May 1, 2021 ~ MOUNTAIN Home ~ By Michael Capuzzo
The Drug that Cracked COVID
On the morning of December 18, 2020, as the newscaster announced a grim New York record for COVID-19 deaths and the weatherman predicted a white Christmas for Buffalo, Judy Smentkiewicz drove home from a house cleaning job, excited about the holiday. But her back hurt bad, and she was unusually exhausted. “I thought it was my age, being eighty years old, working every day,” she said. “I never thought about COVID.”
Judy’s small house in Cheektowaga, just east of Buffalo, was all set for Christmas. Daughter Michelle, who lives a few miles away and talks to her mother five times a day, put up the tree and the decorations and the snowman on the front lawn of grandma’s house with her daughter until it looked like a scene from It’s a Wonderful Life. Son Michael came up from Florida with his wife Haley to help his sister cook the family Christmas Eve dinner, usually for twenty-five, but now just immediate family with “COVID shaping everything,” Michael said. Michael, fifty-seven, hasn’t lived in Buffalo for close to thirty years, and relishes the trip home.