Even for a snow lover like me, this has been enough winter. Temperatures cold enough to send my paycheck directly to Duke Power, several skids on slippery roads, and now, instead of toasted pecans and dried cranberries falling from the sky, we get ice. It’s February in North Carolina! Where are the daffodils?
Thanks to Facebook, I know that I am not alone. I read of my co-workers who ended up abandoning their vehicles by the side of the road in yesterday’s storm, being picked up by intrepid husbands or bunking down with friends within walking distance. For myself, I was pacing and praying a good bit until Michael drove in the driveway, his black car heaped with snow. After that, I was happy to watch the snow falling—until it turned into something else. We had to open the door and listen to the hissing sound to figure out that it was sleet. So far, though, we still have power!
Hard to believe that just last Saturday, I was pulling weeds in my garden boxes and dreaming of spring.
And Puppies Don’t Turn Into Kittens, Either
Lately, we have had the misfortune to be able to observe America’s mourning practices up close several times. So many of these rituals have developed over the years as a way to show respect and love to people—even strangers—who are going through the worst of human experiences. In the South, at least in small towns and rural areas, people still pull their cars over to the side and wait for a funeral procession to go by. This practice, along with the provision of endless casseroles, is a simple and beautiful way of acknowledging that we are all part of one community, and that we will all be in the chief mourner’s spot at some time.
On the other hand, pop culture can turn the gravest matters into misplaced kitsch with the best of intentions. The one thing that really makes me twitch—even more than teddy bears at a crash site—is the idea that people who die turn into angels in heaven. What a stroke of metaphysical macroevolution! In the Bible, people who are believers are called saints, and when they get to heaven, they are still called saints. Despite all the Raphael paintings of fat babies with wings, angels in the Bible are pretty terrifying. That’s why they’re always saying, “Fear not!”
Beyond the baby cherubs, though, I blame Hollywood for this misunderstanding. Oh, come on, let’s blame Hollywood for all misunderstandings! Think of the movies that have been made about angels earning their wings, starting with the beloved It’s a Wonderful Life. Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings? Does that extend to all of my cell phone notification rings? Perhaps cell phone dings earn the angel virtual wings. Pretty soon, this place is going to be full of fluffy feathers, though, so we must stop this nonsense. Forsake pop theology immediately, or I will smash all of your Precious Moments figurines.
So Why Did I Have a Flu Shot?
Two of us had a flu shot, too.
What is the flu shot meant to do?
My poor husband was really sick with a bad cold for two weeks. After a bit, he complained of being achy, and I swore that he was feverish. Being the manly man that he is, he exclaimed, “Pshaw!” (or something equally dismissive) and declared that he was fine. When he went to his doctor for a regular check-up, his doctor said, “This is not a cold! This is the flu!” And being the wifely wife that I am, I said, “I told you so.”
After more than a week, though, Michael started sniffling, and a few days after that, I fell to the virus, too. The thing is that, unlike David, we had both had a flu shot! So we got Zippity Flu. Instead of having a fever for days, you have a fever for twelve hours. Aches are held down to a few hours, and instead of hacking up a lung, the cough is just incredibly annoying. I was only sick for a week, while David wasn’t completely back to himself for three weeks.
What is the deal here? Is the wrong strain of flu in the vaccine, or is the virus much stronger than usual this year? I am very grateful to have had a light case, since, as a reader and Downton Abbey fan, I know that people used to die of influenza regularly. Without the vaccine, our chances of survival are really no different today, since hardly anyone goes to the doctor to be treated with Tamiflu, the effectiveness of which is still considered iffy. So, I will queue up for the shot again next year, like the good government worker that I am, but I think I’ll encourage David to visit his doctor early in the season, too. I’m sure it will still be free. Maybe.