Well, it had to happen; the Crankee Yankee has the flu. We both had gotten flu shots, but as you well know, they don’t always mean that you get a free pass from the flu. Our wonderful doctor put him right on meds (with preventive ones for me). After an awful night of fever, chills, coughing, aching and cold sweats, his fever broke spectacularly.
I don’t think I did much except doze; you know how it is when you have a sick person/ baby/pet in the house; all you do is wait and listen. My thoughts turned to “what in the world would I do without him?” “Is he going to be all right?” And so on.
When morning finally came, I went in to feel his forehead, dreading more high temps. Thankfully, blessedly, no fever. Of course he was soaked with sweat, and croaked out a request for orange juice. Both of our “nursey” cats, Plumpy and Tinker, had slept beside him all night long.
I told him how happy I was that he was feeling better and that I would be back right away with the orange juice. I went out in the kitchen and burst into tears—of gratitude. You hear so many awful things about the flu and mere colds killing people our age and older, and of course, the mind conjures up terrible images.
All through the night I worried and tried to think what my life would be like without him. Funny thing, when I was in my 20s and 30s, I lived alone and loved it. I always had a cat, and that was plenty of company for me. But from the time the Crankee Yankee and I married, I couldn’t imagine living without him.
By the time I pulled myself together, and came back in with the orange juice, I was as composed as I could be. It was then that I could see that the sheets, the two towels he’d asked for the night before and the pillow were soaked. I asked him if, when he got out of bed, I could strip the bed and put new, fresh (and dry) sheets down.
He looked at me and said, “oh no, don’t bother. I want to just lay in my sweaty sheets and misery this morning.” And then we burst out laughing (which of course triggered more coughing); it brought me back to earth again.
How awful and yet wonderful it is to have a loved one get sick! Awful because you don’t know how long they will be ill, will they be all right, will they survive? Wonderful because when they get on the road to recovery, you feel as though all your innards have dropped into your shoes. All the horrible images you imagined did not come true, and you are breathless with gratitude.
How could I possibly get angry about the Crankee Yankee leaving used tissues on the desk, or forgetting to lock up the car or misplacing the shopping list? These are nothing compared to the person. Sweaty sheets can be washed, tissues can be tossed, and I always check the vehicles anyway before bedtime.
Sometimes you need that “reality dope-slap” to make you remember what the truly important things are. It’s people, not property; it’s love, not money; it’s laughter, not tears, and it’s joy and not fear.