I am sick today. Don’t panic, send prayers or call 911. I have a cold.
“Big deal,” all are likely to say.
Yes, but I have a cough too!
As I have aged I have noticed that men and women (in particular, fathers and mothers) have different experiences when they have colds. Specifically, men get to have them and women do not.
This plays out in homes all across the world I imagine. Last night it was our turn. That little tickle that had bothered me for a day or two evolved into a full blown cough and cold. I checked my wife: sleeping soundly. I needed medicine… and sympathy. I made what I thought was just enough noise to wake her when I went downstairs to get the Nyquil. But alas, she slept though it all.
A few hours later I was awakened by the din of Sunday morning at our house. On my way to the bathroom Gina noticed the unmistakable shuffle of the “husband with a cold” and said, “How you feelin’?”
I went deep into my nasal passages to muster, “Not too good.”
When I was very little, my mother would take my head in her lap and stroke my forehead, showing me extraordinary love and taking my temperature at the same time. Inevitably I would fall asleep in her lap.
Later, as I grew up a bit, my maladies were typically met with, “Man up,” “Tough it out,” and “How about I take you down to the Children’s Hospital and you can meet some kids who are really sick?” Eventually I became accustomed to going to school and working when I had a cold, flu, bronchitis, etc. I had a kidney stone once; was at work the next day.
These days it’s my wife who has the job of “petting my head”. I will sprawl on the couch, forehead extended, and in a very cocker spaniel-like way, offer to “let her” pet my head. For me, it is the tactile equivalent of chicken soup: It won’t make me better, but it couldn’t hurt! This act of selfless love offers her absolutely nothing. It remains a mystery as to why she chooses to do it. I would thank her profusely, yet before I will be able to, I will have fallen asleep in her lap.
My wife doesn’t seem to get to get sick. At least, I don’t remember the last time she was sick. Wait a minute… I’m sure she gets sick. She must, right? I just can’t remember any of those times.
Now that I think about it, I don’t remember my mom ever getting sick either.