Dearest Granddaughter and Grandson-in-law:
I don’t know if you are aware that I lost my beloved brother-in-law, Dwight, on Jan. 30 this year to COVID-19. He was a well and strong man, and in five weeks he became desperately ill and died. I knew Dwight for over 60 years as he was a friend of our family before he married my sister. It has been a profound loss. (Grandpa too loved Dwight and was deeply saddened by his death.) My sister, Kay, was also hospitalized with COVID-19, and it has taken many weeks for her to recover her full strength and begin to come to terms with losing her husband of 48 years. It has been a very tough journey for her. Thankfully, she is supported by many friends and a close and loving family.
I tell you this because I want you to understand the background to my concerns. I don’t know if you have been following the developments of the COVID-19 virus and the variants that now are circulating in the U.S. The English variant that killed Dwight was about twice as infectious as the original virus. A recent variant is called delta and it is twice as infectious as the English virus. Of the people currently suffering from COVID-19 infections now, 99% are not vaccinated. Only a tiny number of vaccinated people have contracted COVID-19 and none of them have died. Now that the vaccinations have been around for over six months there is a great deal of data available about possible side effects. Millions of people, including your grandpa and me, have been vaccinated, and a tiny, tiny percentage have suffered side effects worse than a sore arm or muscle aches. The data is in: vaccination saves people from illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
It is very distressing to Grandpa and me that such a large percentage of the American population have refused or are reluctant to be vaccinated based on rumors and frankly falsehoods. If 70% of the population of this country get vaccinated, it is likely that COVID-19 can be controlled. Less than this percentage and COVID-19 will continue to shift and change and become more and more infectious and people of all ages will lose friends and loved ones.
A small number of children are infected with COVID-19, and a few of them develop some very serious medical conditions. I cannot imagine that either of you wish your children to suffer.
And if one of you were infected (and the likelihood is increasing as COVID-19 becomes more virulent) and became seriously ill or worse — that is one of my worst nightmares. It takes so little to protect yourselves and your children and the risks are tiny. Please consider my request that you get vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to protect yourselves and your family.
This message is intended only in love and protection for you all. Grandpa and I love you all deeply and only want the very best for all of you, especially the health and long life that the two of us have been blessed with.
A further note from Grandpa:
I have yet to meet parents with greater dedication, love and drive for improvement than you two. I try not to make a big deal of it, but not a day or night passes without my finding something scary to worry about happening to my family. This COVID-19 monster is the scariest and most frightening of all. Knowing this terrible disease might take either of you is almost more than I can deal with. Grandma expresses my feelings very well in her writing above.
Love to you all,
Grandpa and Grandma
Susanne Ratcliffe Wilson is a retired family court mediator and mental health clinician. She and her husband, a commercial fisherman, have lived in Homer since 2006. She is a glass artist, crane lover and loves to hike, garden, and walk Mojo, the dog. She is an active Quaker and facilitates the Homer Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) Advocacy Team.