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Coronavirus (24): Three Cheers for the Ol' Folks

Having previously addressed one of the more absurd episodes during this Corona-Crisis with regard to calls for old folks to sacrifice themselves for the common good, I was happy to read three human interest stories that I found uplifting in the extreme.

Submitted for your approval: the case of one Maria Rodriguez, 87 years old:

When Brooklyn great-grandmother Maria Rodriguez realized she was losing her fight with coronavirus at home, she braced herself for the worst. She checked into NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn on Monday. And then she told her daughter, Norma Collado, to be strong and to be patient if she couldn’t be buried right away. She asked that her great grandchildren be taken to the cemetery to see her off when the time came. And she put fresh nail polish on her fingernails so the mortician wouldn’t have to. "The color was purple, like a lilac," Collado said. But as it turned out, the 87-year-old Rodriguez was stronger than the coronavirus that put her in the hospital. Rodriguez, of Borough Park, is now recovering at her daughter’s home in Perth Amboy. Three days after she entered the hospital---eight days after she first fell ill---Rodriguez became the 850th patient who tested positive with coronavirus to be discharged from NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn.

I'm all the more happy to hear about how well NYU Langone is handling this situation; I was due to have a lithotripsy there in mid-March, for a stone that has taken up residence in my left kidney since the summer of 2018. Right now, "elective" surgeries are still not available in NYC. But even if they were, as long as my stone continues to defy the laws of gravity, I'm electing to stay as far away from any medical facility in this city for as long as I can. Yes, hospitalizations and intubations are down in the state and in the city, and for two straight days, we have had death toll tallies of under 200 per day. Given a plateau of nearly 800 deaths per day... there is cause for some optimism.

With the gradual improvement of the situation here in the Big Apple, there was another news item in the New York Daily News that was just as nice to read. Score another one for the Ol' Folks.

Submitted for your approval: the case of Tony Vaccaro, 97 years old, famous war photographer:

Tony Vaccaro's mother died in childbirth, and at a tender age he also lost his father to tuberculosis. By age 5 he was ... orphaned in Italy, enduring beatings from an uncle. As an American GI during World War II he survived the Battle of Normandy. Now, a celebrated wartime and celebrity photographer at age 97, he is getting over a bout with COVID-19. He attributes his longevity to "blind luck, red wine" and determination. ... Vaccaro lives in Queens, a New York City borough ravaged by the novel coronavirus, next to his son Frank, his twin grandsons and his daughter-in-law Maria, who manages his archive of 500,000 photographs. He might have caught the virus in April from his son or while walking in their neighbourhood, his daughter-in-law said. He was in the hospital for only two days with mild symptoms and spent another week recovering. Then he surprised everyone by getting up and shaving. "That was it," she said. "He’s walking around like nothing happened."

Since this virus has ravaged the elderly, news about an 87-year old great grandmother and a 97-year old celebrated photographer beating the virus is an inspiration. But they're practically kids next to this next victor!

Submitted for your approval: Frances Abbraciamento, who turned 107 on May 9th:

Centenarian Frances Abbracciamento of Queens had caught a cold in late March during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in New York. Days later the 106-year-old was diagnosed with pneumonia, and her four children prepared for the worst. "We really thought we were going to lose her," her daughter, Alda Spina, told the Daily News. But by the end of April, Abbracciamento ... had made a near-full recovery---and it was only then that her family learned she had survived coronavirus. "We couldn't believe it," said Spina, who received her mom's COVID-19 test results on April 21. "I never thought in a million years she would survive it. People don't survive it."

I am reminded of that 1962 third season "Twilight Zone" episode, "Kick the Can," wherein Rod Serling reminds us, in his closing narration "that childhood, maturity, and old age are curiously intertwined and not separate."

Three cheers to these three ol' folks for having "kicked the can" down the road... and survived their respective bouts with COVID-19. Here's to kicking the can down the road for the thousands of others affected by this pandemic.