The beautiful spring of 2020 was spent sequestered, pacing the floor. All social activity was canceled. Organizations went dormant and we had to award scholarships via email, give up on the March for Meals fund raiser for the Meals on Wheels program, and cancel book sales and other fundraisers for worthy projects that may or may not have happened this summer. We even missed a Granddaughter wedding in Virginia in late May. They postponed the celebration until both families can get together sometime in the future (Maybe 2025?). And most importantly, the last four episodes of NCIS season 17 were put on hold as the cast and crew sequestered.
We have hunkered down, socially distanced, self-isolated and just plain stayed home from Spring Equinox past the Summer Solstice. No graduation, no Fourth of July, no state fair. Here we are half way to the Autumnal Equinox wondering if school will start as usual. While the past 30 days have been less restrictive than the first 90 it doesn’t look like “normal” is going to find us anytime soon.
I am reminded of “the old days” when if you got the flu, you stayed home and warned everyone you knew not to come visit. Kids brought sicknesses home from school. It was expected. Usually it was a month or two of various kids in and out of school, but a school vacation would come and when we went back, whatever had plagued us was gone.
I had the measles before I started school. Got them from my cousin who was of school age. Her family lived in a different town, and we went to visit, not knowing she was sick. In those days, phones weren’t as prolific, and one or the other family likely didn’t have one, so we traveled to visit and brought home the measles. I remember not feeling well, and most of all the doctor coming to see me at home … something that wouldn’t happen now no matter what.
And everyone had the chickenpox. That sneaked in every year and mostly it was the first graders who got it, but always there would be an older kid who had escaped it somehow in first grade and he’d come down with it and miss a week of school. The teachers mostly had had it in their childhood, so they didn’t have to worry. That was still the format when my kids were in school. Chickenpox would just appear one day. We didn’t have to take them to “pox parties” to expose them, because just by being at school and with their friends they would eventually get it. While it was a worry, it was expected and dealt with accordingly. I do not remember, either in my childhood or my kids’, anyone having more than the usual reaction to chickenpox. The worst that might happen was a tiny scar because you pulled a scab.
Mumps was another, a little more serious, scourge. They were not as easily passed along (more infectious than contagious) so some of us never got the mumps in school. I escaped them until I was 20 years old when Hubby’s brother brought them home from school and I got them from him. I was not very sick, but my glands did swell and I stayed home for a couple of weeks. Luckily, Hubby had already had them as a kid so he was OK.
There were other diseases: scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, meningitis, polio that were much more serious and feared, but not as prevalent. Smallpox had been eradicated a couple generations before with the discovery of the vaccine and I remember the excitement when finally there was a vaccine for polio. It would often become epidemic (the last one was 1951 or so) and the swimming pools would close and we wouldn’t be able to be out and about for a few weeks during the summer. My kids were young when finally the vaccine was perfected. Everyone was encouraged to get it. Instead of a shot, it was presented on a sugar cube.
I understand that the coronavirus is much more virulent than the childhood diseases we fought off, but it doesn’t seem that the powers that be, either medical or political, have learned from past experience. 20/20 hindsight leads me to believe past practice might have worked in this fight or at least eased the battle we have been fighting for six months. I think it has become too political, as does everything these days. We never let a serious crisis go the waste (to quote Rahm Emanuel, who was paraphrasing Winston Churchill.).
I read that the Black Plague ushered in a time of enlightenment that led finally to the Renaissance and they didn’t even have TV for 24/7 play by play. We can only hope we arrive at the other side of this “disturbance” a little wiser and certainly more understanding.
But guess what! Last news was that NCIS, season 18, is underway, and will start the new season right on time.
• Virginia Walters, for the Peninsula Clarion