Letter to the Editor: Why I Wear My Mask

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A letter from Kody Brandes
Loveland, Colorado

My daughter and I were recently in Wal-Mart to purchase a few basic necessities. We were rudely asked by an associate, why we were wearing our ridiculous masks. Unfortunately, this happens more often than the gracious looks do, so let me tell you something… I am the tailor for northern Colorado law enforcement agencies. I have officers and EMT’s in my home on a weekly basis and I am in their facilities. I have officers who respond when YOU call 911. They respond to the sad, the sick, and the suicidal. They respond to the desperate and despondent. They respond to the hurt and the hurting. They will be there when YOU need them, and they will be wearing their masks to protect YOU.  My daughter spends her nights decontaminating and sterilizing ambulances after living (and dead) positive COVID-19 patient transports. She does this so that when YOU, God forbid, fall sick or injured, YOU can rest assured that YOUR transport will be as safe as possible. My son-in-law is the manager of a large grocery chain where the threats from selfish idiots to “come in and blow this place up” after being told that the limit is one gallon of milk per customer, is common. He must constantly keep his staff and YOUR shopping experience a safe environment. My sister spends her early mornings, making sure that the toilet paper you buy is priced correctly and will jump in with her crippled, arthritic hands, and help bag and check so that YOU don’t have to stand in line or be exposed to potential health risks longer than YOU have to be. My uncle, God rest his soul, was a large sea-faring tar of a man. He was healthy-looking, hale and sturdy with a full head of silver wavy hair and a stereotypical captain’s beard. He had a loud raucous voice and a boisterous laugh that you could hear 3 aisles away as he enjoyed a good politically incorrect joke. On the outside he looked like a character straight out of Ernest Hemingway’s ‘The Old Man and the Sea’.  On the inside, he was soupy mess of cancer.  A simple sneeze from me could easily kill him or someone in his position, though you would NEVER know from the outside that he was so devastatingly ill.  WE. WEAR. OUR. MASKS. FOR. YOU!

We understand that it is your choice, your prerogative, your right to NOT wear a mask, but understand this. WE do not wear our masks to protect US. We wear our masks to protect YOU. Drs, nurses, first responders, lab technicians and the countless others that are working on the frontlines during this unprecedented pandemic, look AMAZINGLY like normal, every day, people when they are not in uniform, in a lab coat, in their marked cars, or working behind the counter of an ‘essential’ business. So, when you march on Capitol Hill in Denver with your cute little signs that say “MY BODY MY DECISION” with a picture of a mask with a line through it…you are only half correct.…correct in that it IS YOUR DECISION, but you are incorrect when you claim that it is YOUR body. In actuality, YOU wearing a mask, protects ME. In fact, I have already made the decision to protect YOUR body. Don’t worry, I’m not writing to instill common sense into you, if there were any, there wouldn’t be a reason for me to write this. You will do what you are going to do and I and mine will do what we are going to do, which is, opt to continue to protect YOU!

I wear my mask for my granddaughter, 4 months on this crazy earth, whom I get to visit from the step outside her home and who sees me turn away from her when she reaches for me to hold her, because I don’t want her to see my tears, as my eyes are the only thing she can see.  I wear my mask for my 6-year-old granddaughter who is in kindergarten and experiencing “the worst first year of school EVER in her whole life”. But let me tell you, that little girl does not leave the safety of her home, but she rocks her designer mask decked out with lace and rhinestones (we could all learn a lesson from her on the ownership of what is right and wrong in the mask-wearing protocol). I wear my mask for my 11-year-old granddaughter who misses ‘kids night out’ with her friends, and the state soccer games she should be enjoying on sunny Saturday afternoons and is having to comfort her best friend through texts and emails after the sudden and unexpected death of her daddy. Need I iterate that texts and emails do not replace the importance of a consolatory shoulder to cry on, and a reassuring hug. I wear my mask for my 9-year-old grandson who can’t safely have the ever-important hugs and cuddles from his mommy because she is cleaning ambulances FOR YOUR SAFETY, while you are protesting your right to NOT wear a mask. He misses his friends and just wants to “hold the door for the girls again”. I wear my mask, NOT FOR MYSELF, but for these loved ones AND FOR YOU!

I would ask, that when you see us in a store, wearing a mask…. Since you don’t know our back story or what we may have had to do last night to KEEP YOU SAFE, don’t ask us why we ARE wearing it, and we won’t ask why YOU’RE NOT! I will leave you with the following thought to ponder…

If you see me, my daughter, son-in-law, my sister, any of us, in a shopping situation while you are holding your basket of  ‘essential’ Pepperidge Farms Lady Fingers, your ‘essential’ latest edition of the National Enquirer and your ‘essential’ bag of balloons and looking down your uncovered nose at us, if you just HAVE to comment, rest assured that we will be happy to remove our masks, voraciously and vigorously clear our throats, we won’t cover our mouths because that was the cause of your uproar to begin with and we wouldn’t want to FURTHER offend you. We will lean in real close and say, “WE WEAR OUR MASKS FOR YOU!!”  Better yet, for your sake, as your brain is contemplating asking a question that could deem you insensitive and idiotic, please don’t open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Kody Brandes

sew’s’well

Loveland CO

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