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(9,895 posts)
Wed Apr 1, 2020, 02:31 PM Apr 2020

Had a long conversation with my dad last night...

He is 77 years old and in relatively good health compared to my mother, who at 75 has been a 6 time cancer survivor over the past 17 years. They are traveling / fleeing Florida to return to our family home in Indiana off of Lake Michigan. They are literally going from the frying pan in Florida to the fire between Detroit on the east and Chicago on the west and running the gauntlet of FL, GA, TN, KY and IN to get there.

My mom is too scared to stay in Florida. She is having panic attacks and despite near total social isolation since February, she is convinced she is going to die from this and doesn't want to do so away from 'home'. My sister and I begged them to stay put, to not take the risk of travelling cross-country at this time...but they would not be dissuaded. They're on the road now and we're terrified for them...I hope they manage to pull this off, but I fear I will lose them both this year because of their insistence and Trump's malfeasance.

What got me and dad to taking though was Dr. Jonas Salk and the release of the polio vaccine in 1955-1957. Like all children of that era, my mom and dad grew up in constant fear of contracting polio. It terrified my grandmother constantly that my dad would come down with polio, to the point that it gave her nightmares whenever a local case was reported.

That terror, for YEARS and DECADES, of living in fear of a virus was what he was thinking about now. He vividly described the relief that not only he and his friends felt when the vaccine was released and then perfected, but also the relief it brought to my grandmother. We lost grandma 3 years ago this June at the age of 96, although dementia and other maladies had really taken her from us much sooner. But I could not help but be moved to tears talking with my father about his mother and the relief that a vaccine had brought to them so many years ago.

I am scared to lose dad and mom, even though I know that there are fewer days ahead for me to be able to share with them then there are days in the rear-view mirror now...but it filled me with love and despite my fears and the current situation and the darkness all around us, it also reminded me to stop and appreciate the things I still have access to now - my parents, even at advancing ages; my family, my wife and my siblings.

Closing this rambling missive, all I can say is that we all can benefit from introspection and reaching out to loved ones now more than ever...remembering times long past, reliefs and triumphs, anxieties and comforts...is what makes life have meaning for us all.

Be safe. Be well. And remember to tell those you love that they matter to you and that their contributions to your life are cherished memories too. We may not have the chance 'later' and this tragedy is at least a reminder to never pass up the chances we do have...ever.

32 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
Highlight: NoneDon't highlight anything 5 newestHighlight 5 most recent replies
Had a long conversation with my dad last night... (Original Post) Moostache Apr 2020 OP
Lovely post leftieNanner Apr 2020 #1
Thank you so much... Moostache Apr 2020 #3
Have to let that feeling go. Accept that you are powerless over some things and it is easier. Bernardo de La Paz Apr 2020 #20
I hope they are going to be ok. drray23 Apr 2020 #2
Thanks...they are in a car, but they must make frequent stops Moostache Apr 2020 #4
Traffic should not be too bad Scarsdale Apr 2020 #31
At their age I'd be scared to have them driving clear procon Apr 2020 #5
We tried to get them to do anything but drive to no avail... Moostache Apr 2020 #9
My dad was just like that too, and now that I'm of that procon Apr 2020 #11
One Day Following RobinA Apr 2020 #28
Hugs to you and yours... Sunriser13 Apr 2020 #6
Yeah having a sense of community, even in isolation, is going to get us through this. Initech Apr 2020 #7
But the Repubicans as a virus will still all be here. :( woodsprite Apr 2020 #21
Yes, that is a good point. Initech Apr 2020 #23
Excellent post DenverJared Apr 2020 #8
Simliar worries here, 30+ extended family over 60 scattered in at least 10 states. Brainfodder Apr 2020 #10
My heart goes out to you. Mickju Apr 2020 #12
I remember the long lines as you waited for your vaccine in the evenings... Dan Apr 2020 #13
Yes I rememberer the long lines too, and my friend crying.. Stellar Apr 2020 #14
Thank you for a beautiful and moving post. NNadir Apr 2020 #15
Thanks for sharing. Stay strong. Let us know when your parents get to Indiana. iluvtennis Apr 2020 #16
As I told many of my patient's family members TNNurse Apr 2020 #17
Nice post - thoughtful and sensitive packman Apr 2020 #18
May God bless you and your folks. spudspud Apr 2020 #19
I am 78 and my wife is 77. We both have pre-conditions. Hangingon Apr 2020 #22
Thank you for sharing. Godspeed to your parents for their safe journey back home. CountMyVote4Reality Apr 2020 #24
A few similarities leighbythesea2 Apr 2020 #25
Godspeed to parents! Anon-C Apr 2020 #26
Such a beautiful essay, I am saving! BlancheSplanchnik Apr 2020 #27
One of the best posts I've read on DU recently. coti Apr 2020 #29
Have they made it back yet? treefarmers Apr 2020 #30
Thank you all for the replies, thoughts and well wishes... Moostache Apr 2020 #32


(15,051 posts)
1. Lovely post
Wed Apr 1, 2020, 02:43 PM
Apr 2020

We do need to appreciate what we have now. I've been cleaning my Mom's glass collection and cabinet this morning. It tends to get dusty. She and my Dad died 12 years ago last month and it's been a joy to think of them as I washed and dried each piece.

I remember my Mom driving my sister and me down to the local grammar school for our polio vaccines, and the relief she felt.

It's difficult to go from day to day with this stress and fear upon us every minute. I will send good vibes to your folks that they arrive safely back home.


(9,895 posts)
3. Thank you so much...
Wed Apr 1, 2020, 02:45 PM
Apr 2020

Its out of my hands now, and that feeling of powerlessness is overwhelming at times...I think that was why the discussion with my dad about the Salk vaccine made such an impression on me...its a conversation I'll never forget because of the way he conveyed that relief to me and how I can so vividly relate to it now...

One day, this too shall pass. Until then, I hope the future finds you well and protected!

Bernardo de La Paz

(48,925 posts)
20. Have to let that feeling go. Accept that you are powerless over some things and it is easier.
Wed Apr 1, 2020, 04:44 PM
Apr 2020

If you are doing the things that you can control or affect, then it is easier to let the powerless things go. You don't have to be active that instant, but if you have plans in motion or a routine or are planning, then you can accept powerlessness over some things more easily.

It's not easy, initially, but the more you practice it the easier it becomes.

Don't fight it in your mind. That is what makes the feeling of powerlessness overwhelming. Metaphorically in you mind open windows and let the breeze gently blow it away. When it comes back, as it will, say to yourself "oh, you again", and let it go. Then get back to either relaxing or doing or studying (the virus or something else you are interested in for the future). Being forward-looking helps.

Do what you can, accept what you can't do, and seek the wisdom to tell the two apart.


(7,615 posts)
2. I hope they are going to be ok.
Wed Apr 1, 2020, 02:44 PM
Apr 2020

I sincerely hope your parents are going to be ok. I lost my father to cancer 3 years ago. My mother is 79 yr old and living at home by herself (in France). She is in good health and took it seriously. She has weeks of food and other necessities stashed. Nevertheless I speak with her almost daily. My brother is in the outskirts of Paris doing the same with his family. If needed, he can drive down to my mother's place in 4 hours or so..

Speaking of that, if your parents are traveling in a car, its likely there are going to be safe. After all, they dont have to get in contact with anybody, just drive and stop for refueling carefully..


(9,895 posts)
4. Thanks...they are in a car, but they must make frequent stops
Wed Apr 1, 2020, 02:49 PM
Apr 2020

My mother has other health challenges that arise from her battles over the years with cancer, including a very pressing need to use the bathroom, which they are trying to avoid as much as possible with the options that are available...

They are trying to eat sandwiches in the car from a cooler they stocked before leaving, but its going to be 3 days of travel and then at least 14 days or more of being extremely nervous...

Thanks for the reply...it is therapy for me to be able to discuss it, even it is emotional and really hitting like a freight train...


(9,426 posts)
31. Traffic should not be too bad
Thu Apr 2, 2020, 03:50 PM
Apr 2020

right now, so there is that. Sounds as though they have made plans for themselves to travel safely. I really don't blame them for wanting to get home to be close to family right now. Please keep us posted, and let us know when they arrive.


(15,805 posts)
5. At their age I'd be scared to have them driving clear
Wed Apr 1, 2020, 02:50 PM
Apr 2020

across the country by themselves. Why didn't they fly home if they are that determined to go? Even if they were concerned about coming into contact with strangers, it would be over in a couple of hours.

Certainly it would be better than stopping in route for gas and food every day with people all around at roadside places that have no safety guidelines in effect. So many things could happen. The suspense would drive me mad.

Good luck to you all.


(9,895 posts)
9. We tried to get them to do anything but drive to no avail...
Wed Apr 1, 2020, 02:54 PM
Apr 2020

In a small way, that attitude of soldiering through and trying to make the best outcome from a truly bad list of choices is how I remember them raising me...and my father's stubbornness is legendary.

I appreciate the thoughts and may need a couple extra drinks over the next fortnight plus...


(15,805 posts)
11. My dad was just like that too, and now that I'm of that
Wed Apr 1, 2020, 03:03 PM
Apr 2020

age, I truly understand that the "stubborn old folks" title didn't fall far from the tree. (sigh)


(9,884 posts)
28. One Day Following
Thu Apr 2, 2020, 12:18 PM
Apr 2020

an ice storm I went to visit my Grandparents at their house. It became obvious that there was a disagreement in progress. My Grandfather had a greenhouse attached to the side of the house. Metal frame, glass panes. In the ice storm, the electric service had come off the side of the house and was lying on the greenhouse. The electricity was still flowing and there appeared to be no immediate problem. It was dark out. My Grandfather was in the process of getting ready to go out into the ice-covered world, get on top of the greenhouse, and reattach the service to the house. My Grandmother was strenuously objecting. They were probably in there late '70's at this time.

The thing that makes my Grandfather less crazy than he immediately seems here is that for many years he was a telephone lineman. He was used to heights, live wires, and nonexistent footing. He didn't get to the top of a pole in a bucket attached to a truck, he climbed the pole and made himself comfortable at the top attached by a belt. Carrying tools. I was, of course, not happy with the thought of him doing what he planned to do. It seemed an avoidable way to die and I was tempted to chime in on my grandmother's side. But as I listened to their argument I realized there was more going on than whether or not the service got attached to the house that night. They were both fighting for my Grandfather's life, but in completely different ways. I left them to it, but with some peace with however it would turn out. They let us go at some point when we were young, probably with their hearts in their mouths, hoping we would live to tell the tale. At some point when life is moving in the opposite direction, we should probably let them go. They aren't growing anymore like we were, but they are making their own choices and using their autonomy to be who they are. Just like they wished for us, we hope they live to tell the tale. If they do not, they died being who they were. There are worse things than thta.


(100,013 posts)
7. Yeah having a sense of community, even in isolation, is going to get us through this.
Wed Apr 1, 2020, 02:51 PM
Apr 2020

I keep thinking there will be better times ahead, once we rid the world of this wretched virus. But we just have to take it one day at a time.


(6,423 posts)
10. Simliar worries here, 30+ extended family over 60 scattered in at least 10 states.
Wed Apr 1, 2020, 03:03 PM
Apr 2020

My more experienced father is in a FL Senior Community, the normal wing for now.

They have been in lock-down a month, they can go and walk around for exercise and do, and they have staff check them once a week, and any food, knock, drop and disappear is how staff there is handling it.

Not in THE VILLAGES, that was hilarious to find out about! [STD capital of the U.S.]

Good luck to you and yours!


(1,796 posts)
12. My heart goes out to you.
Wed Apr 1, 2020, 03:25 PM
Apr 2020

I’m 76 with health issues and I’m scared too. I lived through the polio scare and it was horrific for me and my parents. I can sympathize with you and your parents.


(3,536 posts)
13. I remember the long lines as you waited for your vaccine in the evenings...
Wed Apr 1, 2020, 03:32 PM
Apr 2020

The big different was that the polio vaccine was free.... Under Trump and his buddies that control our government today - I am sure that a vaccine for the Coronavirus will cost an arm & leg if one is developed during his administration. Moscow Mitch and the GOP don't believe in government by the people for the people.


(33,449 posts)
15. Thank you for a beautiful and moving post.
Wed Apr 1, 2020, 04:28 PM
Apr 2020

In these times, it's important to feel how much you love your family, and you expressed it quite well.

My mother-in-law, one of the last people in the United States to contract polio died last spring.

It's one reason that I feel so much contempt for anti-vaxxers, because my mother-in-law really suffered over the years.

I am just old enough to remember the rush to inoculate children for this terrible disease.


(6,924 posts)
17. As I told many of my patient's family members
Wed Apr 1, 2020, 04:30 PM
Apr 2020

and also friends and family, 'You must understand that you can only do so much". You will always know that you tried but they were going to do what they believe they have to do.

I once took care of an elderly (80s) gentleman who had fallen out of the top of his barn and broken his neck. He was not paralyzed. We figured out that the daughter was worried what we thought of her. She apparently thought that we thought she could have prevented this accident. I asked her if he climbed up there by himself and also if she usually kept him locked in the house so he could not get out. She laughed and agreed that he climbed up there on his own. I responded that since she had not pushed him up the ladder, I am not sure she could have done anything to prevent it.

We do what we can.



(16,296 posts)
18. Nice post - thoughtful and sensitive
Wed Apr 1, 2020, 04:41 PM
Apr 2020

I well remember the polio days when summer meant the polio season started. Pools, lakes and anything having to do with water recreation was banned (people believed, at least in our part of SW Pennsylvania) that polio was spread thru water contact. Salk should be an example of what a scientist and humanist is.


(511 posts)
19. May God bless you and your folks.
Wed Apr 1, 2020, 04:44 PM
Apr 2020

I'll pray that they make the journey up to you safely. I've got elderly parents down here in Florida as well, and it was difficult to get my Dad, who is a news junkie, to stay the hell home (he loves running to the grocery store).


(3,071 posts)
22. I am 78 and my wife is 77. We both have pre-conditions.
Wed Apr 1, 2020, 05:13 PM
Apr 2020

Week before last we drove from the Texas coast 850 miles to Missouri. We stopped for one night and bought gas once. All food was fast food in the car or hotel room. Lots of Winter Texans we’re leaving early - April 1st is the norm. It was not bad. Be sure to take Clorox wipes or te equivalent and clean your hands, the steering wheel, shifter and other controls. Traffic was good. Lots of semis and RVs but fewer cars. We made good time.

24. Thank you for sharing. Godspeed to your parents for their safe journey back home.
Wed Apr 1, 2020, 05:35 PM
Apr 2020

I’m sure your parents have weighed the pros and cons and are resolved to be back in the comforts of their home. Likewise, I trust they’ve prepared for the journey and will take all precautions along the way. Florida is so behind the curve and is about to blow up, so it’s best that they leave sooner than later. I wish them well. Please, keep us posted.


(1,200 posts)
25. A few similarities
Wed Apr 1, 2020, 05:36 PM
Apr 2020

I think they will make it back ok if they are cautious. My best friend is a frontline hc worker. As is her twin and other sister.
Their dad and step mom were on vacation in Florida. She pleaded with them to get out and come back to Michigan. 2 weeks or 10 days ago.
The stepmom was being treated for cancer, albeit with an oral med, the worst treatment behind her. They somehow were not understanding the gravity of their situation. So while my friend also had anxiety about traveling between fla and Michigan, she felt sure having family home with support nearby was critical. I hope your family makes it back safely and can rest a bit easier.

Second, my mom had polio as a child. Age 9. 1 year in a hospital. It affected her arms and shoulders. There are many things she cannot do. Relies on her lower body to compensate. But she never took disability. Not even a handicap sticker for parking. I didnt even understand she was handicapped until age 10. Never complained, or even talked about it. Like some kind of toughness in that generation beyond my understanding.

Fast forward she now has Alzheimer's and i am her caregiver. She lives with me. The compensations she made with her mind before she cant now.

Yeah, im terrified some days. My single goal is to keep her healthy. She did everything for me. So im committed to every measure, as we all are here.

I read Alabama saying sonething about those with significant intellectual impairment and those with dementia moderate to advanced may not be good ventilator candidates. A quote to that effect.

How enraging.

To have gone thru polio, to never take help, to work her whole life and pay in, to be a life long democrat who taught me you share, so the most vulnerable among us have help---- and to end up with dementia---so someone can decide you dont get to live in a pandemic?

F-ck the south, or at least those states not being proactive.

I lived in Florida twice. Glad im not there. Glad my mother is not there. Glad your family is not there. I pray for those i know there.
Your post was eloquent and thoughtful and a reminder to be grateful. Be safe.


(9,895 posts)
32. Thank you all for the replies, thoughts and well wishes...
Fri Apr 3, 2020, 03:08 PM
Apr 2020

My parents are in the final leg of their trip and have made it through to far...now comes the excruciating part, the 14-21 days to wait and see that no exposure to COVID-19 happened along the way.

I appreciate the thoughts and wishes more than anyone can know, so thank you all from the bottom of my heart. WE are all experiencing something unique in human history and we're doing it together-apart both in real life and online. Having this ability - to communicate and share with everyone at DU - has been a godsend for me as this ordeal of the pandemic and coping/mitigating drags on from days to weeks and soon to months...

I will try to pop in and update mom and dad as we go...the first leg is almost done - getting from A to B...now the waiting and hoping is all that I can do!

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