My mom held my hand as we walked along the sidewalk. The four of us looked like many other families in the neighborhood, all hurrying along to the same place — to get vaccinated against the horror of the times, polio.

A snippet of that memory came back last week after my first COVID vaccination. The contrast between that simple neighborhood walk and the monumental vaccination efforts of today is still stuck in my head. The differences between polio times and COVID times are striking, but the fear families felt is probably the same. For sure parents were panicking over polio, but in my family those feelings would never have been said out loud.

2021: When my vaccination time came up, I was nervous and excited at the same time. A year spent avoiding crowds and now I had to face a mass gathering at the university stadium. My pulse raced thinking about the logistics of “shooting” thousands in a day made  but the setup was impressive. Every single soul was masked and distanced, and someone was “holding my hand” from the moment I stepped out of the car. Volunteers galore herded us all to the next station, starting with temperatures and ending with a 15- min. wait in case of reactions. All in less than 30 min. A good laugh halfway through way made it easier. As the steady stream of people were funneled into roped-off paths, I envisioned cattle chutes and steers being prodded along to the branding iron. It was obvious that getting thousands from here to there takes a herculean effort.

Step one is over, whew! The fear of bringing the virus home to my husband has eased now that we’ve both had our shots. And… I got to take a positive step forward instead of stagnating at home or group bitching about why it’s so hard to get vaccinated!

I’ve been reflecting a lot on how simple it all was in the 1950’s. Wait in line, move ahead, open wide, walk home. Painless, no need even for a chair. No Vaccination Envy.

I admit to being a baby and am in awe of those who jump on new experiences with gusto while I quiver and quake at what could possibly go wrong. There are adventurers. Then there are scaredy cats!

Weeded out this week: Never have I been so aware of how complicated EVERYTHING is. Never have I been so determined to simplify my life, but I’m working on it every day — stem to stern, weed by weed.