Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
MY WORD: My mother is gone from COVID-19, and you need to do better
editor's pick

MY WORD: My mother is gone from COVID-19, and you need to do better

  • 1

By Stephen Mark Rainey

My mom spent the last few months of her life in a nursing home. Sure enough, COVID-19 entered its halls, and as the virus inexorably infected one resident after another, my mom caught it.

She had a stroke, which is not uncommon in elderly patients. She was hospitalized in a COVID-19-positive ward, then moved to a COVID-19-positive “rehab center,” which actually turned out to be hospice care. I was able to see and talk to her on a video call; she was unresponsive, clearly in physical distress. By the next morning, she had developed a raging fever and was soon struggling for every breath. The staff administered morphine to ease her “discomfort.” Less than 48 hours after being admitted to the center, Mom passed away.

Before the virus took her, my mother was frail and probably wouldn’t have been many moons longer for this earth. But her story can now be added to those of the thousands upon thousands who have suffered and died from something that, a few months ago, we didn’t know existed.

Yes, I know some of you believe the whole pandemic thing is, if not an outright hoax, then sheer hysteria fueled by the fear-mongering media. Well, I’ll grant you that one thing: The media does indeed thrive on fear and conflict; however, if you believe that’s solely the purview of the ubiquitous liberal media, you might want to take note of that big old plank protruding from your eyeball.

It’s always prudent to consume the media’s output with a high degree of skepticism. But bias and sensationalism, while undesirable, are not in themselves sufficient to invalidate legitimate journalism, of which there is plenty to be found. Too many individuals confuse universal nay-saying of media reporting with actual analytical skills.

What I find mystifying, at least a little, is the willingness of almost unfathomable numbers of herd-thinkers to disbelieve unbiased, scientifically vetted conclusions based on the best available evidence, in favor of outlets that, at one time, would have been held in the same regard as The National Enquirer. Do you actually believe the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak is some Democrat-propagated hoax or movement devised by socialist wackos, or some such nonsense, meant to crash our economy, to discredit the president of the United States, to assume control of you as an individual? That a mandate to wear a mask somehow violates your inalienable rights as a FREE American?

Are you going to ask me how much freedom I am willing to give up for security? Are you serious? Do you wear a seat belt? Why? Do you avoid driving drunk? Why? Do you refrain from shooting people who annoy you? Why? Do you follow any statute to avoid harming other people? Why? Why bother?

No one is asking you to lay down your life, to storm the beaches of Normandy under withering Nazi gunfire, to offer up anything but a little concern for your neighbor. Even if you truly feel this whole business is not all it is cracked up to be, would it not be reasonable to make even the smallest sacrifice to avoid harming someone who may be more vulnerable than you are? You don’t know how vulnerable the person next to you might actually be. Does your “freedom” to be a selfish, conceited, arrogant, ignorant dolt supersede someone else’s right to exist with at least minimized risk? I keep hearing noise to the effect that: “You are being conditioned to believe that embracing your freedom is being selfish.”

Please. PLEASE. Putting yourself so much above others to their peril is the very definition of selfishness.

“The whole thing is fake.”

Tell that to several hundred thousand dead. If Muslims killed 150,000+ Americans in five months, we would have wiped out half the world.

“Masks are not effective; how does the virus know whether it is coming out or going in?”

Read up on a little science. Look up the pee analogy. Look up the frosty wintertime exhalation analogy. Look up something other than COVIDIOT propaganda. Of course, the mask isn’t protecting you so much as your neighbor, and yes, it is imperfect, but it helps. If you value anyone other than yourself, do you really need more than that?

“The death rate is too low to justify putting myself out. Wearing a mask serves no purpose but to make you feel good. People are gonna die from the flu. They are gonna die from heart disease. They are gonna die in car accidents. They are gonna die from drunk drivers.”

Of course they will. We are all going to die. Yet those of us who take personal responsibility seriously do not facilitate any of these things. Driving drunk is a choice. So is not wearing a mask. If someone dies because of your willful bad choice, guess what? You are as culpable as any drunk driver.

“People taking precautions against the spread of a puny little virus are living in fear. Bunch of sheep!”

This one is stupid. S.T.U.P.I.D. No, it is not fear — although a wee spot of fear can be a healthy thing. Embracing fear is how human beings survive beyond childhood. But there is a huge difference between living in fear and showing a healthy respect for a threatening microorganism. Surely, you’re aware that in wars throughout history, far more people died from microorganisms than getting blowed up real good? Only medical science in the past century turned that around. Of course, many of us are all about protecting ourselves from being blown up real good, but we apparently don’t consider a deadly virus worth defending against.

“The experts don’t have a clue what they are talking about because they keep saying different things.”

Do you have any idea how science works? Do you realize that, as an unprecedented influence in our lifetimes, COVID-19 has turned us all into subjects of a big old science experiment? In science, we usually do not have magic, pat answers right off the bat. Discovering the right answers involves weeding out a lot of wrong ones first. Intelligent people make the best decisions based on the information at hand, and when that information is invalidated or improved upon, one adjusts accordingly.

Now, if you do not care for my perspective, well, that is your prerogative. But to the best of my ability, I have done due diligence. My doctor tells me to wear a mask. In real life and in the virtual world, I have a wealth of friends and acquaintances who work in the medical field, and they tell me to wear a mask.

My daughter is a researcher at Columbia University Medical Center in NYC, for God’s sake, and she tells me to wear a mask. Virtually all reputable medical professionals will tell you to wear a mask.

Look, most of you do not have physical conditions that preclude you from performing this simple act of care and respect, and if you truly do, I understand. I am not railing about you.

Most of you only need to wear a mask for a short spell, while you are interacting with people in public. You probably will not be in the thing long enough for that dreaded (non-existent) carbon dioxide poisoning to claim you.

Look, we all want to get beyond this mess. Really, we do. But we have been locked down, we have been isolated, we have suffered massive economic loss. And for what? To have to start all over again because so many of you cannot abide being asked to modify your behavior, if only a little? I cannot abide that.

Compared to most of the rest of the world, we have shown ourselves to be anything but models of decency, good character, and faith. No, we have proven to be, in large part, morons.

All it takes is one moron not taking precautions. One to start the wildfire.

Do you think you could be a bigger person? At least when you are interacting with others? It could hardly require any more effort than I am giving, being a somewhat misanthropic agnostic who has long thought that a good extinction event might be just what this planet needs. But I am going to make that effort.

I’m going to make that effort so that when I do have to go out among others maybe — just maybe — my breathing won’t kill your mother.

Stephen Mark Rainey is author of numerous short stories, scripts, and novels. Originally from Martinsville, he lives in Greensboro, N.C.

Catch the latest in Opinion

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


Breaking News

News Alert