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this too shall pass

Updated: Mar 20




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During times of worry or stress... or panic, one of the smartest things anyone can do is turn to the wisdom and perspective of our elders. At 93 years old, few are as eld as Queens resident Miriam Bly.


I was born in 1926. But I dinstinctly remember my mother telling stories of the influenza epidemic of 1918. It lasted for just under three years. Many refer to it as the “Spanish Flu,” although, today, we would call it H1N1. It ended in December of 1920. By then about 500 million people had been infected at one point or another. That was a third of the world’s population. Of that number, about 50 million people died. (keep in mind this was before Penicillin)


My mother told me stories of how she took care of families, loved ones, neighbors. She fed their children, bathed them. To hear her talk about it, it sounded as if everyone was ill. And one day it was over. It passed.

This too shall pass.


I don’t exactly have memories of the stock market crash of 1929, simply because my family and my neighbors, were always poor. Not homeless. We had food. And since my family worked in a bakery we always had cake. But we all lived in a tenemant. No one had much, so the era known as “The Depression” wasn’t distinctive to me. Regardless, one day it was over. It passed.

This too shall pass.


Polio was another epidemic. I know now it actually began in 1916, but it was at its peak throughout the 1940s and ‘50s, with 1949 being the worst year. In the United States and Canada that year there were 42,173 cases. Of that number, 2,720 people died. That’s about 6.5% -- more than double the (under) 3% death rate of the Corona Virus.


We feared for our children. We made little pouches filled with camphor balls or moth balls and wore them around our necks to ward off “Polio germs”. In hindsight, I doubt this worked. It brings to mind all the people walking around wearing surgical masks that the CDC says don’t actually help. Around 1955 or ‘56, there was a vaccine for Polio. At that time it was called “experimental” but they started giving it to our children in schools anyway. And just like that, it was over. It passed.

This too shall pass.


Throughout everything people endured. We lived. At a minimum, we survived. But most did better than merely surviving. We kept living. We got up every day. We breathed in and out. We loved. We married. We had children, grandchildren, great grandchildren.


Of course there’s reason to worry right now. There have been deaths. And some are losing their livlihoods. But one day soon it will be over. We’ll continue.

Plans can be changed, postponed. Later it all just becomes a story and something that gave us character and strength. It passed.


This too shall pass.

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