CLEVELAND — 2020 has been called "the worst year in more than a century." Few would argue against that sentiment, including those who have lived that long.
"How old am I? I'm 99," said Hilda Hutchings when we spoke to her via Zoom. The great-grandmother is among those who got the vaccine as soon as she could. She turned the occasion into a celebration of sorts.
"I got the shot on my 99th birthday," she said.
Matching her enthusiasm is Dr. Malcolm Brahms. The retired University Hospitals Orthopedic Surgeon got his first vaccination on January 18th, among the very first at U.H. when Phase 1B commenced.
Dr. Brahms was also a surgeon for the Cleveland Browns from 1965 to 1980. He worked until the age of 92. His secret to reaching 101?
"Luck! Pure luck," Dr. Brahms said during our Zoom conversation. It should also be noted that at 101, he knows his way around a computer, and handled the Zoom on his own!
Both Hilda Hutchings and Dr. Brahms never hesitated to get the vaccine. The memories of the polio era still sharp in their minds. Dr. Brahm was a resident at the time. "Part of the hospital took care of people who had polio, and it was a treacherous disease for a lot of people," he recalled.
Hutchings recalls personal connections. "That was terrible. Some of my friends were crippled so bad for life," she said.
Though the issues facing us in the pandemic are not about to magically disappear, both seniors speak of healing and renewal as we head toward COVID-19's second spring.
"My great-grandchildren are the delight of my life. I just enjoy being with them so much," said Hutchings, who is once again optimistic she will spend time with her extended family once again.
Dr. Brahms misses outings too. Socializing with others at temple. "It's reassuring not only for yourself, but for other people who you communicate with and meet," he said.
A sentiment shared by frontline workers too, like Delvert Scott, who works at the Cleveland Clinic. Scott is quite proud to show off his vaccination card.
"It represents to me that I have taken the initial step and I can be a physical example of people in the community that 'hey I'm standing next to a person who just went through the entire process,'" Scott said.
Our journey is far from over. And we cannot let our guard down. But we are rounding the corner to a time when enough people are finally vaccinated and we can gather, once again, with the people we've loved and missed.
We will hug.
Like there's no tomorrow.
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