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I laid down on a bed of roses, I woke up lying on a bed of nails!

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That is the theme song from my current favorite Aussie show on Acorn, Bed of Roses, and I can’t get the lyrics and melody out of my head! Given this is a Thanksgiving week column, I should be listing my many blessings but instead I’ll give you a little heads up - if you haven’t experienced your own bed of nails, you will. No one escapes this life unscathed making those roses moments even sweeter.

Two events in my life, one early on and one later resulted in my own metamorphosis. The first was in 1960. One August Sunday night I laid down on that bed of roses that all children should have. You know, the one where you feel loved and safe? Monday morning, I woke up on that bed of nails. You see, my mother and I were just two of millions of Americans who participated in what they called Sabin Sunday, one of the three Sundays designated for receiving Albert Sabin’s “live” polio vaccine. Being good citizens and my mother deathly afraid of me contracting the paralyzing polio, she and I dutifully walked to Alamo Elementary and received the vaccine administered through a sugar cube.

Monday morning, the mother I knew for 13 years, no longer existed. Sunday night within 6-8 hours of receiving the polio vaccine, she began experiencing severe migraines and mental anguish. Monday, she was convinced she was losing her mind. She did – over and over and over again despite multiple hospitalizations. While I personally can’t prove a connection to the vaccine, she was diagnosed on one of those hospitalizations with thyroid disorders called Myxedema Madness and Hashimoto’s Disease. From that Sunday forward, she suffered physical weakness but more alarmingly, bouts of paranoia which plagued her into her 80s.

Obviously, our lives were never the same. The stress led to my father’s debilitating stroke at the young age of 54. Without strong parental guidance and living in this twilight zone of sorts, I engaged in some risky behavior as a teenager but got my act together when I became a parent myself. So, given my real-life experience with vaccines, spare me your admonitions and guilt-laced platitudes about the unvetted Covid vaccine. It will take a lot more than what you’ve got to convince me to take the jab!

Moving into the present of sorts, Thanksgiving is bittersweet for me. In 1968 I laid down on a bed of roses that Thanksgiving weekend when I married my husband, a good, honest, hard-working, ethical, handsome man with whom I created a much desired “normal” life. On Black Friday, Thanksgiving 2012, I woke up on that bed of nails when he died.

While the bed of nails deals with crisis, there is another term that involves nails – tough as nails. That expression dates back to the early 1800s, and it’s not surprising because those folks understood the harsh realities of life and what it took to survive. I can honestly say that from my numerous beds of nails in three quarters of a century of living, something positive - different maybe but positive - has always emerged from those painful experiences.

Covid has been the world’s bed of nails, and for some, the ability to embrace the bed of roses again will be slow to return but return it must. So this Thanksgiving, my wish for my city, county, state and republic is that this current bed of nails we find ourselves lying on will make us tough as nails and fuel our will to survive so that one day we’ll all lay down again in that glorious bed of roses!

Connie Clements is a freelance reporter for the Navasota Examiner and award-winning columnist. She writes feature news articles on a weekly basis and an opinion column as the mood strikes her.