemic.”

I can’t wait to hear all the stories that we will be sharing with our grandchildren.

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Justice reporter Jim Headley can be reached at jheadley@pinalcentral.com.

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