I’m sick. Not the “I need to go to the hospital” kind of sick. Just the “I need to call my mom and tell her I’m sick so she’ll feel sorry for me” kind of sick. Normally I would do exactly that. I’d call my mom and pronounce my illness. Then she would say things like, “oh honey, I’m so sorry you are sick, are you taking medicine? Do you need anything?” And the sound of her voice would take me back to when I was a little girl and she would rub Vick’s Vapo-Rub on my chest and tuck me into bed, surrounded by my stuffed animals.
However, I’m 50 and can no longer get away with having my mother rub Vick’s Vapo-Rub on my chest. It would just be too weird. So I have to settle for calling her up and listening to her tell me she feels sorry for me on the telephone. Sometimes growing up sucks.
Meanwhile, my parents are getting old, and they are starting to have their own issues. You know you have passed the “middle age” mark when your parents start having “procedures.” All of a sudden, you start getting phone calls from either your mom or your dad that go something like this:
“Kelly, this is your mother. I’m just calling to let you know that on Tuesday your father is going to have a small ‘procedure’. It’s nothing to worry about, I just figured you should know in advance.”
These are the sort of voice mail messages that make you tell people at work you have a “hard stop” in 15 minutes just so you can call your mom back and get more details. What kind of procedure? Who is the doctor? When did this problem start?
Then you start trying to remember how old your parents are. Is it 72 or 73? When did they stop being 49? That’s what I want to know. When did I get old enough to have parents that are in their early 70’s? In my minds eye they are still somewhere in their late 40’s or early 50’s and I’m just dropping by to have a glass of wine or share a late supper. And there is no talk of procedures. Instead, we can talk about me, and the fact that I’m sick, because that is what kids do with their parents.
No matter how old you are, you still want your mom to hug you, commiserate with you, and tell you its going to be okay. So I think that after I post this, I’m going to call my mom, even though I have lost my voice and cannot speak five words without coughing. I’m going to tell her all my miseries just so I can hear her ask me if I’m taking my medicine and if I need anything. Then I’m going to go find the Vick’s Vapo-Rub.
No doubt about it, the world is not the same place without one’s mother in it.