278 “Patience”

By Hetty Gray

# 278


Today my generation sees the picture a bit differently from those in their 50s and below. Our parents and grandparents grew up on the stories of World War I. The most glaring memories are of the Spanish flu (yes, named for the country in which it began) of 1918.

Some of you readers have a cursory knowledge of this through a particularly poignant episode of Great Britain’s “Downtown Abbey” series on PBS. Matthew Crawley brought his fiancée to the country home of the Lord and Lady Grantham in order to introduce her to his extended family to which he had only been linked since the heir to the estate had died on the Titanic.

This vicious flu had an afterlife. It came in three waves, and the third took the most devastating toll on the world.

Like COVID-19, the disease claimed lives across the economic spectrum. Today, America faces a ruthless, unforgiving enemy that will impact families across all social lines. Sadly, the most vulnerable are our elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

Thankfully, it does not replicate the Spanish flu in terms of fatalities. In contrast, its mortality was high in people younger than 5 years old, 20-40 years old, and 65 years and older.

The Spanish flu, was the deadliest epidemic in world history. An estimated 500 million worldwide were infected, and the death toll was anywhere from between 20 to 100 million.

Granted, medical science has come a long way. Communication is light years from the Morse Code and newspapers of 1918. Yet, to get through this, Americans need to pay attention. The big question is, “Will we?”

Washington State has been hit with real force. It is interesting that 40 of the 64 deaths came from one nursing home. While awful for the families affected, it shines a light on how one location can be central to the spread.

It is hard to extrapolate how many people were exposed with no knowledge as the disease began to claim its victims. Of note, is one of our friends, a Nurse Practitioner on the peninsula that juts forth within view of British Columbia. Her does home visitations for a major health care provider. Clearly at risk, she takes all possible care as she takes care of those who depend on her.

We recognize the risk for all our health care providers. However, we need to realize that they are not alone on the front lines. Law enforcement, fire personnel and EMTs are out there every hour of every day. They need our support, and — yes — our prayers.

Anyone who regards COVID-19 as trivial, overblown, or someone else’s problem need to stop and take stock of the situation. If they go ahead in cavalier fashion, they are deluding themselves and not paying attention to history. Not merely a litany of names, dates, places and events, history is our ultimate teacher — a teacher without bias, a teacher giving the real facts.

We “need to heed.” Far too many times, many of the younger generation operate with another attitude. I fear that the current posture among far too many millennials is more “greed over need.” It is time to step back and take a hard look at what is truly important — life, not lifestyle.

This is not a repetitive column. One stark fact looms. Echoing the column title, it is best for Americans to have patience, not be patients.

Don’t just think about it. Do what you must do, not what you think you can get away with.

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