Holding out for hope
As 2021 limps its way into history, I look forward to opening the door to 2022. With COVID continuing to menace almost everyone in one way or another, it’s difficult to look forward to another year without wondering “what next?” Another version of the virus yet not seen? More cancelled events? Is there any hope?
I remember the late 1940s and early 1950s, when Polio was rampant across the country. Wisconsin was especially hit hard. Thousands of young people suffered from the disease, many of them with paralyzed limbs, some of them confined to iron lungs that helped them breathe. A close neighbor boy died. I was one of them with Polio, a paralyzed right leg, which prevented me from walking. Which kept me home from school for several months.
For me, a 12-year old at the time, it was a time of little hope. A time of “why me?” I will never forget my father’s words at the time, “Next year will be a better year.” He said that to me often, as he helped me learn to walk once more.
At the time, not only could I not walk, but I felt worthless. After several weeks of his therapy—mostly driving the tractor where I had to use my paralyzed leg to drive it—I could walk but with a limp.
It’s easy to feel hopeless today, as hospitals fill with COVID patients, and every newscast begins with dreaded stories about the virus swirling through our communities.
My father’s words were words of hope, “Next Year will be a better year.” One way to avoid the feeling of hopelessness is to think about the good things in life. A beautiful winter day is one of the good things.
THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Hope is powerful, never, ever leave it behind.
Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to www.jerryapps.com.