Today, the little portable side table has been unfolded. It is next to the arm of the couch and has Brown Betty, our little brown teapot; a small sugar bowl and spoon on it. Next to that is the box of tissues, tied to it's leg is a small garbage bag. I check on the teapot's level every so often, to make sure there is enough tea in it. We are forcing fluids.
"Mommy, would you cook me some oatmeal?" she asks. Mommy? She hasn't called me "mommy" in years. I know she is feeling sick, weak and vulnerable. I go to the kitchen and make her some hot oatmeal. I know exactly how long to cook it so it's the consistency that she likes.
I can't help thinking about the different ways we take care of our sick family members. My mom was a RN before she married and she worked in the hospital. Whenever we got sick, she put us in isolation. Our roommate would be moved out and into another siblings room for the duration of our illness. No visitors. My mom believed in one atmosphere, so we stayed in our room. In those days, most families had one tv, and it was in the livingroom. Therefore, we didn't watch tv when we were sick, we either read books, played with some quiet toy, or slept. We were given an old school bell to ring if we needed anything, but pretty much were left alone.
My mother's mom, my Meme, was not an RN and she had a whole other approach to a sick child. She lived in a two story house and was in her late 60's when grandchildren began to make their appearances. So when I got a cold while staying at her house, she told me to lay down on her couch. She put a little tv table next to me with a box of tissues and a book she had picked out for me. We listened to her radio programs together while she did her housework. When I got bored with listening, I read the book. My grandmother was always picking up new books she thought we'd like to read when we came for a visit. Then she bought in hot chicken noodle soup for lunch. About 1pm, she put another heavy blanket over me, and put a heavy sweater on herself. Then she opened all the house windows "to air out the place." Her thoughts were that the freezing air would either blow the germs out the windows, or freeze them to death. After about an hour of that, she closed the windows and made us a pot of tea accompanied by some Stella Dora cookies. For supper, she made me a bowl of tomato soup with a chunk of Velveeta cheese in it accompanied by these large round crackers that were called "moon crackers." I've looked around for them as an adult, and I can't find them. ~sigh!~
My method of taking care of the sick is mostly like my grandmother, I guess. I figure that by the time you find out someone is sick, the germs are throughout the house and most of the family has the germs already, so I put them on the couch where I can keep a sharp eye on them. I force fluids like warm tea or warm lemon water with honey.
They feel warm, snuggled and cared for. And just for that day (or days), they remember being a child.
Pictures of radio and Cambellsoup do NOT belong to Mary Bennett. Picture of teapot and sugar are Copyright2010 Mary Bennett