I remember when I was five years old. My cat, Grey Feathers, had been missing for almost two days. I looked out the window to see our backyard covered in a blanket of snow. There were just a few things that stood out from the snow, such as the black tire swing, the tall garden gate, and then there was the gray-feathered item further back in the yard.
We ventured out to find Grey Feathers frozen on her walk back to her house. This was my first memorable event with loss. We all have a story from then and perhaps now of when we lost a loved one.
This story is about loss, but not in the traditional sense. I recently lost both of my parents. They’re still alive, mind you, but I have lost them. It’s almost like some older folks who lose their memory when dementia creeps in, but it’s more sudden, like when a new pimple pops up.
My parents have been divorced for over 45 years, so that’s not the loss to which I refer. My newest loss of my parents has to do with vaccination. They are Baby Boomers. And, from what I can gather, the Polio vaccine was a major player in both of their lives during those formative years. They were brought up to believe – just like every other child their age – that the vaccine was the be-all, end-all solution to Polio. It ended up being a solution, that as my parents would both separately said, “…that saved many lives.”
This peculiar tribute to a drug in a needle bred complete believers. They were evangelistic to the Polio vaccine through and through. It literally runs through many of our veins. My mom touted that in school, she and her peers were being asked to be part of the solution. They were helping humankind by trying to solve this Polio problem.
Never had I heard any of these yesteryear stories from either parent until COVID.
Now, while I can talk on the phone, through email, text, and any other creative and ever-reliant tech means possible to both of my parents, I cannot see them again face-to-face. This realization prompted a feeling of great loss inside me. Neither of my parents uttered those words, but I know that is what they feel. They are devout vaxxers who try to push me and my family into getting any and all, regardless of need or risk. When we don’t comply, I feel they are intentionally punishing me by hinting that they can never see me, my husband, or their grandchildren again.
It is clear my mom is enveloped in fear. She is still terrified that this virus is going to kill her and everyone she loves…though it has been around for well over two years and in her eyes, everything except our freedoms appear to be intact… as long as you get the shot..
My dad? Over Trump’s presidency, my dad was sucked up in that media tornado that is still spinning murky substances somewhere over Kansas. He wholeheartedly agrees with everything said from every news source he considers reputable.
He has been part of the bullying tribe, a gang of well-meaning older people who have been led astray and don’t realize it, constantly blurting, “You should really get the vaccine. Everyone I know is doing it.” I’m not sure they ever will see the bigger picture, namely that it could be right for some but not all.
The ironic thing is that these older bullies led astray are the same ones who used to march for peace in the 1960s and 1970s. They are the same cohort who stood for saving the whales, blocking forests from being chopped, and singing peace songs to avoid destroying it all. Well, it’s all destroyed now. Out with the old mindset (freedom) and in with the new (media).
I have lost my parents. They believe the rhetoric, the lies, and no matter what research I show them, what reminders I share from their past lives when they were true hippies who marched for no nukes and used critical thinking to solve problems, they are caught in the foggy tornado with a frequent, giant sprinkle of media-fused fear.
And now I see this country as split, but not down political lines anymore; that is just a facade. There is a distinct divide between those caught up in the revolving stories of war and disease through tech addiction and those who are – or have become – truth seekers, science followers, and truly critical thinkers.