I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m getting pretty bored sitting around the house. Yeah, there have been things to do, I’ve been working on school stuff, talking to my friends online, playing games, taking the dogs out in the yard to play. But, it would be really, really nice to get to go somewhere and do something. Mom has been complaining about the same thing and today she needed to go to the bank. She asked me if I would like to go along with her and I said sure!
I got dressed and made sure I had on my mask!
Fortunately, since we were in the car the whole time, I didn’t really need it, but mom said it never hurts to have it along, just in case. Better safe than sorry. Make sure you wash your mask out periodically to prevent germs and bacteria from accumulating as well. Masks save lives!
I also brought my camera along in case I wanted to take some pictures. Unfortunately the blossoms on the trees were killed off when we got an unexpected cold snap and snow. Darn!
After we were done at the bank, mom decided that we needed a special treat. She was dying for a coffee from Starbucks, so that’s where we headed! It was super busy, I was surprised at how long we had to wait in line, but it was really worth it. Mom got a salted caramel latte and I got a hot chocolate. Mmmm!!!
Mom suggested we take a ride to the park not far from home. She told me that we wouldn’t be able to do much there other than ride around, or if we wanted to walk. I told her I was okay with just sitting in the car and enjoying the sights.
As we drove around the park, we saw people walking their pets, jogging and just getting out for some exercise. But it was pretty empty. While we drove around, mom and I had a very interesting chat and I took some pictures.
“Mom, there’s a new picnic table where Fiona and I had our picnic last summer! Will we be able to have picnics again?”
“Mom, will we ever be able to play on the playground equipment again?”
“There’s the big stage! Will we ever get to see concerts in the park again?”
“Mom, there’s the gazebo where you and your friends from the ukulele club played last spring for International Make Music Day. Do you think you’ll get to do that again this year?”
“I’m not sure it will be this year, but someday.”
“Oh, there’s the tennis courts where Kit and I played last summer! Will we ever get to play tennis again?”
“Yes Mimi, someday!”
After we were done at the park, we decided to drive through town. We drove past the gaming store I love to go to, the place where mom goes and plays for open mic night and the German club where we go to eat sometimes, they have awesome food.
“Mom, will we ever get to go to these places again?”
“Yes, we will someday.”
“Someday seems like forever mom. It’s been over a month since we’ve been able to do anything.”
“I know Mimi. But we have to do this because it could save people’s lives.”
“Yes, Mimi. The problem is, this virus, well…not a whole lot is known about it. Doctors and scientists don’t know exactly how it’s going to act as time progresses. We can hope it’s going to die off, but the truth is we don’t really know. It seems as though it can affect anyone, any age. It seems to be worse for people with certain health problems and the elderly, but it isn’t making just those people sick. It’s making people of all ages sick, and that’s the problem. And people are dying.”
“Oh wow mom, that’s awful!”
“Yes, and remember how awful it was when your Uncle Jake died a few years ago after a short illness?”
“Yes, that was really bad.”
“Well, we don’t want anyone to have to go through that if they don’t have to. What your uncle Jake had, there was no way to prevent him from getting sicker and dying. But with Covid19, we do have ways we can help. To keep people from getting sick, we have to wear masks, practice social distancing and all of the other stuff we are doing now. We don’t want the hospitals to become too full of sick people at one time because if they do, some people might not get the care that they need. There are way more people in the world than there are hospital beds and lifesaving equipment! If we keep doing this, we might not only keep people from getting sick all at once, we might keep them from getting sick at all. The virus could die out. But in the meantime, they are also trying to find ways to treat it. Or a vaccine for it. Right now we don’t have a vaccine, so that means anyone could get it.”
“What’s a vaccine mom?”
“It’s a shot you get at the doctors office. It helps your body build up a resistance to whatever the illness is so you won’t get it. Remember how you asked me about that mark I have on my arm?”
“Well, when I was a kid, you couldn’t start school without a smallpox vaccine. Smallpox used to be a very deadly disease and for many years, lots and lots of people died from it. Then someone discovered a way to keep people from getting it. Every kid had to get a smallpox vaccine before they were allowed to go to school. That mark on the arm is from where you developed a scab that left a scar where they injected you. And then you had an immunity which meant you couldn’t get that disease. After doing that for many many years, they eventually got rid of smallpox. That doesn’t usually happen, there are usually still people who can get some of the diseases, even with vaccines, but it helps reduce the numbers of those who do get it, so our medical system is better able to help those that do so they don’t die. When I had the flu a few years ago and ended up in the hospital, I was the only person sick in that hospital with it at the time and the hospital wasn’t full, so I was able to get the best care possible.”
“So, why do we wear masks? Some of my friends and their families think it’s stupid.”
“Well, the masks aren’t stupid. The reason for wearing them is because you can be sick and not realize it. You can have the virus in your system for a while before you ever show any signs that you are sick! So you could be out spreading them around and not even know you are. And some people will have no symptoms at all, they won’t feel sick ever. But others could end up very sick. That’s one of the problems with this virus, you can have a whole bunch of people get it but no two people will end up being sick to the same degree. Wearing a mask helps reduce the spread of germs if you are sick. The germs are in your saliva and when you talk, cough or sneeze, you could spread it around. Wearing a mask doesn’t protect you, but it keeps you from possibly spreading germs to others. If we all wear masks that reduces the chance that we could end up sharing the virus with each other. Does that make more sense?”
“Yes, it does. I worry about my friends though. Some of them are worried about getting sick and some of them are worried about not having food to eat or even about not having any place to live if this goes on for very long because their parents aren’t able to work. Their families don’t have any money now or are close to running out.”
“Yeah Mimi, that is a big problem right now. Hopefully everything will start to fall into place. But we can’t rush things. Because we don’t know enough about this disease, we have to be very careful. And what some people don’t seem to realize that if too many people die, it will be worse for our economy. It’s pretty complicated, but an easy way to put it is if people die, they obviously aren’t able to work, so then families have no money that way too. Or they aren’t able to buy things because they aren’t around anymore, which hurts businesses if too many people die. Only it’s permanent. When your uncle Jake died, your aunt Louise was very lucky because he had life insurance and they had money saved that she could live on. Not everyone has that, so if someone dies, it can mean financial problems for their family. Not to mention how sad they would be if a family member died.”
“I didn’t think of that!”
“Like I said, it’s really complicated. However, there is always hope that things will be back to normal soon. Most people will get to go back to their jobs at some point. Back in the 1980’s, this area was hit with record unemployment, as bad as it is right now. A number of things contributed and it was rough all across the country. This area though, it was really bad because all of our mills were closed down permanently, so a lot of people ended up losing their jobs. It took quite a while, but eventually business around here bounced back. Unfortunately some people had to move out of the area to find better job opportunities, but everyone was okay. And still alive.”
“I remember you teaching me about that. And I remember you showing me where there used to be a big steel mill here and now it’s just open land.”
“Yes, it was huge. It was probably the biggest employer in our county at one time. So you can imagine how hard it was for people looking for jobs. Another thing too are natural disasters. You remember me telling you about my friend Shannon in Louisiana?”
“Oh yeah, she was the one that lived there when they had the big hurricane!”
“Yes Mimi, Hurricane Katrina. Their house was severely damaged during that and they couldn’t live in it for months. Her family lived in a tiny trailer, kind of like the camper Uncle Jake used to have. It was her, her husband and their two sons. For at least six months! And they had no jobs, no school or anything for all that time. Lots and lots of people were in that same situation. But they made it through okay. They are still there.”
“I guess I never thought about that. It makes it a little bit more real when you tell me about people we know who have bad stuff like this happen. I’m starting to understand that we have to make the best of the situation now.”
“We are going to take a little ride out of the way before we go back to the house Mimi. I have something I think you need to see and learn about, you are old enough now to understand it a bit better.”
“You know where we are Mimi?”
“Yeah, we are in Wheatland, just down over the hill from our house.”
“You see that memorial over there that looks like a big tombstone.”
“Yes, mom. It’s all by itself though. Is someone buried there?”
“No, Mimi. It’s there in memory of all of the people who lost their lives in this area in 1985 due to a large tornado.”
“Yes. It was really bad. Remember how we were recently talking about tornadoes for our science lessons and how they rate different tornadoes according to wind speeds and such?”
“Yeah, it was really interesting! How an EF1 is the lowest rating because it’s the slowest as far as wind speed and an EF5 is the highest and can do the most damage because of the wind speed!”
“Well, in May of 1985 a whole series of tornadoes came through this part of Pennsylvania and Ohio and an EF 5 came through this very area where we are at right now. It’s the only EF5 to EVER be recorded in the history of Pennsylvania. It wiped out everything in this area for the most part. All of the houses, the businesses…everything. People lost their homes and everything they owned. When we get home, I’ll get out the newspaper I have from after it, it has all sorts of photos in it. When your grandma passed away, I found it in her stuff and I made sure to keep it because it’s a very important part of local history.”
“WOW! That’s awful. Was anyone killed?”
“Yes, there were quite a few people in Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio killed because of that whole storm system. Whole communities were wiped out. Electricity was knocked out in many areas, no telephone service, a number of places you couldn’t get through because of the debris. It was a really big mess and it took a long time to get it cleaned up and for things to get back to normal.”
“That is so sad. I would love to see that newspaper. It sounds very interesting.”
“Maybe we can use this as part of your history and science classes along with what you are already learning.”
“That would be great mom!”
“But there is one thing I want you to learn from this and why I brought you here. It is to teach you that life is very precious. You never know what might happen from one day to the next. But no matter what, your life and your health are the most important gift you will ever have. Don’t ever forget that. You can bounce back from a lot of things, just like the people who lost their homes and their jobs and all of their belongings from the tornadoes. We will all get through this and it might not be easy for some, but we will be okay eventually. But losing your good health, or having someone that you care about get sick and die…those are things you can never get back. While we can’t control tornadoes or hurricanes or even viruses, this is one situation where we can actually do SOMETHING that will help save lives. It may not be much fun and some people will have financial struggles because of all of this, but it has to be done.”
“I understand mom. We are doing what we are doing now, not just for us, but for everyone. So that everyone stays healthy. And alive.”
Hoping that all of my readers and friends are safe and healthy at this time. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay home. These are tough times for everyone, but we will get through it!