Monday, December 1, 2014

Sickness, Compassion, and a Change of Perspective

. . .you wanna talk about the Walking Dead?

Because I AM the walking dead today.


Good gravy, that was a LOOOOONG night.

To put it briefly:  my son is sick.

I mean, sick-as-a-dog sick.

We woke up yesterday morning at the beach, ready to head home from our Thanksgiving getaway with The Pawpaw and Lon.  Nothing too remarkable, (aside from the completely remarkable act of being at the beach at Thanksgiving, which was a first for me) but a good time was had by all, and we were more than grateful for the chance to get away, clear our heads, and just relax for a few days.  By Sunday morning, though, we were wide awake, and ready to see the motley crew of pirates that we call "family" once again.

So we all piled back into the car, settled in for a few hours of driving, and began to slowly make our way back north.

It was a long ride.

Slightly longer than usual, because Took got sick on the way back.

He started feeling bad about 3 hours away from home.

Threw up in his car seat about 2 hours away from home.

Seemed to feel a little better after that, and by about lunchtime, we found ourselves parked in our own driveway once again, and really, REALLY happy to see several different boys spilling from our front door to welcome us back home.

It was nice.

(Aside from the fact that I was returning to a home where Ash Ferley, my dear friend and feline companion for the past 15 years, was no longer in residence.  I knew he was gone.  I knew he had lived a good, LONG, life for a cat, and I knew that HE had known he was loved.  But still. . . walking in and seeing only one cat food bowl in the kitchen. . .
But that is a different story for a different day.

So we got all our stuff in, said our goodbyes to The Pawpaw and Lon, and saw the eldest Spawn off as well, as he had to get back to school and prior obligations, and had only stayed long enough to say hello to Took and I as we got home.

Took and Pad ran and played and fought and played and battled and played and generally just had a grand ole time together.  It was a good thing to see.

And about the time nightfall hit, after Pad had gone back home, of course Took's fever came right along with it.

By 6:30, he was barking like a dog and burning up.  I gave him some children's Tylenol, got him plenty of juice, and let him sack out in our bed and watch cartoons (surrounded by a virtual army of stuffed babies).

At 9:00, we took him up to bed.  Read a story, put assorted babies in their respective watch-posts on the bed, and, by the time I was halfway through the second lullaby, he was already out of it. Asleep, partially fever-delirious, and mumbling and moaning in his sleep.

Too late to call the doctor. . . so of course I called my mom.

She told me the things to watch out for, assured me that a fever is good sign, as it means his body is fighting off infection, and just generally made ME feel better.

At 10:30 he could have another dose of Tylenol, and that was when I instructed his Daddy to carry him downstairs and put him on a pallet in the floor in our room.  (Because his mom is getting older, and her back sucks.  And there was no way I could sleep on the floor in his room.  And I wasn't letting him just burn up with a fever all night long.  A pallet in our room was the obvious choice.)

Got the medicine in him (through some QUITE vocal protests), patted him down with a cool, wet rag.  Settled him into his pallet. And I crawled back onto the bed to wait.

15 minutes after Tylenol, I checked him.  He was starting to cool down.

Back onto the bed.

30 minutes after Tylenol, I checked him again.  He was almost a normal temperature again.  Thank everything that's holy.

I set my alarm for 3 a.m. (when he could have his next dose of medicine), and settled in to sleep for a few hours.

3 a.m. comes, and I turn off my alarm.  Lie there in bed for a moment, trying to figure out the best way to wake him up. . . and he suddenly sits BOLT upright, and starts throwing up.

Wow.  Timing this perfect is both a blessing, and a curse.

Cleaned him up, cleaned up his pallet, got more Tylenol in him (which I did NOT think he would keep down, but he did), patted him down with a cool, wet cloth again, and finally settled back in to sleep.

His next dose would be at 7 a.m. 

I knew I would NOT be needing an alarm in order to be awake for that one.

And so it goes, that at 7 we woke.  He was burning up again, but no more vomiting.  Got him moved comfortably to the couch, where he has been until this very moment, watching cartoons and being not-so-secretly thrilled at the prospect of having "all the juice you want, today."

And every time I walk over and press my hand on his back, or his forehead, to check him, he says:  "Mama, I fine.  I promise.  I fine, Mama."


I think he's finally starting to MAYBE shake it.


But today is most certainly going to be a day filled with ungodly amounts of juice, and crackers, and time spent piled up in bed (or on the couch) playing quietly and watching cartoons.

And, because I am me, and my mind is always always always over-thinking, and working overtime for absolutely NO extra pay. . . something occurs to me.

First off, yep.  I'm really tired today.  My back is killing me, and I got almost no sleep.  But I'll make it.  That's what coffee is FOR. And honestly, considering the long night we had. . . I could feel a LOT worse.

But what I'm thinking about. . . what has already brought a tear to my eye this morning. . . is THIS:

How many people do I know, people that I judge for one reason or another, people that maybe I look at as being "hard". . . that have NEVER had anyone take care of them this way?



As recently as Christmas last year, when I was just stupidly, stop-your-life-and-do-nothing-for-two-weeks sick with pneumonia, my own mother has had me take up residence in her house, spewing germs everywhere, while she took care of me 'round the clock.

I mean, Set-your-alarm-and-get-up-at-2-a.m.-to-give-me-medicine grade care-taking.

She has always done this.

Whenever I was very ill, any time I have ever been really sick, and couldn't take care of myself, she has done this.

And apparently. . . who knew?  It stuck.


In light of recent events, both in my own personal life and in the media, I have found myself mentally griping about selfishness lately.

I have become angry about it.  (And honestly. . . I rarely get angry.  I get upset a lot.  I get sad.  I get my feelings hurt.  But I hardly ever get "angry."  But lately I have really felt myself get angry about people that I viewed as "selfish."  People that always put their own needs first, and never gave a second thought to anyone else's comfort.  
. . . They really pissed me off.)

As recently as yesterday, I was griping about it.

"I am totally DONE with selfish people," I said to my husband.

And I felt very justified in my anger, at threats and complaints both real and virtual.

And I should've known better.

I really should have.

But I felt JUSTIFIED, you see.  Because selfish people are SELFISH.  And it's OKAY to be angry at people like that.

I forgot rule #1, which is:

ANY time you feel like it's "okay" to feel hatefully toward, or have angry feelings toward, a certain group of people, any time you start to feel that that is JUSTIFIED. . . THAT is when you are coming dangerously close to being completely, totally lost.

Change your perspective, and quick, because you're in dangerous waters.

So I took my own, STELLAR advice, and I looked at the situation again.

Those people that I thought of as selfish, as being "hard", or cynical. . . what WERE they being, exactly?

Yes, some of them WERE selfish.  

. . . but WHY were they so selfish?

Could it be because of something so simple as they had never HAD anyone to take care of them?  Could it be that maybe they became selfish because they never had anyone in their corner, and they figured that if they were going to get taken care of, they were just going to have to do it themselves?


. . . Nothing like a little change in your point of view to COMPLETELY screw up a perfectly justified "mad."


This, of course, took every BIT of wind out of my Angry Sails.

Pffffttttttt.  Gone.

And, once again, I find myself feeling very grateful for my mother. And for ALL the people that have sacrificed their own wishes, and their own comfort, to take care of ME over the years.

I think of all the people I know, that maybe never had anyone to care for them, to "tend" them when they were sick, and what lessons that would invariably impart.  And my heart aches for them.

And then I think of all the people I know, quietly going about their lives and taking care of everyone they know and love, in any and every way that they can.

And my heart swells again.

And so I'd just like to throw this out there:

To every mother/father/step-parent/auntie/cousin/friend that's ever set their alarm to an ungodly hour of morning, just to give that needed dose of medicine,

To every one of you that has the capacity, and the heart, and the willingness, to put yourself on the back-burner for a moment, and take care of those that really need it,

To every one that has ever made the choice to be caring, and decided that you could sleep later,

Your sleepless nights were not in vain.

By taking care of others, by momentarily putting yourself last, you have passed on to the next generation a level of compassion that is sorely needed in this world.

By caring for others, you've taught them.

THIS is how we take care of the people we love.

THIS is how we show that we care.

If compassion is a learned skill, that can be honed like any other, then it is people like this that pass it on to the next generation.

It is a skill that I will pass on to my son.  

I will make sure of it.

. . . 

. . . what better legacy could there possibly BE??


Today I am grateful for the people in my life who have shown me how to practice the art of compassion.

And I have decided to pass it on, and be that example for others.

I am grateful for the ability to change my point of view, and to see things from a different direction, even if it means I then have to change my thinking on a subject, or, God forbid, admit I was wrong.

I'm grateful that I was brought up to believe that admitting you were wrong, even if it is only to yourself, is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Grateful for a million things, and a day.


"I know my call 
despite my faults and 
despite my growing fears."

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