Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Winter Cold

What is it about winter illness that makes one want to just cuddle up under a warm blanket, sip a vanilla soy latte (me) or herbal tea or hot chocolate and then shut out the rest of the world?

And what makes the winter cold more gross than the summer cold? Do the flu viruses and cold viruses just watch for that first frost to descend like gang-busters on unsuspecting victims? Are they quiet partners and shareholders of all the orange juice, Kleenex, and Vicks Vapor Rub companies? Do they have a lock on the Mrs. Meyers Lavender Cleaners, Viva papertowels, and O'Cello sponges?

My family is sick. From the top to the bottom. The only one spared the sniffles, sneezes, and spasmodic coughs have been Joshua and Keziah. Maybe there is a special fortitude in the youngest son and the youngest daughter. He is at school today and she is dancing while I am surrounded by my linebacker-sized husband who became ill late last night, and my first-grade daughter home for a second day from school.

I thought this morning that perhaps I am a reverse sexist. I don't believe in men being sick. There, I've been outed. I think, like Michelle Robinson Obama's dad, that there was a strength in the men of a prior generation. My dad was like a door with his 6'4" frame. He was always constantly in pain and never missed a day of work, even while in a head-to-stomach cast from a neck operation. He was in bed working on projects and telephoning his office. Sometimes I think he was the pioneer of telecommuting! Daddy also suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and a mini-pharmacy set of pills he had to take daily. He had to get up early in the morning and often endure long road trips despite mind-numbing pain. This was my example growing up.

Imagine my attitude this morning, yes, attitude, when I woke up to find my husband half comatose on the living room sofa. There was a glass of water and a bucket next to him, I didn't want to know what was waiting in the downstairs bathroom.

I donned plastic gloves, grabbed paper towels, sponges, and cleaners. I scrubbed down the bathrooms, took a shower, made him some bath water and went downstairs to prepare rice. He and the first-grade daughter caught the ugly side of the cold virus. I just had the sneezes, the voice like a frog, and the accompanying chills, none of the mountain-shaking science experiments they had.

The day will proceed with him at home alternately sipping water, eating rice,and entertaining the girls. I'm sure he will be on the mend tomorrow. And I will bring him tea. I repent of my sexist ways, I guess men can get sick also and could use a little tenderness.

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