Mothers with children at home cannot, must not, and absolutely should not ever get sick. It is not in the Great Plan, the balance of the Universe. No matter what, at all costs, the march must go forth without interruption--or else. The alternative is the dreaded consequence of unwashed dishes, piles of laundry, towels and socks on the floor, even a dog whining for dinner and a walk. This is not to say spouses can't pitch in, or that children don't help out. But something goes off kilter in the home when Mom is in bed.
This last week brought back memories of my bedridden mother when I was about five years old; she had cornea transplant surgery and was to be completely still for several weeks. (Fortunately the procedure is now done almost painlessly). All I had from Saturday night to Wednesday was an intestinal flu, but my helplessness undoubtedly scared my teenage daughters. They would be surprised to hear it scared me even more. Grace was out of town for a cheerleading competition over the weekend, so Miss Meredith was required to step in as Nurse Meredith and Taxi Driver Meredith. What a great job she did with both duties.
People in our families never seem to get sick when it fits into the routine. I remember so many crazy and unexpected illnesses when my kids were young. Each one of them has taken a turn or two to completely change our plans due to a health crisis. Parents are equipped to deal with this. When the tables are turned, it's not so easy to for children and teenagers. I remember tiptoeing around the house after my mom had her eye surgery and she would ring a little brass bell whenever she needed help. This week I was wishing I had a bell or something, like a hospital buzzer to call for my little helper. She kept checking on me, especially on the worst day when I thought the bug would never leave me.
It's not easy to forget yourself when you're seventeen. There are class assignments to complete, friends to text, and Facebook pages to update. Remembering the old lady at the other end of the house, and trying to figure out something that she might be able to digest, would probably be last on the list. It takes a certain level of compassion and maturity to see another's need. Thanks to Meredith's care and concern this week, I was never forgotten.
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