By Lori Clinch
Back in the day when our sons were young and they were sick, I did my level best to nurse them back to health. I canceled appointments, rearranged my schedule and stood guard as I tended to their every need.
“Get some rest,” I would tell them as I kissed their brow, “and remember, Mommy loves!”
But things were altogether different when the flu bug invaded my body. With my throat swollen shut and my eyes feeling like sandpaper, I surrendered my duties and headed to the couch.
I would swallow a cap full of nighttime cold medicine, pile the blankets up to my chin and then properly smear an abundance of mentholatum on my nose. I’m quite certain I was a vision of loveliness.
As my young charges filed in the front door from their various activities, they would stop to gaze upon me. I would lay there wishing that instead of staring, one of them would bring me a glass of water.
“What is that?” I once heard my eldest son inquire as he pointed in my sickly direction.
“I think it’s Mom,” said my second in line.
“What? Is she like sick or something?”
“I’ll bet she’s faking.”
“Why would she fake? It’s not like she has to go to school or anything.”
Just then the second in line placed a hand on my forehead, turned it over for confirmation and said, “Well, she doesn’t have a fever, so I’ll bet she’s faking.”
Like he could determine whether I had a fever. Up until that moment his medical knowledge had been limited to Band-Aid placement.
Just then my youngest child appeared at my side with a look of sympathy in his eyes.
“Are you sick, Mom?” he asked with love. He then patted my arm, pulled my blankets up tight and looking like the little angel he was, he placed his little hand on my face. “Oh, you are hot,” he said as he shook his head with sympathy. “Just wait right here and I’ll go and get some stuff to fix you.” Never to be seen again.
“Mom,” said Lawrence, my darling No. 3 son, “you promised we could finish up my Invent America project tonight. I’ve laid out all of the supplies, mapped out the details, now I just need you to come and do the cutting. Oh! And you might have to glue some stuff.”
Needless to say, they weren’t exactly the Nurse Nightingales of their era. Yet, if I learned one thing from them it was this: being sick wasn’t for the faint at heart.
These days my young charges are out of the nest and tending to their own sniffles. Still, I am approaching this year’s flu season with great trepidation. After all, it is no fun being sequestered on the couch if no one is going to feel your forehead before downplaying your illness.
I’m doing my best to avoid the bug. In fact, just yesterday, when the gal at the deli turned and sneezed into the air, I mentally let out an “Oh no you didn’t!”
When my sister lamented about her recent bout with a head cold (after a heartwarming hug, mind you) I stocked up on vitamin C.
Yet it was Terrie, the little gal who works with me in our antique shop, who had me shaking in my flu boots.
“I need to go home,” she said out of the blue. “I have aches and pains, nausea, fatigue, and feelings of general malaise.”
Malaise, there is simply nothing worse.
“Oh, girl,” I replied. I truly do adore her, but if something is catchy, I don’t want it. I didn’t pray, “Take her, O Lord, if you must, but spare me!” But I thought about it.
“You’ve got to go,” I told her. “No need for explanation or a warm feely hug. Just grab your garb and get. Take your flu and go.”
Call me insensitive if you must, but I am quite certain that once she was home her husband made her some soup. I am sure her children gazed upon her with love and helped her smear mentholatum on her nose.
Most of all, I hope that nobody wanted her to glue some stuff in the middle of her illness.
If so, afflict her O Lord, but please spare me.
Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.