I was sick with a cold most of last week and have just come back to the land of the living.
At the first sign of my cold Miss Cathy started to hover, trying to mother me but I shoo-ed her away with my best, “It’s only a cold”, telling her that I’d be fine once it’d run it’s course. After all, it was only just a cold. I’m lucky that I’m in reasonable health and not plagued by the usual maladies, aches and pains that a lot of my contemporaries have.
After all, I’m fifty-two and that is an age where the body starts to betray us if we’re not careful.
I’m used to living alone and this was the first time in a lonnnng time that someone has been around to witness every sniffle and see the trail of discarded, crumpled, pieces of toilet paper that I use to blow my nose and leave wadded up in my room on tabletops, the bed, the desk or any other surface I happen to be near at the time, stopping to picks them up much later when they look like faded, white flowers littering my bedroom.
Disgusting I know but that’s ‘single person’ behavior-when you live alone (no matter how fastidious, neat and tidy one might be otherwise) a cold is when (for me anyway) my inner “Oscar Madison” comes out (the slob half of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple”).
I don’t think I’d been sick around my mother since I was a teenager so I’d forgotten how she behaves. In the last year I’d grown accustomed to my role of taking care of her so it was odd to be in a position where she was back in her role as caregiver to me.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with having Miss Cathy take care of me, what adult doesn’t like to return to childhood (if only for a moment) and be doted on by a parent, taking you back to the days when you didn’t have a care in the world and you knew because you were sick that whatever you wanted only had to be asked for.
But, life as I know it is now is focused on me taking care of her and (hopefully) making her days as carefree as possible.
Besides, what was okay at six or even sixteen isn’t as easy to accept on this side of life, that awkward age when at fifty-two you’re no longer middle aged (how many one hundred and four year olds do you know?) and you’re not quite “old” –yet, and your seventy three year old mother is futzing with your pillows and insisting that you eat and drink when all you want to do is curl up into a ball and die (in between blowing your brains out into toilet paper).
Add to that Miss Cathy bringing me concoctions like hot tea with orange juice. After I took a few sips of the god awful brew I asked her what was in the tea and she replied, “I didn’t have any lemons so I added the orange juice because you know, orange juice is good for you when you have a cold.”
Ye, I agree. But not together-hot!
Then there were the times that she woke me up-just to make sure that I was sleeping (as apposed too?….I know I’m her baby boy and everything but the possibility of me being a victim of SIDS is long past.)
And there was the trepidation I’d feel whenever she’d come into my room with a tray carrying a bowl of “Chicken soup”. I could never be quite sure what she may have added to the broth-it’s not like I was expecting dead rat over rice under the cloche like in “What ever happened to Baby Jane?” but still, there were some questionable ingredients in her soups-like whole cloves of garlic (to open up my sinuses or to ward off vampires I guess) and in the same bowl there might be noodles and rice-starch much?!
But, I drank her tea (or as much as I could stomach) and I ate the food that she brought me because I could see that she was enjoying the role-reversal-and believe me without her help I probably would have been sicker a lot longer. I think she felt good to be back in charge and not the person waiting for their pills, meals or to be helped in the bathroom.
For a few days she got to be who she used to be for me; my protector, provider and confidant and I gotta say, that was worth a few sniffles.