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.