After writing the letter to the priest, I avoided any “controversial” correspondences for a year. Then in January 1991, all of you got the chicken pox. Apparently, you were infected by Laura, but if it hadn’t been from her, it would have been someone else. It is a nasty and very contagious disease, and it began to spread like wild fire throughout your school and our household.

Kelly was in kindergarten that year, so as soon as I spotted the first pox, I called the school nurse to let her know. I assumed she would want to know so she could inform the other parents, but that was not her policy. I was furious, so my letter moratorium ended.

I explained that it was her duty to notify the other parents because no one knows what was going on behind the closed doors of all the households in the school. Our family was aware how dangerous a disease like chicken pox could be to someone with a compromised immune system from chemotherapy treatments or certain diseases. It was not her place to withhold such information.

A child under the age of six months would usually be protected by the antibodies from their mother, but after that, they would be susceptible. Apparently Aunt El learned this when Matthew exposed baby Chris soon after he was born. Casey was only fourteen months old when she got “poxxed,”and she got it bad.  At that age, she did not understand what was happening, nor could she follow directions not to scratch it too much. All she knew was that I was continually throwing all of you in the tub for Aveeno baths—several each day. It was a truly miserable illness and I am glad none of your children will ever experience it.

So I was quite adamant that the nurse send out a letter and told her I would if she did not. I guess she realized I meant business, because after that, we always got a letter when a contagious illness was circulating around the school, whether it be the chicken pox or strep throat.

From that time on, I became a letter writer. Sometimes it was to offer praise, like the time I wrote to thank Kelly’s math teacher for the wonderful job she was doing, while other times it was to “enlighten” a teacher. You all remember when I started writing letters regarding a certain Earth Science teacher’s unreasonable summer assignment. Were you mad and embarrassed that I did this or glad? In any case, the superintendent got wind of my crusade and agreed it was excessive. So a win for me.

You know the letter writing was genetic as exemplified by all of Grandpa’s letters I brought back from Maryland. I can’t help it, and sometimes it leads to an amazing trip and fifteen minutes of fame!

Pox Photo


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