My eyes are closed. I hear beeps. The washer begins filling with water. The agitator begins with a thrum.
The sounds return me to my youth. Household machines running are sounds of comfort. I hear them as I lie awake and sick, listening to household chores being done, just as I heard them when I was a child. The dishes being washed, the vacuum cleaner running accompanied by muted television, music, or radio, these were the sound of life going on.
My wife listens to either NPR, BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughn or the Eurythmics when she cleans. Mom listened to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Connie Stevens, Perry Como, or Johnny Mathis.
I was sick often as a child. One fall when I returned to school, the teacher asked us to report, "What you did this summer." My report was pretty short: I leaped from a tree, severely spraining my ankle and was bedridden for the month of June, then contracted bronchitis and was in bed July and most of August.
A few years later, six grade, I missed all of January with bronchitis. Seventh grade found me missing the first three weeks of December with pneumonia. That was the last time I was out of commission for a while until I sliced off a toe tip with a lawnmower, following that up with a bout of mono sidelining me for an entire December. I was an adult by then, so it doesn't really count.
We had simple recipes for coping with illnesses in our house when I was growing up, and I still follow them.
1. Canada Dry Ginger Ale is given for upset stomachs. Other sodas can be used if necessary but Mom preferred Ginger Ale or one of the lemon lime drinks, like Sprite or Seven-Up.
2. Hot tea with lemon and honey, and buttered toast with jam or jelly was applied to sore throats. We used Lipton tea, thank you.
3. Colds called for Campbell's soup with Ritz crackers. The soup was often chicken noodle but sometimes tomato, vegetable beef or beef barley was served.
The other memory of my youthful illnesses was Mom's presence. When fevers took me into troubled sleep, she would wash me with cold cloths, rub my chest and neck with Vick's Vapor Rub, or just sit with me, praying. She often prayed aloud. I'd wake up hearing her saying, "Please, Lord, please, don't take my son away." I don't know what else she said. That's all I remember.
It must have worked. I'm still here, despite all my illnesses and destructive behavior.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com