My aunt is old and in ill-health. I hadn’t spoken to her or my uncle in a while, so I asked my father if he had. He said he had, so I asked how she was.
“She’s scared shitless over this Covid thing,” he said. “Of course, she still can’t hardly leave the couch since those falls. But now she doesn’t even allow anyone but your uncle in the house. Not even her own kids, I don’t think.”
“She’s been ill for a while,” I said. “She probably doesn’t need the virus.”
“Jesus Christ,” her brother said. “She’s 83. She’s been in bad health for a while. You’d think she’s prepared herself to die from something soon enough. I’m 13 years younger but I’m prepared to die, so I don’t know why’s she so damned scared.”
“Some people don’t wanna get the virus,” I said. “Especially old people.”
“Since your uncle had his cancer, she takes any doctor’s word as gospel,” my father said. “They got her scared to death with this virus stuff.”
I was curious if my father believed his advice would be better than the doctors’. I was curious for a second before admitting that I already knew.
“I’ve heard first and second hand that getting the virus, in one of the best case scenarios, is like having the worst pain you ever felt from head to toe. An inescapable ache five or ten times worse than the regular flu,” I said.
“So?” my father said.
“And dying from it’s like a slow drowning as your lungs fill up with fluid. That is until they put you out and stick the tube down your throat.”
“So?” he said again.
“So it makes sense an 83-year-old woman might want to avoid any of that.”
Clearly irritated, my father said, “Well, I can see we’re going to have to change the subject. I don’t want to fight. It’s almost Christmas.”
“I think I’d like a change of subject too,” I said. “But next time you talk to her, tell her I hope she is well.”
“Okay,” my father said.
And then we changed the subject.