My oldest is down with COVID. When he first got sick and took the test, he didn’t feel well. That has changed. Despite having a good supply of oxygen, he had to go to the emergency room twice, and then last week an ambulance brought him a third time. The hospital found a bed for him. Here in Texas these days, that means you are pretty damned ill, because there are beds for only really ill people. The rest have already been taken by other COVID patients.
What do you say? I can’t visit him, and he has a tough time talking on the phone because of shortness of breath. This is an athlete we are talking about, a 35-year-old still playing a lot of soccer at a very competitive level. This is a kid who removed an old water heater and installed a new one for me just as his illness was coming on. This is a guy who is father to my three grandkids. So far, two of them — along with his wife — are COVID positive, but it looks like *fingers crossed* the symptoms are mild, a spiked temperature and a few other things, like not tasting food, for a day or so, and nothing since then. The girls are 11 and 4, too young for the vaccine. My daughter-in-law is fully vaccinated, so hopefully her case won’t get worse.
My son, on the other hand, was plenty old enough to get vaccinated but chose not to. He would never give me his reasons, and I suspect he really had none, other than being a 35-year-old athlete who thought he was bulletproof.
When you are a parent, you never stop being concerned about your kids. Once they are on their own, of course, the concern is from a distance. You can no longer bribe them into eating spinach if they really hate it. My three kids are all grown up and as willful as I was and am. Heck, they’re almost as willful as their mother and grandmother, and that is willful in all caps.
I’m pissed off that he didn’t get the jab. Yes, we might all grow purple heads out of our shoulders as a side effect in a few years, but so what? Still, it was his choice, and it is what it is. But I’m scared, worried, concerned. As a jungle tour guide, I’m the one who’s supposed to catch exotic diseases and wind up in the ICU, not my kids. I’ll wait until he’s better before I lay into him for being so damned selfish.
Hundreds of thousands of people are going through this right now, worrying about their kids, their parents, cousins, friends lying in hospitals all across the country. I hope they all get better soon.
And I hope my kid does, too, and that the girls and my daughter-in-law show no more symptoms. I love you guys. Get well soon. — Peter Gorman
Peter Gorman, who wrote for the Fort Worth Weekly for 17 years, is the author of the new book Magic Mushrooms in India and Other Incredible Tales.
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