Saturday, January 10, 2009

Babci's tuberculosis story

Babci had another story of God preserving her life which held for her a very deep nugget off wisdom: we need to just do what needs to be done, because attempts at self preservation are doomed to failure.

When Zoshka was a teenager, there was a tuberculosis outbreak in her little village, where many of the residents were related to her in one way or another. Several households in the community were hit with the disease. Entire households were sick, and many people were dying. Many of Babci's relatives were affected.

In the homes where everyone in the house was ill, someone was going to have to come stay with them to care for them. However, tuberculosis is a highly contagious disease, so no one really wanted to do that, and whoever went to nurse the patients would have to stay in quarantine with them. Naturally, there was an even higher chance chance than normal that that person would also catch the disease.

My Babci volunteered, but her family said no. They thought someone who had already lived her life, someone who might die soon anyway, would be more appropriate. So they called upon one of Babci's aunts, an older woman. They asked her to step forward and take her responsibility of caring for the ill. But Babci's aunt protested. She in fact refused, pointing out that she was a mother and had children, that there were people who depended on her and who would miss her if something happened to her. She argued that someone young and without ties would be more appropriate. And so it was decided, by default, that Zoshka's offer of moving into quarantine in order to care for her relatives ill with tuberculosis, would be accepted. She did so, and for several weeks she went from house to house, helping people cough up blood, giving them cold compresses for their fevers, changing their bedsheets, trying to feed them.

Several people died, and other people came through. Babci survived. She actually never contracted the illness. But her aunt, the one who had insisted on preserving herself, became one of the victims. Though she tried to keep herself safe, she contracted tuberculosis and passed away. From a young age, my Babci was learning that God saved her for a purpose and that it was only God who could save her, not herself.

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