Mom reports her great-granddaughter's covid-19 test came back negative.
This means Mom can take herself out of self-quarantine, and that she needn't take a test herself, which relieves her mind. She's heard that the test is uncomfortable.
I didn't tell her that a buddy of mine told me that when he took the test it felt like he was having his eyeballs poked out from the inside. And that another friend who has taken the test says it's really simple; you just shove a swab up your nostrils until you hit your brain. "No biggie."
I'd prefer not to take the test unless I have to, and imagine Mom feels the same way. She's relieved about her great-granddaughter (who we'll call Kay Kay, because everyone else does), who was exposed to the virus at her cheer practice, which is something girls do now. Or probably something girls and boys do now. No judgment. It's a sport that evolved from cheerleading and offers the same sort of psychological and physical benefits as other youth sports.
I have to keep reminding myself of this because my initial and uncharitable reaction to hearing that my mother's great-granddaughter (my grand-niece) was exposed to covid-19 via cheer practice. Apparently Kay Kay spent two hours working on stunts with a girl who was later thought to be injected with the covid. Kay Kay is a flyer and the other girl is a base who tosses Kay Kay into the air and catches her.
(I watched a little of the Netflix docu-series "Cheer." We live in a mad world.)
Anyway, Miss Base apparently wasn't feeling well, and sometime after the two-hour toss and catch session grew ill enough that her parents were alarmed, leading them to have their child tested for the virus. She came back positive, which required Kay Kay to be tested. And sent Mom into self-quarantine because, naturally, she'd had contact with Kay Kay and other members of the family who'd been around Kay Kay.
After five business days, Kay Kay's test came back negative. Huzzah. So Mom can go back to work at the law office, where she's the only one on her floor behind a Plexiglas barrier and a locked door.
Some of you might remember that Mom lives in Georgia, the first state to start reopening its economy after shutting down due to the coronavirus pandemic. But Mom's office never really reopened, and most of the attorneys and other staff are working from home. The office policy is basically don't do anything you're not comfortable doing. A few people straggle in each day.
Mom could have worked from home, but it would have required routing the office telephones to her cell phone, and she didn't want to do that (I don't blame her). So until she was required to self-quarantine, she's been coming in every day. She also makes an occasional trip to the grocery store or Walmart, but other than that she's been staying home. She has food delivered, she hasn't had her hair or nails done. She limits contact with her neighbors; she mostly waves at them. She has stopped going to church, which is a big deal for her. The only people she's been seeing are family, but when I start thinking about that I get a little nervous.
My sister and her husband visit her almost every day, and on weekends they come over to work in my mom's yard, to cut her grass and help her tend plants. (They bought her one of the fancy $6 tomato plants, but Mom says she's going to have to move that inside because the deer who come by to nibble at her rose bushes have discovered it.) Her granddaughter's family also regularly drop by. And while Mom tells me that they are all practicing social distancing, I'm not sure their definition of it is the same as mine.
Apparently they have designated my sister the prime runner-arounder, so she does most of the shopping. She runs down to the Home Depot to get the new wand attachment they want to try out on the power washer. She runs down to the seafood joint to pick up catfish for frying. She takes Kay Kay and her sister to cheer practice.
Because they are still having cheer practice.
Mom says my sister masks up, but knowing my sister, I doubt she's religious about it. Maybe if the mask is cute, she'll wear it. On the other hand, I can imagine my brother-in-law wearing a mask. And Mom probably wears a mask. But I don't imagine they wear them in each other's company.
And I don't imagine that my mother's idea of self-quarantine means staying away from members of her family. I don't imagine they wear masks around each other. I don't imagine there is anything I can do about that.
This is at least the second covid-19 scare they've experienced. The first was when a co-worker of my brother-in-law apparently contracted the virus. But then, I was told, it turned out he didn't really have the covid, just a bad cold.
Maybe that's the truth, or maybe that's what they're telling me so I won't worry. I worry that that's what they worry about: me worrying.
I know I can't make them follow the best practices, especially when there's so much disinformation jamming the signals that are trying to transmit what the best practices are. What I have to remember is that Mom is smart.
"It's not how deadly the virus is that's the problem," she said to me the other day, "it's how contagious it is. Maybe most people who will get it will never know they have it, but it's so contagious that it's probably going to find a lot of people who are in bad shape already."
The problem with opening everything up, mingling around and trying to develop some sort of herd immunity, is that while most people who catch it may be asymptomatic or have a relatively mild reaction to it, some who have compromised immune systems and respiratory problems will die from it.
And I know some will shrug and think: So? Everybody has to die some time. Maybe this is just a sad but necessary thing, a sacrifice we'll have to bear.
I am trying to have patience with these people. That is one way to look at it, that we spend our whole lives just digging our own graves. But I can't be that philosophical.
And I wonder if our society really values a few hours of cheer practice more than months or years those kids might spend with grandparents and great-grandparents.