The Germ (and Dragon) Slayer

By Rose Ann Sinay

The Germ (and Dragon) Slayer

Well, we did it. My daughter, my son-in-law, my granddaughter, two dogs and a cat (and a couple of hopeful spiders looking for a warm spot) survived almost two and a half months together in the same house in an attempt to bring a bit of normal back to their lives that had been shaken by the unexpected.

Since life, bills and taxes go on, my presence allowed my daughter and her husband to go back to work while we waited for a surgery date for my granddaughter. Their home was a bubble of sorts to keep “our” baby, Mila Rose, healthy for her upcoming surgery. A common cold and an emergency operation had delayed her scheduled heart surgery, so we had to be extra vigilant to keep it from happening again.

I arrived and took over my daughter’s large office/spare room (she works from home) that also housed Mila’s baby-spa swing with all the buttons and options that I would, eventually, conquer. It was also Mila’s designated nap and changing area during the day. A hutch section of the bookcase became the baby center stocked with diapers, lotions, salves and extra clothes.

I like to say I’m a creative person which means I am not organized or tidy. I had no problem navigating through my clothes, some hung in the closet, others stacked in a plastic basket. And okay, a few hanging on the foot board of the bed. My cosmetics and sundries were haphazardly shoved into a cleared niche next to my daughter’s neatly organized and labeled work shelves. My daughter is a neat freak who actually makes lists and checks off the items when completed. If she takes something out, she puts it away when she’s finished. We are not alike.

“The baby is in here somewhere, right?” she would ask with a laugh when she walked in the room when she took a break. I saw her cringe and felt her need to put something away, but not knowing where to start. I knew it was going to drive both of us crazy. I tried to be neater, and she tried to stay out of the room.

We hibernated inside our bubble, warding off germs, keeping everybody and everything at bay. In my mind’s eye, I saw ugly, nasty looking bugs – complete with hairy legs, sharp pointy teeth and green slime slithering from their mouths – lurking on every surface. I may not have a neatness compulsion, but I do border on mysophobia. I walked around the house, when I wasn’t holding the baby, with a can of Lysol trying to find an inch of space that I hadn’t disinfected.

My son-in-law headed straight for the shower as soon as he got home from work, reminding me of a decontamination chamber in a sci-fi movie. There was a germicidal pump (or two) in every room, as well as special wipes, and breathing masks in case we felt a tickle in our throats or the hint of any malady coming on. Of course, I imagined I had everything possible. If I sneezed, I began the “what ifs.” What if that sneeze was the beginning of a cold, or a virus, or a fever?

My first week of Grandma Daycare, I wore the blue and white elastic hospital mask over my lower face. My granddaughter must have thought it was a part of me because when I finally stopped wearing it, I got huge, sloppy smiles from Mila. She must have realized Grandma was a human after all, complete with a mouth and a nose.

No, we shouldn’t have been taking her temperature every day, three times a day. But we did. We couldn’t help it. I would find my daughter pointing the thermometer at Mila’s head after I had done so just fifteen minutes earlier. We pretended not to notice. Sneezing three or four times in secession, several times a day is common with Mila’s condition. We knew that, but we couldn’t help but stare, expecting her to suddenly break out in hives or a runny nose.

We worried as we disinfected, sterilized and waited for the date from the surgeon. Mila, on the other hand, smiled and cooed, crying only when wet or hungry. It was ironic that she created the stabilizing, calming moments of our day.

Friday afternoon the phone rang. Mila had a date; we were elated. And then, the enormity of it all hit us. Now the real work would begin.

I am on the train on my way home. Luckily, there is no one in the other seat. It is piled high with my coat, computer case and my purse. My overstuffed suitcases are crammed in the space above me. I am comfortable.

Back at my daughter’s house, her office is back to being an office. Mila is probably drinking her fifth or sixth bottle of the day. I miss her little face already. How lucky I am to have spent this time with her.

We had bumbled through some of the endless waiting together. I will be so happy when Mila’s parents can take that big sigh of relief, for then I can, too. I will be back after the surgery, armed with charmed herbs (baby vapor rub), boiling water and sanitizers to help slay the dragons and the pointy-toothed germs for our little warrior princess.

About this writer

  • Rose Ann Sinay Rose Ann Sinay is a freelance writer typing away in sunny North Carolina. Her articles/stories have been published in The Carolinas Today, The Oddville Press and The Brunswick Beacon.

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13 Responses to “The Germ (and Dragon) Slayer”

  1. Erika Hoffman says:

    I understand exactly! Isn’t it funny how moms don the grandma shawl so easily and step up when needed? Tasks that might have seemed like joyless chores when a woman is a young mom now seem like joyful events when one becomes a grandma. It’s a pleasure to take care of a baby.

  2. Linda O'Connell says:

    I was right there with you. Your daughter sounds like mine, and I too am the creative type. Hope your sweet Mila is doing well. Enjoyed your story.

  3. Great article, dragon slayer!

  4. Tammy Rohlf says:

    How very lucky for you all to have been able to come together to “slay the dragon” and make wonderful memories doing so. Not every body would have stepped up like you did. So happy she is doing so well!

  5. Kailey Konow says:

    Ha! You totally nailed it- from my OCD organization to your lack of and from to our constant fear of Mila or us getting sick to the constant sterilization… of everything! Thanks for being here- I’ll stay out of your room :)

  6. Sandy Forde says:

    I just loved your current story. I can imagine all of you watching over this little babe with such concern . Ironic that she was the the major calming force. The circumstances were described so vividly that I really could imagine what you were going through. So happy that Mika is doing so well now and that you can all relax a little. Keep your wonderful stories coming.

  7. Sandy Forde says:

    Oh no I put Mika instead of Mila. So sorry,I am new at typing on this small screen.

  8. Colleen Wenthen says:

    Another great story! Imagine Milo’s joy reading how much she was loved and cared for during this such a difficult time.

  9. Britt says:

    Great story and well written. I agree with the previous comment about the great gift you are giving Mila and Jaclyn with your stories.

  10. Ha Ha I could totally picture your room. Love it! The most important thing was you were there to help and that’s all that matters.. Bless you all!

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