Sickness or Health

23 Nov

I have the Fidel Castro of head colds. It will not die, relent or change course. It’s hanging on for dear life, and making me cranky, tired and just plain irritable.

As an outgrowth of this cold, I have a pulled muscle in my neck from sneezing. You heard that right.

When I get sick, and I’m grumpy and having trouble dealing with my children, I have a hard time imagining my mother sick from a chemo treatment dealing with me. I asked my Dad how she did it, and he just shrugged and said ‘She was a tough cookie’.

She was. She would have to be. While I’m laid out sniffling and feeling sorry for myself, I try and imagine the kind of strength it would have taken to deal with a whining 7 or 9 year old girl, or even just a normal little girl, who wants to do things and go places.

A friend of my mother’s told me that we were inseparable, that my mother took me everywhere, that she loved me. And she did. She’d take me with her to chemo treatments when really, she could have left me with my brother. In light of the fact that I’d get horrible car sick, maybe she should have. We’d go shopping, we’d go sit in the cafeteria in the store my father ran, I with ginger ale or chocolate milk and a muffin, her with coffee.

We’re not so dissimilar now. I can merge myself into her, into that mothering concept of blending your child into your life. I can sit in her shoes and wonder about tomorrow, wonder what it might bring if I’m not there. She had the agony of hope then, as I do too about my disease. Mine isn’t as misplaced as hers was though.

I often wonder where she found the strength to fight for so long, if it’s because we’re adopted, and her struggle for kids made her want to stay here even harder, or if she was just plain old stubborn and didn’t want to listen to what the doctors wanted to tell her. I get sick and I barely have the strength to hang out with my kids, who generally have no sense of when to shut the hell up because someone is sick. Where did she find hers?

I wonder too, if she knew I’d end up thinking she was one of the strongest and bravest people I’d ever know, or if she worried I wouldn’t know her at all. She would have had so many memories of me, while I have so few and fleeting memories of her.

4 Responses to “Sickness or Health”

  1. Hannah November 23, 2007 at 9:08 am #

    You started off making me giggle… “the Fidel Castro of colds”… that’s quality. And ended in making me think, as you so often do.

    I always feel guilty when I just don’t have the energy to mother Isaac in the way I would like, because of colds or the pregnancy or whatever. And then I think of moms, like yours, who really had to go the extra mile.

    Lovely post.

  2. bine November 23, 2007 at 9:22 am #

    aaaaah, sorry, i know this is a pretty serious post, but i can’t stop giggling about the fidel castro of head colds. your own fault. eh … what’s the opposite of a head cold? breast cold? my head is okay, but i’ve been coughing and wheezing away all week. thyme tea works for me (for the head colds, too). and ginger. well, you know that.
    your mother must have been so amazingly strong. and stubbornness helps a lot. i don’t know why stubbornness is generally regarded a bad attribute. i think it’s a good quality. and it often goes together with strength and persistence.

  3. marcelarhodus November 23, 2007 at 9:07 pm #

    your post was written for me today, I still feel sick and weak myself… I’m sorry you have this Fidel Castro cold (I so plan to quote you on that one, it’s brilliant!).
    try chamomile tea, I know it’s silly, but if nothing else, it’s warm and feels good to your chest. my mom used to cure all ailments with chamomile tea.

    As I was reading the post I was thinking to myself the same you are, how do people get the energy to move and act as nothing when you’re physically feeling so down. Where do you gather the strenght from? I’d say her love for her family, for you is where she fed from, stubborness definetely is a good thing, does not let you give up.

    I’m thinking of your mother right now, and I’m trying to follow her example and pull myself together and smile for my kids. so need to today.

  4. Bon November 24, 2007 at 3:40 pm #

    i’m late to this, but moved. and giggling about the Castro cold. it is so hard to patiently parent when miserable…oy.

    hope you’re better.

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