It is amazing how the day starts out just like any other day and then, bang! Your plans totally change…
After a late meeting in Milwaukee, I called my college-aged son, Jimmy, to see if I could buy him food before heading home. Usually this is a sure-fire way to have one-on-one time with him.
A groggy, “Hello,” came over the phone. “What’s up, Mom?”
“Do you want to go get some food before I head home? I don’t have a lot of time, but we could drive through somewhere.”
“Naw, I’m sick again, Mom.” Jimmy had been sick the week with gastrointestinal flu. Really sick. The sick for which a 20-something kid calls his mom and says, “Can I come home?”
My brows knit together. “Are you OK? Do you need anything? Have you kept anything down?” I could feel the tension growing in my shoulders.
“Yes, but I haven’t really eaten anything all day. I’ve just been laying in bed. It was too far away. I haven’t been able to make anything.”
“Do you need anything?” I asked. “You don’t sound very well,” I added,hoping my anxiety wasn’t creeping into my voice.
“Could you bring me some Gatorade? Yellow,” he added.
“Sure, I’ll run to the grocery and then drive back down to Milwaukee.” Turning the steering wheel to the right, the car veered onto the exit ramp…
“Twenty, five, and 47 cents,” the clerk at the Piggly Wiggly said, handing me my change.
Beep! Beep! Beep! Digging in my purse, my fingers grabbed my phone. “Hi, Jim. I’m almost done. I bought applesauce, bananas, Tylenol, frozen waffles…” I bought anything I thought a touchy stomach could handle and that was ready-made or easy to make.
“Mom, can you come get me?” asked his gravely voice.
“I’ll be there in about 10, 15 minutes.”
As Jimmy emerged from his apartment doorway, I gasped. The big, black shadows under his eyes were in sharp contrast to his pasty-white face and red lips. My heart squeezed in my chest. Oh my gosh, he looks terrible, way sicker than I thought. When he was settled in the car, I kissed his forehead. This is my very reliable mom-thermometer. He’s burning up. “You need to take these Advil right now,” I said, handing him his yellow Gatorade and 3 pills. Swallowing them, he put his head back on the headrest. In a few minutes, I heard deep breathing.
So today, putting the dishes in the rack, I thought, “Routines are comforting. Only, this isn’t a Thursday routine, this is a Saturday routine.” Instead of a faculty meeting, coaching visits, writer’s workshop, and answering a never-ending string of emails, I am nursing my son, scheduling appointments, chauffeuring to the doctor’s office, picking up prescriptions, and having the blessed opportunity to love up on, to mother, my almost-grown son.
Postscript: Jim has Influenza A.