I have a cold

Photo on 2011-06-17 at 10.07

my ‘sick’ hat

I am home sick with a cold.

I am on the sofa watching television, a hat on my head, bundled up with tea and toast even though I live in Los Angeles. My dogs lie nearby, cautious concerned as dogs will do when they sense something is amiss. I lick my wounds as I blow my nose after the spat my husband and I had before he left to see a  marimba. ‘Will things be finished on time?’ Suddenly, as if drawn into a time warp, I am yanked back to an icy winter day in Kansas City. My mother kissing me on top of my head, promising to call periodically to ‘check-in’, briefly waving and looking sorry over her shoulder as she passes through the door to head for work.

When I was a kid I could count on getting sick about once a year. It began with the proverbial heaves in the night. Knowing I would never eat again that ‘thing’ whose course was reversed when it found itself in the wake of the demon bug. Armour Star chipped beef on toast (I can still picture the little glass jar juice glass) and Mrs. Somebody’s Fish Fingers will never again grace my pantry. Probably for the best.

Screen Shot 2013-12-01 at 12.48.11 PM

chipped beef on toast?

Upon awakening, the day would be spent mostly in bed. If I were lucky I would be allowed to slowly migrate downstairs to watch television. If anyone was home to either permit or stop me. Soap operas and game shows were the main bill of faire with the occasional saving grace of Dick Van Dyke and ‘I Love Lucy’. Later ‘Divorce Court’ and ‘That Girl’. Beef bouillon and toast. 7 Up. Again, there was a dog nearby, watchful, caring, careful, watching – and many cats.

As Raymond Burr droned on in the background courtroom my eyes would wander to the silently blowing branches of trees through window glass. I would study the cat high on the piano basking in a sun’s ray slowly, carefully dampening paw to precisely swipe up and over ear to nose. I would consider the dog as her sleepy lids dropped heavy in the afternoon silence. If I strained with every fiber I could just make out the scrape and moan of the giant yellow bus as it returned neighborhood compatriots.

Did you know there is a show starring live ‘talking puppies’? Santa Buddies. This holiday season Carrie Underwood has been crowned the current day Julie Andrews. I’ve discovered I can interactively workout with my television, if  I have a loose definition of ‘interactive’. (Truth be told I did discover a couple of new exercises.) On my 10,000 channels the same movies are available today that were available yesterday – why? A rueful smile crosses my lips as I remember my mother’s response when we expressed our concern, pre-assisted living, she was becoming somewhat introverted. My mother said, “Recluse? Recluse! I’ve got 99 channels!”

I am ‘grateful’ for this cold – appropriate this third day after Thanksgivukah. It reminds me that these days and This Season can be so much more than rushing and completing – of getting it right. They can simply be about nothing – or about being. That we even have an opportunity to discover a new way to celebrate; we can find our own new source of enlightment.

Jeanne Hauer

my mom 1969

Today, like those days at age six, seven, 10,11 is a day of solitude and introspection, even in the company of Rob and Laura. My friend Frank once told me that these sickdays are a gift. Life stops us and forces us to cease, access, contemplate, calm. We have no choice but to be still. With that comes a notion – we could take back the reins.

There has been a certain sadness the last few Winter Holidays. A sneaking suspicion they should be, could be more. As I lie here today looking at my beautiful and loving dogs, looking forward to seeing my dear and precious husband, knowing my son is coming to visit, contemplating the joyful vocal musical celebration of Chanticleer  (my personal holiday tradition), bundling up and venturing out to look at the scary beauty of the CA mountains and knowing we will take that trip to snow on Christmas Eve Day. I know we will take time and joy in creating our holiday recording. We will spend many fire pit fires outside under the stars grateful for the beautiful if deteriorating scene that is our home and grounds. I make a quiet vow not to be concerned about whether the house is clean or the cards are sent on time or the decorations are up, unless any one or all of those things brings me and mine pleasure and joy.

TAKE JOY is a holiday book my mother cherished. It was placed on the piano music stand every Christmas front and center. I search for a memory she took time to take joy. I hope she did. She doesn’t’ remember now.

I might not be well enough to read to the first graders tomorrow but I will be well enough to begin to make this Holiday Season something special. To take the Time to take my Joy so I can give it to others. My others.

What a wonderful cold….

last Christmas with the first graders


3 thoughts on “I have a cold

  1. We visited my granddaughters two weeks before Thanksgiving and both Lesa and I ended up with horrid colds that were still going strong on Thanksgiving day. We’ve been eating a lot of chicken soup and that reminded both of us of the probable 55-gallon drum of chicken soup are moms kept in the panty for the days of colds. Nice reading your thoughts about the value of a cold.


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