I’m just coming off of the never-ending stomach bug from hell. One evening, while the littlest was siphoning off the only fluid my body had managed to retain (I wish I was kidding), I started thinking about all the times my mom has helped me when I’ve been sick.
When I was little (and not-so-little) my mom would always station me in her bed so I could put on the TV if I was feeling up to it. She would place a bucket next to the bed, with a little bit of water in the bottom, knowing that I was horrendous at actually making it to the toilet to throw up. Mom would bring me ginger ale and ice in a glass, with a spoon, so I could stir out all of the bubbles. She would make me chicken noodle soup. These are still the things I like when I’m sick. My very patient hubby, Eric, still even lets me throw up in a bucket (I can hear my mom scolding me, exaggerating the vowels in my name).
I learned young where my mom learned her skills from, when once while my parents were away, I had to wake my Grammy in the middle of the night after a nose bleed had covered my bed sheets. Despite (probably) being quite tired, she was kind and patient, and helped change the sheets and stop the nose bleed.
My favourite ‘sick’ memory is from when I was in grade three. My mom and dad had been away on vacation, and my Grammy was staying at our house. On the day my parents got home I didn’t get to see them before leaving for school. I waited until I thought they’d be home, and then I faked sick.
Once we were home, my mom called my Grammy, as she often did. I was lying in our family room, in the sun spot created by our sliding doors. I was enjoying the warmth of the sun on my skin when I heard my mom say, “Ashley’s home sick. I thought that she just wanted to come home because I’ve been away, but she must really be sick…. she’s sleeping on the floor in the family room.” The thing is, up to that point, my mom never made me feel like she knew I was faking. She took the time to take care of me even though she had suspected it was that I missed her, not that I was sick. There was no lecture about faking sick. I couldn’t even tell if my mom was even slightly annoyed that I faked sick to come home. On that day, in that moment, my mom gave me exactly what I needed: her love and time.
There is still a lot of sadness for me when I think of these memories, depending on the day sometimes crippling sadness, sometimes just a few tears. This memory had me really thinking about all the hours I saw my mom talk to my Grammy on the phone. I have always spent a lot of time on the phone with my mom, but I had assumed that I would have many more years of that. I expected afternoons with tea and shopping trips, just like my mom and Grammy had enjoyed. I expected to chat with mom on the phone when one of the girls was home sick from school. I expected more.
I expected more, and even though I believe that I am missing out on so much, when I think of these simple memories, I also know it to be true that my mom gave me everything.