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Gratitude in Anxious Times
These are unique and challenging times, to say the least. I hope you are doing well and staying safe and healthy. The novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, has changed our lives. At the time of writing this, Dallas County has 1,432 confirmed cases and 22 deaths, while Tarrant County has 637 confirmed cases and 20 deaths. But we will eventually come out of this and perhaps be even better neighbors, friends, parents, and people. Our offices are located in Dallas and Fort Worth, which are under stay-at-home orders. However, law firms are considered “essential” businesses and can still be open. The extent of this exception is not crystal clear, as the orders continuously change and are not always worded the most clearly. We are balancing our duties to both ensure our clients’ rights and help curb the spread of the virus. I have ordered my staff to work from home. Thankfully, most of our cases and files are on the cloud and can be accessed virtually. During the day, our phones are forwarded to Lucy, who is taking calls from her house and brings a bit of cheer to those who call in and hear her friendly voice. We are conducting meetings through Zoom and FaceTime when that “in- person” meeting is preferred. As far as the courts go, the Texas Supreme Court has recently issued an order that tolls (extends) the statute of limitations (deadline to file a lawsuit) until June 1. This means the court is allowing plaintiffs a longer period of time to file their lawsuits given the pandemic. Dallas County has postponed all jury trials. I am going into the office at least twice a week in the afternoons to check mail, monitor cases, and take advantage of the extremely high-speed internet! It’s also a good, quiet environment to focus and be productive in. At home, I have started my new role as an elementary school teacher. I’m sure some of you are in the same boat. My two daughters have online packets to follow and assignments to turn in throughout the week. I’ve been surprised by how hands-on it is for us parents to help teach the lessons and guide them through the work and assignments. My wife and I alternate — one of us teaches the kindergartner and the other teaches the third grader for a week, and we switch the following week. My wife has much more patience than me.
Admittedly, I make a horrible elementary school teacher, and I have a renewed appreciation for what teachers do during the workday. Our little boy is working on his letters and doing his best. When we are not teaching our kids, my wife and I try to get some work done at home, but this is quite a challenge given the close quarters and chaotic environment with our three young kids. Despite the challenges and anxiety of uncertainty, I appreciate some of the blessings during this time. We see our neighbors a lot more now — albeit from a safe distance. People are walking their dogs, riding bikes, jogging, and strolling the neighborhood. There is a stronger sense of community. This time has forced me to slow down and appreciate the smaller things. During this time, my 6-year-old daughter has learned how to ride her bike without training wheels, and the little man has successfully mastered shelling pistachios and peanuts. We have also had time to prepare and cook better meals and exercise more. This quote from one of my heroes, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, seems right on point during this time: “In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” I hope you are doing well and are staying positive.
-Patrick R. Kelly
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