Ben Fields: Gotta catch 'em all (Opinion)

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Ben Fields

Ben Fields

I remember, sometime in early April, there was genuine optimism that the novel coronavirus would be fading within a few weeks and I might be able to be in the hospital with my wife as she received her final chemotherapy treatment. That seems way longer than a month ago and completely ridiculous now.

We made the trip Tuesday to the Stefanie Spielman Center at Ohio State University in the same fashion we had for the multiple trips (two chemo sessions and another for a day of scans and tests) in April. My son and I stayed in the car for several hours while my wife underwent the final round.

The treatments have produced near miraculous results. There’s still surgery and radiation coming up, but it feels like Tuesday marked the closing of an exceedingly difficult chapter of this whole experience for her, and for us as a family.

There were places my son and I could’ve gone, and maybe things we could’ve done during this particular trip. But we’re still viewing travel, especially between states, with the utmost caution. We certainly don’t want to pick up the virus, given my wife’s chemically weakened immune system, and we don’t want to carry anything back that might be passed on to someone else.

While my wife was receiving her infusions, I did homework in the car with our son. Then, I drove the kid around parts of Columbus, most of which were arms of Ohio State’s sprawling campus, while he played Pokemon Go.

I’ve delved into a lot of my son’s interests with near-encyclopedic dedication, so I can participate with him in whatever it is. It’s either a character flaw or an asset that I’m wired to enjoy learning a lot about stuff that doesn’t matter. That wasn’t hard with the Marvel movies or “Star Wars,” where a lot of that knowledge was already built in. It was a little more difficult when he wanted to watch the Pixar “Cars” movies multiple times a day, but I found a way to get into it. The Power Rangers really pushed what I was willing to put up with. Fortunately, that phase didn’t last too long.

The Pokemon thing is much more difficult, for various reasons. I think it bugs my wife even more. But it’s not going anywhere, and it’s not like I can take him to a baseball game to get his mind on something else.

Many of you, I’m sure, know about Pokemon Go, the mobile game that has people go to different landmarks in their town to collect fictional animals. It was embraced with near hysterical fervor across a broad range of people when it launched several years ago.

I remember at the time watching participants with detached amusement, mainly because, in West Virginia, most of the prominent landmarks in a given town are churches and libraries. Swarms of people would surround these locales at all times of the day to collect the digital creatures, often to the confusion or consternation of the regulars.

I don’t know how I feel about it as a participant, especially using a car, when the original intent was to get people outside, walking and socializing. I have found myself getting excited and more than occasionally lending a hand when my son lands a rare creature or engages in a tough battle.

I will say that it certainly has helped pass the time. It’s also helped back home, when the weather’s been bad, as a way to get out of the house and do something. I’m sure that, on Tuesday, we could’ve been doing more constructive things, but there are only so many books you can read and crafts you can make in the confines of a metal box with wheels.

There’s every chance the kid’s mind will be on something completely different next month. But a month in the current situation doesn’t pass the same way it used to. And there are more trips to Columbus to make. For now, I’m warily embracing the mantra that you’ve “gotta catch ’em all.”

Ben Fields is the Gazette-Mail opinion editor. Reach him at or follow @BenFieldsWV on Twitter.

Funerals for Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Adams, Mary - 1 p.m., Ohio Valley Memorial Gardens.

Bibbee, Naomi - 1:15 p.m., procession to leave O'Dell Funeral Home, Montgomery.

Bordenet, Effie - 2 p.m., Sunset Memorial Park, South Charleston.

Dorsey, Charles - 11 a.m., Ravenswood Cemetery, Ravenswood; also streaming live, see obituary.

Evans Jr., Frank - 1 p.m., St. Timothy Lutheran Church.

Fleck, Rosia - 2 p.m., Britton Cemetery, Charleston.

Fox, Helen - 2:15 p.m., Beech Grove Cemetery, Eleanor.

Hedrick, William - 1 p.m., Wallace Memorial Cemetery, Clintonville.

Johnson, Barry - Noon, Mt. Moriah Cemetery.

Mathes, Helen - 1 p.m., Morris Funeral Home, Cowen.

McClure, Karen - 11 a.m., East Lawn Cemetery, Canvas.

Mikeal, Chelsea - 1 p.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Parog, Drema - Noon, Mt. Tabor Church of God, St. Albans.