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Life during COVID-19: A Perspective

03/07/2020 10:13:56 AM


Gladys Rose


Being in lock-down for many weeks has allowed me much time for reflection.

I live in a lovely Retirement Residence in Toronto. In my youth, such places were called Old Folks Homes. So much for euphemisms.

I grew up in Saskatoon. In my youth, disease was accepted as part of life. Everyone had family or friends who were patients in the local sanatorium for tuberculosis. Children were expected to contract some, if not all, of: measles, chicken pox, mumps, scarlet fever and even diphtheria. I recall wailing in Yiddish, "Mozelach zine nisht gut, Mameh -- Measles are not good, Mommy!" When diphtheria struck, I was quarantined in a small building near St. Paul's Hospital. Yiddish was my first language, but I emerged from quarantine after three weeks, an English speaker.

My wedding to Gerry Rose took place at the old Agudas Israel shul on Avenue F and 21st Street on August 25, 1946. We required, in addition to a wedding license, a blood test to ensure we did not have syphilis. Although not an epidemic, it was rampant.

With four children, every summer came with anxiety along with vacations. Polio. How we feared it. And of course we had friends and family who contracted it. What a huge relief it was when a vaccine was developed.

During the Middle Ages, when thousands died in Europe as a result of the Black Plague, Jews were accused of causing the plague by poisoning the wells. The Pope attempted to dissuade people -- after all, Jews were also dying. But anti-Semitism continued, unabated.

So here we are today. We have endured AIDS, SARS, Ebola and MERS. Mother Nature is one step ahead of us, as usual. We are now enduring a pandemic of something called a coronavirus. Of course, we expect a vaccine will be developed sooner or later. And that will be a huge relief.

But there will be another disease lurking in the wings, just waiting to pounce on us.I hope the lessons learned in the last weeks and months will be applied when that time comes.

In the meantime, STAY WELL!

Sun, 29 January 2023 7 Sh'vat 5783