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STEVE FLORES: COVID-19 and a black widow spider

Steve Flores column mug

Californian community columnist Steve Flores.

My wife, Susie, and I returned home from a not too common mom-and-dad-only date night. When we arrived home our young children, Nikki, Brenna, Sean and Aaron, were sound asleep cuddled up in their favorite cozy spots in our living room. Twins Sean and Aaron were barely visible stretched out on our living room floor underneath their pillows and San Francisco 49’er and Oakland Raider blankets. Brenna seemed to have completely melted into our ottoman. If not for her feet sticking out from beneath her “E.T” sleeping bag, we would have completely missed her.

Our oldest daughter, Nikki, was also sound asleep on the couch in her cocoon of blankets, pillows and her “Rob” Cabbage Patch doll. The soft glow of the living room light fell on her as though she were posing for the cover of “Teenage Daughters Who are Perfect When they are Sleeping” magazine. I couldn’t resist quietly walking up to her to give her a butterfly kiss on her rosy cheek. As I approached her, I saw something climb from the darkness between the couch cushions. It was a slow-moving black widow spider.

My panicked father memory says the size of the spider matched that of the ancient Nephila Jurassic spider. The spider sped up and quickly crawled onto Nikki’s chest and then stopped. I froze for a millisecond as I blinked my eyes to focus and make sure I wasn’t seeing a piece of lint or a small toy. Like your fingers tapping on a table, the spider’s long legs were moving up and down to sense its surroundings. It didn’t move but sat on her chest looking directly at Nikki’s exposed face. Nikki lay perfectly still and remained sound asleep.

As the spider took a slow and gradual first steps toward Nikki’s neck, I reached for my handkerchief and as fast as I could, plucked it off her chest and squeezed. I am an animal rights activist and would never intentionally harm any of God’s miracle creations … except for a black widow spider heading toward my sleeping child’s head.

I know I need therapy, and I am reluctant to admit the absolute pleasure I received when I sent the spider to a better life. As I gently squeezed the life out of the spider, I felt I served my primary Dad responsibility. If there would have been a horse in my living room, I would have been on it and reared it back waving my hat in celebration of protecting my child.

All our children, including Nikki, slept through the entire but quick spider ordeal. Thank goodness Susie didn’t see a thing. A scream from her would have awoken everyone and sent panic through our living room and surely scurried the black widow spider to who knows where.

I am glad Susie nudged me to come home early that evening. She was proof that a mother’s instinct is far superior to that of any spider.

As for me, I have recounted the spider incident many times in my mind over the years. It is sort of a self-metaphor for what I see as my number one role with my children ... to always protect them.

As for protecting my children, COVID-19 is my new black widow spider crawling on my family’s chest. As it continues to wrap its tentacles around our community, I worry I’m unable to protect all who I love.

The COVID-19 dominoes have sadly begun to fall around my large family. I am hesitant to answer a call from my sister fearing the sad news that another family member has tested positive.

I recently read an interesting Facebook post.

The post read in part, “The choice to wear a mask is definitely yours to make. If you choose not to wear one, you should agree to sign a ‘Do Not Treat Me When I Become COVID-19 Infected’ form.”

I wish I could grab COVID-19 and squeeze the life out of it like I did to that black widow spider.

I am not a doctor, nor a politician, so please do not look to me for COVID-19 advice. But I am a Dad who does all I can to protect my family.

I know you do too.

Email contributing columnist Steve Flores at floressteve32@yahoo.com. His work appears here every third Monday; the views expressed are his own.