Senior Health

11/8/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency

In this edition of “Ask Amy,” advice columnist Amy Dickinson hears from a woman who is haunted by the Asian Flu pandemic of the early 20th century, and COVID-19 stirs her memories deeply.

Dear Amy:

I’m responding to the question from “Exasperated Mom,” regarding children wearing masks in school.

My mother died in 1957 in the Asian flu pandemic. I caught the virus at school (I was in kindergarten) and passed it on to her.

We lived in Aurora, Ohio.

My teacher didn’t know there was at least one student in her classroom who passed it on to me, and perhaps other students. No one was masked.

I remember being quite sick, and I remember my shock and sadness as a 5-year-old on the morning that my mother died.

Catching that illness at school created deadly havoc in our home and has haunted me my whole life.

I’m 69 years old now, and the loss of my mother certainly changed the lives of my sister and our father.

This COVID-19 pandemic has brought back many memories, and I am a strong advocate of precautions, including masks and vaccines.

Please continue to emphasize masks and vaccines in your column.

– Reverend Dr. Kay Palmer Marsh

Dear Reverend Marsh:

I’m so sorry you carry this loss.

Quoting from a fascinating article about the 1957 pandemic, published in Smithsonian Magazine (in 2020):

“The pandemic of 1957-58 ultimately caused 1.1 million deaths worldwide, and it follows the 1918 crisis as the second-most severe influenza outbreak in U.S. history. Some 20 million Americans were infected, and 116,000 died. Yet researchers estimate that a million more Americans would have died if not for the pharmaceutical companies that distributed 40 million doses of [Maurice] Hilleman’s vaccine that fall, inoculating about 30 million people.”

Maurice Hilleman was a researcher with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. He identified the H2N2 flu strain, raised the alarm about the approaching pandemic, developed the vaccine, and pushed companies to rush vaccines into production.

As of this writing, so far almost 4.9 million people have died of COVID-19 – 716,000 in the United States.

According to a global study published by the CDC (“Children: The Hidden Pandemic”), an estimated 2 million children worldwide have lost a parent or caregiver to COVID.

So far, 140,000 children in the U.S. have lost a parent/caregiver to the disease.

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers – ranging from someone haunted by the Asian flu pandemic to DNA surprises. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

Read more Ask Amy columns curated for a boomer audience.

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff