My Turn, Gary Hauze: Stay home, no matter how long it takes

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 10, 2020

By Gary Hauze

Recently, I received word from a that an aunt’s granddaughter and her husband died of COVID-19 in northeast Pennsylvania. They died 3 days apart.

While I never knew these young adults, please pray for their family — the Lenders — and the rest of that aunt’s family — the Badmans.

Earlier in the month, one of my mother’s two surviving younger sisters told me something about our family history which I never knew before. I was telling her about the Falkner Swamp Reformed Church of the United Church of Christ (founded in 1720 and America’s oldest Reformed church) cemetery in which are the tombstones of entire families who died  from the influenza soldiers brought home from Europe to what was then a farming area. As pastor there for five years, those graves have haunted me since 1974.

Then this aunt told me about an ancestral church, the Old River Church near the village of Wapwallopen, which she lives near. It overlooks the Susquehanna River and its cemetery has the graves of Smiths, Hellers, other relations and unrelated folks. A large number died when soldiers from that farming-orchard area came home after World War I and gave influenza to people. Again, entire families or some or all the children and some of the elderly died from that pandemic. Re-infection was also a factor.

Many families of 3 generations lived in the same farm house. Going to church was the major activity they shared together with other families. Until the 1920s, it was a common way of life.

Then, people began to move to towns and cities to work.

We must learn from history, which is a great and sometimes awful teacher.

So, friends and neighbors: stay in your own home isolated for as long as told or longer. Please don’t be beguiled into thinking that it’s safe to go back to work or for kids to go back to school or to resume other activities from normal times. This is not a normal time.

Unless your job is absolutely essential as a nurse or doctor, grocery clerk, a police officer or soldier, postal worker or a person in another field, why would you want to expose yourself — and others — to the risk of contracting COVID-19 and perhaps dying from it?

Be safe, no matter how long it takes to make sure.

Let’s hope and pray for a vaccine to be discovered and made available for free to all. We’re in this together and we’ll get through this together. We are Americans.

Rev. Gary Hauze lives in Salisbury.