I was in the kitchen. Max was dozing on a lounge chair by the pool when I heard a sneeze and then another sneeze.
“Sylvieeeeeeeee!” Max called weakly. “Could you come here?”
Oh, no. Please don’t tell me Max is starting a cold. I’ve been through this before and I would rather a meteor hit the earth.
Please don’t tell me Max is starting a cold. I’ve been through this before and I would rather a meteor hit the earth.
He only calls me that when he’s sick. I went to him.
“Feel my forehead,” he said, eyes closed and arms limply hanging over the sides of the chair. “I’m burning up with fever.”
I put my hand on his forehead. “You are warm.”
“Sylvieeeeeeeeee,” please get the thermometer. I feel too weak to walk to the bathroom.”
I did as I was asked. After 5 minutes, I took the thermometer out of his mouth.
“101 degrees F.” I said.
He sat up. “That high? I need to get to bed right away.”
I rolled my eyes. “Would you like me to get a wheelchair?’
“That’s not necessary. Let me put my arm around your shoulders and you can guide me.”
We were at the bed in 30 seconds.
He coughed. “Bring me my p.j.’s. I’m weak but I can undress myself.”
I was putting a 70-year old child to bed. “You’re very brave, Max dear.”
He was under the covers. “Sylvieeeee – the blanket hurts my ankles.”
“What would you like me to do?”
“Roll it up to above the ankles. Oh! That’s much better! And Sylvieeee, get me the little silver dinner bell in case of an emergency.”
From then on it was bringggggggg!
“Make me some hot lemon water and be sure to take out all the pits.”
“This damp facecloth feels rough. Are you sure it’s 100% Egyptian cotton?”
“Could you make me some chicken soup? Use a ruler when you’re cutting up the chicken – 1 ½ inch cubes.”
“I’d like freshly squeezed orange juice. Make sure they’re Valencia.”
“Go to the pharmacy and buy me a bottle of that cough medicine.”
“The one that knocks you out?”
I bought two.
I wanted to shove that bell into a place where I knew it wouldn’t ring.
His temperature did go up a degree the next day but it was nothing to write to the medical journals about.
“I’m not getting better, am I?”
“You’re doing fine.”
“I’m so glad we updated our wills.”
“Don’t be dramatic! It’s only a cold.”
“I’m sinking fast. Tell Bobo and Cutlass I’d like to see them one last time.”
“Cut it out, Max!”
“You just don’t understand, do you?”
“And I never will. Now go to sleep. You’ll be fine in the morning.”
For three days, he lay in bed alternately sleeping and watching cooking shows on TV while I made him his favorite sick foods – rice pudding, mashed potatoes with gravy, homemade pistachio ice cream, home baked cinnamon bread.
On the fourth day, he came to the kitchen freshly showered, wearing regular clothes. He leaned against the doorjamb. I was scribbling in a note pad.
“Ah, he rises!”
“Don’t make fun Sylvie. I’m still weak but the crisis passed. Could you make me a pot of Earl Grey tea and toast more of your cinnamon bread?”
I looked up. “Don’t you think you should do that? Exercise your muscles after your illness?”
He sniffed. “Well …… I suppose. What are you writing there?”
“I’m putting vitamin C on the shopping list. We’re going to start taking supplements so we don’t ever have to go through this again.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Considering how ill I’ve been, I’m a real trouper.”
If I don’t post a journal entry next week, you’ll know I’ve been arrested for murder and my weapon of choice will have been a frozen chicken leg!