What do you mean these aren’t subjects linked in everyone’s mind?
As I talked about my kids trying to figure out all of the short cuts in life last week, I feel it served me right to spend the next week telling my kids reaction to being told why they can’t short cut washing their hands. In our house where we’ve just gotten over a nasty stomach bug bad enough to send our youngest to the hospital, I’m still frequently surprised how hard it is to get our kids to wash their hands for more than 2 second splashes. So this week, I remembered the end of March had some historical relevance to Typhoid Mary. Don’t ask me why I remembered this random trivia, but I told my kids her story on Tuesday. Wednesday, March 27th, is when Mary was returned to prison where she spent her last 23 years.
I told them how there was a cook who was so good, clients kept hiring even after previous clients died. However, despite being such a good cook, almost 100 years later, she’s not known for her cooking. She’s known for refusing to wash her hands, and she’s known for all the illness she spread by refusing to wash her hands. Here was a disease known to strike people on ships, and I don’t mean the cruise liners of today. (OK not some cruise liners of today, but you get the idea) This was a time when being a mariner was not a career for those expecting to live to be an old man. The conditions were dirty, and people died of infections all the time.
Then there were all these rich families getting sick with some dieing, and they were getting sick of an illness known primarily to strike poor sailors. So investigators starting backtracking all the dead’s activities, and they all had Mary in common. She was their cook, and when confronted, she refused to believe her sanitation was the cause of the deaths. She was warned, detained, released, changed her name, was hired as a cook again, killed again and was arrested. She spent the last 23 years of her life in quarantine. 80 years later, it’s not her recipes’ tastes which are remembered. In history, she’s known for not washing her hands and despite changing her name to Mary Brown, she is known these many years later as “Typhoid Mary.”
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“Do you want to be ‘Typhoid O’ or ‘Typhoid A?'” At least for the moment the disease “typhoid” seems to have captured their imagination enough to prompt them to take washing more seriously. They even teased when either of them failed to wash their hands asking if they want the typhoid nicknames. I just wish it had lasted a bit longer as we’re back to reminding them to wash their hands. Still, we seem to be past the 2 second splash zone.
On the crazy front, as if my teaching my 6 and 7 year old about typhoid is not crazy, we had a close family member hit by a truck this week. Watching my kids’ concern manifest is heartbreaking and warming at the same time while it wears all of us so thoroughly. Watching the misbehavior and not reacting to them as signaling anything other than uncertainty is tough especially when we all worry. At least come Saturday night, nurse/mommy J was back after setting up the family to a point of at least temporary self sufficiency to make it through a night and day. It’s a reminder this Easter to live and enjoy every day. “Live every day because who knows, you might just get hit by a truck tomorrow?” is more than a cliché. Our family is proof. Still, our luck held another day, and it was a fabulous Easter Sunday.
Heck, with our family dinners’ conversations ranging from Typhoid to surgeries on any given day, of course our kids had fun pretending to wear neck braces. It’s how they deal. They were thrilled when J brought them each back one to wear. So they joke, write cards and make dinner with/for me. Then over the weekend we enjoy Easter Sunday, a fitting beginning.
Side note: I had to chuckle at myself trying to fill the little plastic eggs early in the morning before O and J woke (again). I was trying to fill 33 eggs before the kids woke again, and I knew time was short as O had been up off and on since 2 AM waking A to come down and see if the Easter Bunny had come yet. Seriously, I take so long buttoning my shirts for work that J buttons them for me to save time, and here I was trying to open, fill and close these silly little eggs quickly enough to hide them before the kids got up. It turns out 68 min. was in time with 5 minutes to spare. It’s a crazy crazy life we lead….