It’s Monday and I’m flying home from Phoenix
A friend with a recent kidney transplant and before that 5 years of dialysis
Gifted me a fistful — neatly folded — of Clorox bleach wipes
I wiped down the tray latch, the tray — front, back, and sides,
The seatbelt buckle, and armrests
Serious times calling for serious measures
I visited my soon-to-be 100 year old Mom
We’re planning her 100th birthday, ordering deli trays,
Shopping at Marshall’s for new party girl clothes
There’ll be three days of celebration so we got four tops
She says her pants are ok, no need for new ones
Mom in one of her new tops, Mom at Marshall’s, Mom and Maria @ Bananagram
She plays bingo everyday and an after dinner game of banana gram
She’s still smart as shit,
Which doesn’t mean her memory and word-finding abilities aren’t slipping
In bananagram; she still wins.
In talking and story-telling; it’s frustrating for her, also humbling
She totally gets that the gig is almost up (though it could go on for a few more years)
That when you’re one hundred, you don’t need a terminal diagnosis
Her good friend Mardell, 2 years younger than her died a few weeks ago
Unexpectedly, though again, when you’re 98, you don’t need a terminal diagnosis
Mardell was smart and nice and serious, less given to gossip
She’d once been a colonel I think in the military
Being an anti-militarist myself, I never held that against her.
I never knew her before she was ninety.
People’s lives are complicated; Mardell and I liked each other.
Mom’s already lost so many people, but losing Mardell was a hard one
During our visit, Mom had a persistent cough, not pneumonia or anything,
She’s breathing ok. Doesn’t feel sick. Looks great.
At the dining hall table with Mom’s friends last night
everyone was talking about what if they were quarantined in their rooms.
It would be so devastating.
I don’t know why Mom’s coughing but I’m pretty sure
It’s not contagious, not that I didn’t wince when she didn’t cover her mouth
She tried, but sometimes I guess the cough just felt like an out breath to her.
Sometimes I scolded her; sometimes I didn’t.
On the plane today flying back to San Francisco
I heard every sneeze and cough near me like a flashing red light
I alternated “ugh” with feelings of compassion for them, for me, for all of us
I wondered who on the plane voted for Trump. This guy? That one? Her?
I feel sad for our country. So lost.
Mindlessly endangering the planet. Potential pandemic. Covfefe-19*.
The hyper-alertness I used to reserve for worry about the plane crashing
now partially replaced with listening to and interpreting coughs.
A cold? an allergy? bronchitis? pneumonia? a simple throat-clearing maneuver?
Lethal or benign?
I really don’t want to land and be told that our whole plane is in quarantine
And that we have to sit in the far corner of the SFO tarmac for weeks
until we’re all clear or all dead, because
the Potus doesn’t want the numbers to go up.
ps… the photo of me above is the current state of my chin after a harrowing face plant on the sidewalk a week ago. The bruise is starting to change from deep purple to multi-colored.
*Papancea is a Pali word from the Buddha’s time which means “proliferative thinking”, where one thought leads to the next and before you know it, and without your knowing it, your mind has travelled far and wide, usually in worry and judgements.
Covfefe-19 — I know people have various nicknames for our POTUS. Many have vowed not to even say or write his actual name. Sometimes when people say he acts like a child or a baby, I think, hey that’s not fair to the child or baby. Or if they say he’s a pig, I think also, hey pigs are good. During the recent hullabaloo and ridiculously handled potential pandemic with Covid-19, I decided that I had found my nickname for him. From now on he’s Covfefe-19 to me. Highly contagious, highly dangerous, life-threatening to vulnerable populations.
8 thoughts on “Papancea* on a Plane”
“…he’s Covfefe-19 to me. Highly contagious, highly dangerous, life-threatening to vulnerable populations.” EXCELLENT. Yes Mango Mussolini, Cheeto, Cheeze Whiz, Chump, Man-Baby all appeal but too light (and yes, I stopped using “dog” or “pig” as derogatory labels. DEADLY for sure. This morning I was so alarmed to hear a man with a wife who had returned from Europe with a high fever and cough WENT OFF TO WORK. At best, our best habits of behavior do get modeled, and WE AS A NATION are ON EMPTY as far as appropriate behavior modeling!! Very worrisome times on so many, many levels. Stay safe my friend. Caitlin went back to work today after giving birth and being home for 7 months. A new job. My worry for her public transport travels, her exposure to coughs and germs…all feel more shaky than I have ever thought about.
oh, gosh, yes. remember when we had our babies? felt so much more vulnerable and of course your Caitlin and my Anna are STILL and always will be our babies, not to mention your new grandbaby, it’s a fearsome time, with the absolutely worst leader of all time in “charge”. We’re all vulnerable now. xo, g
Welcome home! We’re in the Land of Uncertainty for sure. Trying to decide what’s safe or at least lower risk and factoring in the age thing. . .papancea for sure. I remember when I was on the other side of that “most vulnerable” line…maybe hanging out with 90+year-olds made you feel young in comparison.
Our Monday morning Older Writers group was cancelled by the folks at the library where we meet. I myself, reminding myself of my number (78 years), have decided to do my part in containing community spread and use of public resources by “maintaining social distance” as much as possible. It’s something I can easily do…no job, no one depending on my care, and to keep me connected with others, there’s the phone and computer and fresh-air encounters. Hope this doesn’t last long! Let me know what you’re thinking about Taralings tomorrow.
P.S. I can’t imagine how bad this “word finding” thing will be in 20 years (when I reach your mother’s age). It occurred to me just this morning that the day will come when I will have forgotten more words than I can remember! 🙂
PPS. Your poor face/chin! Sending healing prayers, bows, and elbow bumps. . . ❤
Thx, for the welcome home, Anita! Yes, lots of cancellations happening everywhere. Not planning to cancel the TARA group. We are small, and I’m counting on people to assess if they’re not feeling well, then, not to come. And of course if you or anyone else is feeling extremely vulnerable, then making a decision that works best for each. I know there may come a point where this self quarantine will be required more and more, but I for one cannot see myself completely isolating. For me that feels more life-threatening at this point. But definitely I’m figuring out ways to be more cautious. Much love to you! xo/elbow bump.. And yes, there’ll be no hugging at Tara’s.
Excellent name for he who shall bot be named. I new reference to him is the “defective human” who inhabits egg White House. Comparing him to animals , children or babies is but fair to them. I’m on the side today of trying not to worry. I’m more worried about the economy right now and the fact that we have a defective human in charge. Ugh. Glad you had a nice visit with mom and that you are home safe and sound.
I like your names too. Creativity in the face of disaster is good I think. And worry is “de rigeur” as they used to say. I don’t know anyone who isn’t talking about it… though mostly from the point of view of personal safety and potentional quarantine for everyone, eg Italy. omg. The economy is a whole other level of concern. It’s going to be a wild ride for sure… well, really it already is in the world for millions of people.. the wild ride is finally getting to us, the relatively protected American middle class. Still, we have a 100th birthday party to pull off. Hopefully the Palazzo won’t be in quarantine by then… xoxo, g
Love this from your trip. Hurray for your Mom and you and your siblings. I am 93 (birthday in July) so I am one of the ones they talk about being” vulnerble”. So disapointed not see ing Midsummer with Ballet. My friend and I have had tickets for a while, trying to be grown up about it all, having Trump as President hasn’t helped. Welcome home Gayle.
Dear Ellen, Happy Birthday in advance. At 72, I feel a little vulnerable too, not sure how strong my immune system is, but definitely not what it used to be. So sorry you have to miss the ballet. Some friends and I have tickets for a Sting concert in a week; not sure what will happen to that event, and I have travel plans to Portland at the end of the month, not sure about that either. Between climate crisis, the potus-GOP-FoxNews debacle, and now Covid-19, it seems like we humans are really in for it, though in the shortest term, Covid-19 seems to be having the biggest impact in upending our regular routines. It’s really something. I dread potentially being quarantined. Trying to get ready for that potentiality and wrap my ahead around its meaning for each and everyone of us. Thanks for welcoming me home, Ellen. Much love!