My wife has been sick and in bed for the last few days. She thought she'd do the smart thing by getting her flu shot early this year, and, sure enough, she got the flu.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not against inoculating yourself against the various bugs and viruses that will save the Earth when the space aliens come to conquer our planet. In fact, every year I get the flu shot, too. My wife makes sure I do.
"I don't get sick," I tell her.
"But what if you do?" she'll tell me.
"I've never had the flu in my life."
"What does that have to do with anything?"
And she's right. I've never had the flu in my life, true, but maybe the shots had something to do with that. I've never had polio, either. Or whooping cough, or any number of childhood diseases, and I can thank my parents for taking me to the doctor to get my childhood vaccinations. The generation before mine wasn't so fortunate. Ask FDR.
But don't tell my wife. Right now I'm having too much fun teasing her on her deathbed.
My first wife used to drive me nuts when I was sick. I'd be in bed, sleeping, trying to heal, and she'd come in every hour on the hour.
"Are you sleeping?" she would ask, as her head peeked around the used-to-be-closed bedroom door.
"How do you feel?"
"Let me sleep. Please. I'm begging you."
And she would. For an hour, at least. I'm not saying that was the reason we eventually got a divorce, but I'm not saying it isn't one of the reasons.
Hmm... maybe I should rethink this whole teasing my wife when she's sick thing.
My Dad, on the other hand, doesn't know what to do with himself when my wife is sick. He knows how to turn on the TV, how to work the remote, and how to fix his own tea, snacks, and food, but my wife has him extremely spoiled.
He'll sit in his favorite chair in the great room, and my wife will turn on the TV for him.
"What channel do you want it on, Dad?" she'll ask him. I don't know why she asks. He always wants it on the baseball channel. But she asks him anyway.
Once my Dad's comfortable and watching a game, she'll ask him if he wants something to eat.
"Some ice cream, Dad?" she'll ask him.
"Ahhh... ice cream? I don't know. What flavor do you have?" I don't know why he asks. We always have the same three flavors. But he asks her anyway.
"We have vanilla and chocolate, Dad."
"We have strawberry, too."
"Ahhh... strawberry? I don't know."
It takes him a few minutes to decide. My wife is a saint. She'll wait patiently for him to answer.
"Oh, okay," he'll finally say. He never says no. I don't know why he takes so long to answer. "But not too much. You always serve me too much."
I don't say anything, but what I'm thinking is, "Instead of complaining, how about just saying thank you." But, like I said, I don't say anything.
So my wife will bring him a small bowl of strawberry ice cream, and she'll even add a few cookies on the side. My Dad likes cookies.
When it's time to eat, I have no problem serving myself. My wife's a busy lady. She's just worked hard cooking everybody great meals, and serving myself is the least I can do. My Dad, on the other hand, just plops himself down at the kitchen table and waits to be served. He won't eat, unless he's served. But my dad's 93 years-old. I guess I shouldn't complain.
When my wife's sick, however, it's another story. My Dad's a grown man. I don't baby him. I'll cook for us, but it's up to him to serve himself.
Yesterday, when he got home from his walk, I was just about done making some steak and eggs. The steak was from the day before. I cut it up into pieces, heated it up in the frying pan, and scrambled some eggs to go with it.
"You hungry, Dad?"
"Are you hungry?"
"What are you making?"
"Steak and eggs."
"Steak and what?"
"Steak and eggs."
"Ahhh... steak and eggs?" He'll think about it. "Well, I am hungry."
By this time, the food is done, and I've served myself and am sitting down at the table.
"Well, the food's ready, Dad. Help yourself."
And he does.
For dinner that night, my daughter brought him some gumbo soup.
"I brought you dinner, Grandpa."
"You did? What'd you bring?"
"I brought you some gumbo."
"Oh, boy," he said. "I like gumbo."
And, again, he just plopped himself down at the table, and waited to be served. No thank you for the gumbo. No thank you for serving him. No thank you at all. Later that night, she brought him some ice cream.
"You served me too much," he told her. "I didn't want this much."
"Sorry, Grandpa," she told him.
It may have been too much, but that didn't keep him from enthusiastically eating all of it.
This morning, my wife was still in bed. I told my Dad early, before he went on his walk.
"I don't think she's coming downstairs, Dad," I told him.
He mumbled something and left.
While he was gone, I was busy feeding the dogs and cleaning up. I worked fast, because I wanted to get in an early workout, because I was supposed to pick up my grandson later. He spent the night with his auntie. She picks him up several times a month, wines and dines him, and I usually pick him up later in the day. Last night was the first night he had spent the night at her house, and I was anxious to see him.
I go upstairs to see how my wife's doing.
"How are you feeling, sweetie?" I ask her.
"Can I get you something?"
"Are you thirsty?"
"No. I just want to water my plants."
My wife. The smart ass.
So I went downstairs to get her some water. I found my Dad sitting in the shadows, in front of a TV he hasn't bothered to turn on. I guess he was waiting for my wife to come downstairs to turn it on for him and fix him breakfast.
Well, this time he's on his own. Today I'm just too busy, and I know he's capable of fending for himself. However, just so you know I'm not heartless, my conscience tugs at me. It's kind of sad seeing him sitting there, in a dark room, in front of a black TV. There was a time when my Dad was young and strong and he had the world in his hands. Now, he's an old man sitting by himself. We're all heading there, I guess.
If we live long enough.