What the Flu Outbreak Told Me

First visit of the new year and the home is on lockdown! Flu quarantine. When I arrived this morning a bright red sign on the front door warned that several residents had the flu and that residents were quarantined to their individual halls. Visitors should consider whether or not to visit given the increased risk of illness. There were masks provided inside the front door and visitors were encouraged to wear one.

I’ve had my flu shot for the year so I was considering myself safe inside my force field of preventative wellness. When I walked in, the kitchen staff and the nursing staff were all wearing the masks. Someone offered me a mask. I said no thanks. I’m only visiting one area and I’ve had my shot. She said all these folks had their shots and they still have vomiting and diarrhea.

AND THAT did it. Two things I hate separately that are exponentially worse when combined…vomiting and diarrhea. So I put on my blue mask and wore it the entire time!


Luckily the flu has not hit mom’s hall, and everyone was hopeful it would stay that way. She was happily reading her Maya Angelou book while Terminator 3 was on TV beside her. I love how much those two don’t go together and yet it’s exactly what she might have been doing 10 or 20 years ago at home.

My mom has always lacked conventionality. At times I’ve rebelled against it. As a teenager i could get so angry that she wasn’t like other moms. When her illness started but before we knew, being so mad she wouldn’t just get her life together and be normal.

At times I’ve benefitted from it. She got a passport and flew halfway around the world to visit me in the Peace Corps, eating things she couldn’t recognize, doing a home stay with my host family, and letting go of her normal life to experience my foreign life for herself.

And that moment today in the center of the flu outbreak, when I looked at her through her doorway, book in hand and movie playing, I thought about how one of the best gifts she ever gave me was an example of living unconventionally.

Throw out the rules.
Be different.
Do right by people and at the same time do what you want.
Let it be messy.
Let it be wonderful.
Live YOUR life.

One comment on “What the Flu Outbreak Told Me

  1. bobby stuart says:

    amen – staying in the lines isn’t always the most fun!

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