My mother was a cautious, eldest, depression-era, rational child of German parents, and she raised us as if we were little soldiers being sent out the door to face potential doom on a daily basis. We were heavily armed and fortified with rules about cleanliness, hand-washing, fire exits at home and elsewhere, and protection of our private and personal spaces. If we went to a location that was new to us, we were urged to craft a list of what to do if everything around us went very, very bad in a matter of seconds. My father was an insurance adjuster – German as well – and cautioned us about falling from ladders, the danger of trampolines, and how to avoid drowning. He also thoughtfully allowed us to view graphic car accident pictures, which produced three cautious drivers and nightmares for weeks.
In other words, we were raised for the COVID Pandemic. I mentioned this to my sisters, calmly sequestered in Rancho Mirage, and they agreed. Not only were we raised for times like these, we came to expect them, and have always operated most efficiently in the worst of circumstances, laughing at our predicaments, even heart attacks. That would be me. I still had a humor column at the time, and within a week had written an article about it that made people feel guilty when they laughed out loud, one which was eventually read by cardiac interns on rotation at the University of Washington Medical Center. And I didn’t even have the heart attack there. I had it two thousand miles from home.
So for the three us, there’s always been an emergency right around the corner, and bad stuff doesn’t come as a surprise. As the Catholic grade school nuns and Annie Lennox told us, “Every one of us is made to suffer.”
And this, too, shall pass.
May 5, 2020