My friend and fellow bridge player, Jean Lewis, is leaving town, moving off to Augusta to live near her children. Saturday I was at her house loading books into my trunk - books she hauled down from her second floor and gave to me - wonderful books like Don’t bend over in the garden, Granny - You know them taters got eyes and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Larry and I were excitedly looking through them yesterday and picked up an old one called The Horse and Buggy Doctor by Arthur Hertzler, M.D. It was published in 1938 by Harper Brothers. The first line reads: “Protect us, O God, from diphtheria!” The doctor reports to his wife that eight of nine children in one family have died from the disease - all except the youngest girl. Afterwards, the mother carries her around on her hip every minute of the day and sleeps curled around the child at night as though physically protecting her from the horrific disease. The reign of terror of Diphtheria during a pandemic made people turn to a higher power for help. Individually, people cried out to God. Churches prayed daily for relief. Whole communities got together for prayer because no vaccines for that dreaded disease existed at that point. In those days it never occurred to suffering parents of dead children to turn to medicine or the government. They turned to God.
What Jean did by giving me those books was give me a slice of life back in the earlier part of the twentieth century and the ability to answer the question, “Did you ever see anything like this COVID-19 before?” I never saw it; I’m not quite that old, but I’m reading this doctor’s account of the horrors or Diphtheria on rampage. I’m reading it slowly because it’s painful reading. The words in that book hurt my heart just as COVID stories hurt today.
COVID follows no rules. The experts say that younger people practically never die from it; it’s a killer of old people. Why then did my 43-year-old friend die last week after being on a ventilator for a month? Forty-three years on this planet shouldn’t be a lifetime. Her children need their mother, but she’s gone. Larry and I survived, and we’re much older than 43. Thank God, we survived. We hear of people in their 80s and 90s surviving all the time. Maybe the rules don’t make any sense. Maybe the experts aren’t . . . so expert, that is.
COVID is rampaging from sea to shining sea just as Diphtheria did in the 30s and 40s. As the weather cools, the cases of COVID increase. I’m so tired of being its victim, just as you readers are. I don’t want to wear a mask or stay locked in my house. Give us relief, Lord. Hear Your people. Heal this sickness in our land.
If the virus were the only illness in these United States of America, perhaps we could work together to vanquish it, but a worse sickness infects our government. Lies drop from politicians’ lips like sweet red wine and we accept them as “just politics.” Greed overpowers all compassion, as politicians fight each other for power, never once thinking about the people they supposedly represent. The suffering of the masses is a minor thing in the power struggle. Has anyone else noticed that we send poor politicians to Washington and while they’re there, they become rich - filthy rich with homes all over the country - summer homes, winter homes, the main home, and vacation homes. How does that happen? Even on the hefty salaries that congressmen receive (notice I did not say earn), they couldn’t afford all those houses.
The big election is only a few days away. If we care at all, and surely we do, then we must vote. Apathy is worse than greed and lying, in my opinion. We’ve reached the stage in politics that when we march down to do our duty in the voting booth, we carefully choose the lesser of the two evils. How very low have we sunk as a nation. Nonetheless, do go vote and think carefully before you choose the lesser of the two. It’s so important.
Please forgive my descent into the darker side tonight. Next week I’ll write about my dogs romping in this cool weather. You can reach me if you choose at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.