Let’s do this like good poetry: start with the immediate, move to the universal, then bring it back home.
For the first time in several years, I seem to have caught a cold or maybe the flu. Or maybe the Dreaded Coof. Since I don’t have either of the only two distinguishing symptoms – no sudden acute respiratory issues, and sense of taste is as good as it’s ever been – I’m sticking with ‘flu’ on the ancient principle that distinctions that make no difference should be ignored.
My wife and son are also under the weather, although my wife has long been bulletproof as far as minor illnesses go, and so she’s acting as if she’s fine. If she ever really looked and acted sick, I’d be taking her to the emergency room. The son has a bit of asthma, which amplifies the effects of any sort of cold or flu, so he’s a little more out of it.
(Aside: could you imagine anything more tedious than people typing up and detailing their flu symptoms on a blog? For crying out loud, in the distant past of 2 whole years ago, such a one would be regaling anyone he could button hole over by the water cooler, and be avoided if at all possible. Now? It’s an art form. There will probably end up being a Pulitzer category for most epic description of a minor illness. The competition will be stiff.)
Day 3 – today – woke up at the usual time, took the traditional (for me) acetaminophen/ibuprofen + vitamin C and cough drops cocktail, and went back to bed. Now, a few hours later, I’m doing OK, much better than yesterday. Went from ‘eh’ on Monday morning to bouts of shivering in the evening (30 minutes in a hot bathtub works wonders on that). Slept half the day on Tuesday. I’m betting on ‘feeling tired’ as the outcome on Thursday.
Big whoop. I’ve now had two of my 4 living kids get the Coof with about this level of symptoms or less, and dozens of friends and acquaintances. A total of zero deaths and one hospitalization – an 87 year old who made a quick recovery.
I have sympathy for anyone who lost a loved one over the last two years. I don’t know anyone who has lost a reasonably healthy loved one to the Coof – anyone, that is, that they were emotionally and geographically close enough to to know first hand how healthy they were. (This long disclaimer is occasioned by friends who lost a relative living 10,000 miles away. Just no way to tell much of anything about such a situation.) What I don’t have too much sympathy for is people who put mom in a nursing home who then are sure the Coof killed her, who then try to guilt me for not caring. No, nursing homes are where people are warehoused until they die, mostly within 6 to 9 months. At worst, the Coof sped it up a little; more likely, the Coof showed up on the death cert because that way the nursing home gets government money for caring for a Kung Flu patient.
We had a wedding and reception last weekend. Under the soon to be tightened up rules from our self-appointed betters, such gatherings will be forbidden. Cost and benefits are not being weighed here.
(Now for the real TMI.) It should go without saying that such weddings and receptions are the stuff upon which any civilization worth having is built. My wife and I were married in 1987. We raised 5 kids with, essentially, no help from either of our families. I can make excuses for them, but the base reality is that neither family cared enough to make it happen. Both our families of origin are torn apart in various ways – geography, goals, beliefs – and by various hurts both petty and profound.
My wife and I were very aware of this, and decided to do whatever we can to not let it happen to our kids. First, we work together, and stay together. For reasons that I can’t say I understand, our kids have all become best friends for each other. One cute example: younger daughter drove older daughter to her wedding in my convertible, so older daughter insisted on driving younger daughter to her wedding in my car as well. It just seemed like the thing to do to them.
The kids stay in touch with each other constantly; they have made trips, sometimes cross country trips, to visit each other while they were in school. Now, 2 live close to each other, a third is talking about moving closer once he’s done with grad school, and the youngest is with us. And we’re planning to move much closer to both daughters ASAP.
This should be no big deal, it should be something anybody with kids would be hoping to do, anybody with beloved siblings would want. But is it? Instead, a marriage as traditionally understood, where the whole goal is 1) for the spouses to support and sustain each other; and 2) produce and raise children, is laughed off stage, replaced with ‘fulfillment’ or some other seductive ephemera. Over the last 30 years, marriage was first mocked (my wife and I, living in San Francisco, were personally so mocked by gay men) as something only stupid ‘breeders’ did. Then marriage was invaded, then destroyed.
Our little experience of non-support from our families is now the norm. Kids (if any) are expected to leave the nest – and never look back. Not that it would matter – people my age and maybe 10 to 20 years younger seem to be far too self-absorbed to even consider making changes, let alone sacrifices, for kids who probably hardly know them and don’t really like them.
Which brings us back to weddings and receptions, celebrations of exactly those family ties most hated by our current cockroach overlords. Such events held in the cold of winter (even here in California it gets cold-ish) are really good places to catch a cold, the flu, or even – gasp! – the Coof! So – do we stop doing it? Do refuse to live well so that we can ‘live’ wrapped in bubble wrap and terror?
So, I sincerely hope all the other guests are OK, if, indeed, the wedding festivities are where we picked this bug up. (Probably not, right? 2-day incubation seems pretty quick. More likely picked it up earlier in the week? But what do I know?). I, for one, would not have traded the wedding gatherings for any mere safety from a cold or flu – “It’s a dangerous business, walking out one’s front door”.