Funny thing about a cold. It seems to change in severity depending on who gets it in our household.
When my husband gets a cold, he often claims he is at death’s door.
“I’m dying,” he splutters through a mountain of used tissues.
“We’re all dying,” my son jokes.
“Well, I’m dying faster,” his father moans.
“Come on dad.” This time he’s serious. “There are kids dying of extreme poverty every ten seconds. You just have a cold.”
My husband may be feeling dreadful, but ever since the creation of #manflu, he gets little sympathy from friends. And sometimes his family. Much to his annoyance.
He really went under recently. The poor man was reduced to a whimpering mess as the cold took hold. He went from shivering to sweating; from wheezing to coughing. His hands felt clammy and his forehead burning hot.
He lay on the couch for three days, blanket tucked up to his chin, groaning like there was no tomorrow.
Yet #manflu was the common diagnosis.
I felt sorry for him. Especially since the kind man shared his illness with me and I knew exactly what he was going through.
It was a doozy. Aches and shivers. A high fever and sweats. In my younger days, it would have been over in three days. Now that I’m older, it’s taken almost a week to shake off.
Unfortunately, life keeps on.
In sickness or in health, there is still dinner to cook, the school run to do and a son to look after. And plough on, we must.
Our son hates public speaking.
There was an art activity where the kids from his class had to personify their nature as Mr Men characters. Our boy drew a purple man with a giant head. Over his mouth was yellow tape. He called himself Mr No Speak.
And of course, his homework the week his father and I were both barely functioning flu zombies was a four-minute talk on the environment.
“I am not doing it,” our son’s voice quivers. His eyes fill with tears. “I hate this. I am no good at it.”
I muster up my sternest tiger mum voice.
“I don’t want to hear that kind of talk from you,” I growl between coughs. “I have read your writing when you’ve put your mind to it. It’s good.”
“No. It’s not,” he insists. I don’t know why I thought the tiger mum act would work. The room spins. He must get his mulish stubbornness from his father.
I am on the couch willing myself to move. Nothing moves. But it feels like my head splits open.
Then from the corner of my eye, I see my husband. His legs start to twitch. He slowly rises from the other end of the couch. His face is ashen. He groans as his feet touch the ground.
“Come on T. Let’s do this. I have a few ideas,” he mutters.
Superman could have flown by and I would not have noticed. At that moment, my husband was his own DC superhero. A thousand angels sang from above as he slowly walked our son to the kitchen table to start his homework.
For the next hour and a half, he patiently cajoled, encouraged and helped our son write and practise his speech for school.
By the end of it, our son was thrilled. Not only did he have a talk, his father somehow gave him the confidence to accomplish something he didn’t think he could. He becomes emboldened to finish other parts of his homework, which consists of writing down the wattage of our kitchen appliances.
I could not have loved my husband more than I did at that night.
For a brief moment, I didn’t care if he never bought me flowers. I didn’t care if we spent our last wedding anniversary watching cricket on the tele; if he never took me to restaurants where the food was small and Instagram pretty. He was suddenly romance and love personified.
My husband wet sneezes into his tissue. With a snort, he slowly rises from his chair, walks over to me and gives me a kiss on my hot, sweaty, disgusting forehead.
His work done, he crawls up the stairs to bed.