When I was a small child and fell ill with a cold, my mother would ensconce me in her big bed, pile the pillows behind me so I could breathe more easily and bring my meals to me there on a large tray. The tray was placed on a bed table painted a cheery green. It had cunning little folding legs and a raised edge to keep dishes from sliding off. The whole affair was placed over my lap which was spread first with a bath towel to catch spills. Always there was a poached egg and freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast, a bowl of homemade chicken soup for lunch. As she went about her household chores, she would stop by my bed to rest a cool hand on my hot forehead. In the evening, she would spread Vicks VapoRub on a flannel cloth and place it on my chest. A bit of Vasoline was rubbed under my nose to ease the sting of too much blowing. I would be tucked back into my own freshly made bed and kissed goodnight. It was almost worth getting sick just to enjoy the fuss.
Now when I get sick I must take care of myself. I must make my own soup, freshen my own bed, squeeze my own orange juice. To this end, I keep a supply of chicken stock in the freezer made from boiling the carcass after a meal of roast chicken. I line-dry my sheets, even in winter, so when they are spread on the bed they smell of fresh air and sunshine. I keep my charming orange painted orange juice squeezer at hand; a quick slice with the knife, a quick press of the handle, and voila! freshly squeezed juice. The bed table is long gone but I still have the large tray Mama used when I was young.
Yesterday I hauled my sick self out of tangled bed sheets, warmed some broth, peeled and sliced carrots, put my coat and boots on for the trek to the garage freezer for the remaining garden peas, cooked some noodles and made my own soup. I cut and squeezed two fresh oranges, made toast from the last of the homemade bread, remade the bed with sweet smelling sheets, piled the pillows high, and climbed back under the covers. There was no one to fuss, no one to wait on me except me, but I swear, as I drifted off to sleep in a waft of Vicks VapoRub, that I felt a cool hand on my forehead and a feathery light kiss on my cheek.