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How World Crises Can Wreck Our Normal Routines for Visiting Family

By Elizabeth Letcher March 08, 2020 Family

Yesterday my mother called me. I live in Oklahoma, and she lives in Florida. Our regular routine is this: I fly to Florida in October to celebrate her birthday. She flies to Oklahoma in May to celebrate mine.

Normally, the risks of being in Oklahoma in May are tornado related. Since she and I are both native Okies, tornadoes are no big deal. In fact, when the tornado sirens go off, most Okies, and I mean this literally, go outside to look around.

I have actually stood on my front porch, watched my husband run onto the road to record a funnel cloud forming overhead, and wondered “Must I wear black to my husband’s funeral?” But he didn’t die. He actually got a really great video.

No Visiting This Year

Nevertheless, my mom called to tell me that she isn’t coming to see me, but not because of the tornadoes. As a woman in her 80s with asthma, she doesn’t want to risk being infected by the coronavirus CoVid-19.

I could fly down there, I suggested, but she didn’t want that either. She said that I might unknowingly pick up the virus and bring it to her. This got me thinking about all the things I have brought into her home, over my life, that she didn’t want.

A Mother’s Lot

As a child, I brought home bugs, both actual bugs and stomach bugs. I brought home several stray dogs, and a baby bird that died almost immediately. I brought her school assignments that I couldn’t figure out, usually an hour before bedtime, when they were due the next morning. I brought home head lice.

As a young adult, I brought home dirty laundry, questionable boyfriends, and a bank statement that clearly demonstrated my lack of financial impulse control.

Now that I have grown into mid-life and beyond, I work hard to not bring her things she would not want, and so right now, we will not visit each other.

Are We Over-Reacting?

It looks like CoVid-19 is about as contagious as the seasonal flu. The flu has never stopped Mom from travelling. But then again, she’s always been vaccinated against the flu, and there is no vaccine for CoVid-19.

So, the risk of infection is real. Additionally, it appears that CoVid-19 has about 10 times the fatality rate as the flu, particularly for the elderly. Ouch.

No, We Are Not Over-Reacting

If you are worried about being infected, according to The Guardian, it will help to do these things:

Wash Your Hands Frequently with Soapy Water

When you wash your hands, you need to lather up for at least 20 seconds. That’s enough time to sing one of these gems:

I Will Survive, by Gloria Gaynor

Stayin Alive, by the Bee Gees

 (I can feel it coming) In the Air Tonight, by Phil Collins

Fever, by Peggie Lee

Killing Me Softly, by Roberta Flack

(I just) Died in Your Arms Tonight, by Cutting Crew

See how the list goes from survival to death? Clever, no? Okay, maybe not.

Sneeze and Cough into a Tissue

Throw away the tissues you sneeze and cough into then go wash your hands. If you can’t do that, sneeze or cough into your elbow, like Dracula. The whole time I thought Dracula was trying to be mysterious, when really he was trying to protect other people from his germs. What a great guy.

Call the Doctor

If you think you might be infected, call the doctor, and make sure to include your recent travel history. You don’t need to send your vacation photos. Nobody got time for that.

Stock Your Fridge and Cupboards

Stock up on non-perishable items like canned foods, dry foods, and toilet paper. If you ever wanted an excuse to buy 10 boxes of macaroni and cheese, this is your time. Go for it.

Don’t Touch Your Face

Don’t touch your face is a good piece of advice. But do you know how hard it is to do? Here’s a test. Go out to the garage and get that cone that you use on the dog. The cone of shame. Put it on.

If you’re like me, in five minutes you will be crazy with frustration and have a strong desire to bark at the neighbor’s cat.

Get Your Flu Shot

If you haven’t already, get your flu shot. It is possible to get both the flu and CoVid-19 at the same time. Yikes.

And if you can, call your mother. In the seventh grade, I had a research paper due. I was given three months to work on it. The Friday before the deadline, I gave my mom a mess of papers and notes. She worked with me all weekend to get it done. Thanks, Mom.

What plans have you had to put on hold because of the flu or other virus epidemics? How did that impact your life and relationships? What solutions have you come up with? Please share with our community!

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The Author

Elizabeth Letcher loves to read books, drink coffee and snuggle with her dog. Before retirement, she spent 30 years working with medical data and computers. Her first book, Successful Aging by the Numbers, a Funny Little Guide to Living a Resilient Life is available on Amazon. You can see other fun stuff at her website https://elizabethletcherauthor.com.

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