Finding Alice

What I Can't Help But Say

Painting by Linda Weinstock

Once upon a time there was a grandmother who lived one long nap away from her two adorable granddaughters – a big sister who was almost old enough for Kindergarten and a little sister who was only two but could ride a scooter really fast.  

Grandma would drive through heavy traffic to see those girls, even for just a short visit. Sometimes the sisters and their parents would drive through heavy traffic to spend the night at Grandma’s house, go out to morning coffee, then swing and slide at the park.

Then everything changed.

The grownups called it a pandemic. The big sister called it ‘The Germ.’ Scientists said it looked like a pokey ball with crowns on top of lots of little arms. But to everyone else it was invisible. It lurked on doorknobs, counter tops, shopping carts and even on the swings and slides at the park.

The boss of all the scientists, Dr. Grouchy, said that until they invented a medicine to keep everyone safe from ‘The Germ,’ families who didn’t live under the same roof shouldn’t hold hands, kiss, or even hug.

Not even hug.

Dr. Grouchy said they could visit at a “Social Distance” of six feet or more. Whose foot? Grandma’s? Certainly not the little sister’s foot. Not even the big sister’s foot, even though she was almost ready for Kindergarten and her feet had outgrown her shoes.

Grandma was very sad. She hated the words, “Social Distance.” And not even hug? Grandma loved hugging more than pizza from Giorgio’s on Clement, even more than morning coffee made by someone else. Grandma was not sure she could visit without hugging.

That would be hard.

Grandma lay in bed at night dreaming of ways to be near the two sisters. She could buy twelve purple balloons and some green tissue paper from the Dollar Store to make a grape costume, then hide in the vineyard near their cottage.

Maybe she could transform herself into a small yellow backpack, her arms strapped snug and tight around the big sister’s shoulders. Or maybe she could turn into a pink and purple floatie buckled around the little sister’s tummy to keep her safe in cool water on a hot summer day.

Oh Wait! A dog costume! Dogs disobeyed the six-foot rule all the time. That was so crazy, it just might work.

Grandma decided to share her ideas with the girls. The big sister was very smart, so smart that she could count all the way to 100. She rolled her eyes, smiled and said, “Oh, Grandma! You’re kidding!”  The big sister knew they had to follow the rules. They would need to wait a hundred sleeps before they could hug again.

The little sister was also very smart but could only count to 12. When Grandma, Grumpy and wonderful Aunt Emmy would come for an outside Social Distance visit, the little sister would run fast toward Aunt Emmy. But her mother would scoop her up before she could get there.

This made the little sister so sad that she would go stand in a corner all alone, her back to the family. This made everyone sad, even though the grownups knew the little sister would not even remember ‘The Germ’ and Social Distancing once the pandemic was over, except for in the memories that come from family stories told again and again.

That night Grandma dreamed about being a handmade quilt the family could use for a 4th of July picnic or to wrap the sisters’ mother tight like a burrito when she was tired at the end of a day and needed a mother’s hug.  She dreamed about hiding in a big cardboard box with a red bow and popping out to surprise the big sister on her birthday. She dreamed about a candy costume at Halloween. (A witch might be too scary.) A feathered turkey costume for Thanksgiving? A red Santa suit?

Out of the question. Grandma knew the little sister had been afraid to sit on Santa’s lap.

No. Grandma would have to wait. How many sleeps? More than 100. Even more than 200. Before Grandma could dream about bunny and basket costumes, she heard Dr. Grouchy say that ‘The Germ’ might stay until after Easter.


But Grandma knew for sure that one day, many sleeps from now, she would hear Dr. Fauchi (turns out Grandma had been hearing his name wrong this whole time) say, “It’s ok! We have the medicine! No more Social Distancing. Permission to HUG!”

And on that day Grandma would drive through heavy traffic as fast as was safe, jump from her car, run faster than a scooter, open the gate and scoop up both sisters at once into her arms. She would squeeze them so tight they would wiggle and try to get down. She would hug even tighter and tell them she was going to squeeze them until they popped!

The little sister would laugh out loud. The big sister would smile, roll her eyes, and say, “Oh Grandma. You’re kidding!”

The End

6 thoughts on “The Germ: A Children’s Story

  1. Rita says:

    Wonderful story Alice! Love it!!❤❤❤

  2. Courtenay Davis says:


    Courtenay 510-333-1049


  3. sfsusan says:

    I love your story! A sweet and touching reminder about taking care of the ones we love.

  4. Renee Sheehan says:

    What a lovely, timely story, Alice! Virtual hug to you!

  5. Janice Wilkes says:

    😕 Soon Alice, soon ❤️❤️❤️ sending many virtual hugs!

  6. Chris Bailey says:

    Heartbreaking. I didn’t think of 100 sleeps or more til now. 😦 Poor Grammy! This is HARD! Sending virtual hug!

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