Wednesday, February 01, 2012

My Own Angel of Mercy



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.

21 comments:

steven said...

pauline - the memories of care from childhood are the sweetest of all and set a standard that is rarey if ever matched in our adult experiencing. i am similarly beset with the narsty bug right now and am very much taking care of myself . . .no matter . . . like you i can think back to the care i got as a child and somehow it makes this much more bearable. steven

JeannetteLS said...

Pauline, this is beautiful. And brings me back, too.

And maybe some spirit managed to convey the vapo rub as you drifted off. The words you wrote are as beautiful as the sentiment.

Feel better,
Jeannette

Out on the prairie said...

That mothers comfort was always so nice. I remember being sick my 1st time away from home and not having that special touch. I hope you get feeling better.

Brian Miller said...

awww...love your little moment there at the end...those were the days...smiles...

Barbara Shallue said...

Such a beautiful telling of a sweet memory. I wouldn't be surprised if she was there, watching over you as you slept.

Barbara Shallue said...

Oh, I hope you feel better soon!!

Rubye Jack said...

Our mothers do teach us how to care for ourselves. They do it unknowingly because their thoughts are only in making us better, not teaching us future skills. But in making us better, they teach so very much to us.

red dirt girl said...

This is lovely, Pauline .... just lovely. And a testament to the joy of taking care of oneself, well. Thank you for the reminder (I tend to throw pity parties when I'm ill or depressed)

xxx

Pauline said...

Steven, my mother was the healing sort. It was her love that got us through the bad patches.

Jeannette - I hope the veil is thinner than we imagine...

OOTP - funny, I remember that experience too. I'm feeling much better, thanks

Brian - I might never want to relive my teen years but I'd be 6 again in a heartbeat

Barbara - I like that thought - both of them, actually - thanks :)

RJ - I so agree! We learn best by example.

RDG - I must learn to take better care of myself so I don't have to take of myself!

Barbara said...

Vicks VapoRub was my mother's cure for just about everything. To this day I can imagine its smell and I always think of her. I hope you feel better soon. I'm sure your soup helped the healing process!

Meggie said...

I hope you are well and healthy again! My Grandmother was carer when I was ill frequently, with tonsilitis. Once I could eat again, there was always scrambled eggs, and a cup of Milo, which is a little like cocoa.

danial franco said...

Hi,
I just wanna say that childhood will never back in life we had care of parents in that part of life..
Thesis Writing

Pauline said...

Barbara - soup always helps :)

Meggie - good on your Grandpa - whichever direction the care comes from, it's all good

Danial, childhood may never return but its memories, if they're good ones, can be comforting

Joanna Jenkins said...

What a beautiful memory-filled post. I sure hope you are feeling better.
xo jj

Pauline said...

Thanks JJ - slowly whatever it is is creeping away. I thought it was a mere cold but not so. I should have known. Working in a school gives one the chance to catch all manner of illnesses!

Tabor said...

I think one of the most important traits we need is to love ourselves as you do, because we deserve it!

Pauline said...

Tabor - yes we do!

Hilary said...

Lovely how your mother's care is still with you.. in yourself. Beautiful.

Molly said...

How did I miss this?

I hope you are much better by now...I remember the few occasions I was sick enough to warrant all that maternal pampering.....As you said, it was almost worth feeling so bad to be fussed and loved over so much!

Judith said...

Oh yes, Vicks Vapo-rub, the cure-all.
A lovely ending to a lovely account ---
and hope you are feeling well again.

Marion said...

This is heartwarming and beautiful, Pauline...it takes me back to my childhood. And wonders of wonders, we had a little green wooden bed table too, with little legs that folded up when not in use. It had a small painting of flowers on one side. I still have it somewhere, I think.

I've since read that Vicks does no good at all. I wonder if the person who wrote that article ever had a mom who used it on him when he was sick, because I KNOW it works! haha xx