I remember a time when I had even less wisdom than I have now and one of my sons became ill with Glandular Fever. We all know that glange, as the trendy young things say, is a long slow process of rest, rest and more rest.
As a child, I’d loved Susan Coolidge’s What Katy Did and various other books that involved long periods of bed rest for sick children. Those fictional invalids used their months/years to expand their horizons with great reading.Bearing this in mind, I knew what Chris needed.
Firstly, I settled him into crisp clean sheets, adjusted the curtains so that he was lying in a soothing filtered light, and brought him a glass of water, (not too hot and not too cold). I set out for the library.
No doubt I had my warrior headdress on and probably elbowed my way to the front of the queue, shouting ‘medical emergency,’ because in record time I was staggering home with at least a dozen tomes of suitable mind-enriching literature. They formed a small beside table.
‘You’re hungry? Sure.’ Again, I knew what to do. Out I went to buy vegetables for his broth and fruit for his smoothie.
As I drove back up the drive the second time, I was disappointed to see at least four cars dropped haphazardly by the front door. This clashed with my image of quiet visitors, one at a time.
There was a sound of laughter coming from his room and as I went closer I saw that my coffee table had been carried into Chris’s room and his friends were setting up a TV at the foot of the bed. His stack of newly acquired books was being used to prop the TV up to a decent height.
The curtains were shut and the screen flickered as the visiting boys selected the games. ‘Hi Mum,’ Chris called, without looking at me.
I smelt the KFC before I registered the red and white bucket seeping fat onto the linen and I saw that everyone, infectious or otherwise, was hoeing into the tub. Chris had a big, cold coke in one hand and the controls for the play station in the other. He managed to turn and wave then. ‘I’m feeling much better,’ he said and another perfect parenting dream faded. The thing was, he looked better.
So nowadays, I have no advice for ill or recovering friends. But sometimes, when I visit someone who’s reclining on a cool verandah with plenty of pillows surrounding them, a long glass of water and a good book within reach I can’t help but think, oh, yes, you know how it’s done.