THE JOY OF KLEENEX
‘Tis the season. Cold and flu season, that is.
This week, between both of us, Suzanne and I succumbed to nearly every symptom on the list. Gail, however, remained healthy. I think illness is scared of Gail—as it should be.
I was out of commission for two days, and mercifully, was then able to be back among the living. Suzanne, however, had more of a struggle. She drug herself through work for too long, then finally took three days off. She went back, but still struggled. I told her to stay at home longer, but she didn’t listen. Apparently, she thinks I’m not the boss of her.
I have made it abundantly clear that Gail is industrious, hard-working, task-oriented and quite simply, loves to work. She works when she is tired, achy, not at her best or when she has already put in a full day. I would say she works when she is sick, but apparently, she doesn’t get sick.
As I lay in my sickbed this week, commiserating with Suzanne by phone, I let Gail know that apparently, both of her sisters had come down with winter health woes. I sent her a text to let her know, and to inquire as to how she was feeling.
She was fine, of course. No illness on her end. I asked her when she was last sick.
“Hmm, let me think. It’s been awhile. I think I missed a few days of work in 1995. I don’t remember being sick since then,” she said.
Twenty-five years. Gail hasn’t been sick in 25 years. Again, I think illness is scared of her. Or, perhaps it knows she will not be an easy conquest. If illness were to take up residence in her body, she would not be a gracious hostess. She would simply not put up with it. She has work to do, and she doesn’t have time. For the illness, it would be like trick-or-treating at a house that doesn’t have any candy to offer. Like opening an empty gift box. Like an empty jug of milk someone left in the refrigerator. Nothing to see here. Move on. You get the idea.
Suzanne was concerned that perhaps, just as she did when she was five years old, she had pneumonia. She did get herself to the doctor, was tested for that and every other conceivable illness going around, and all tests were negative. She simply had a severe case of the crud.
She reminded me of her hospital stay when she was five—complete with breathing treatments; I had forgotten. I do remember her having violent coughing fits when she was about that age, so severe that she would end up in the bathroom, vomiting. Our little brother, bless his little heart, would follow quickly behind her and hold her hair out of the way.
So, when I found this while Christmas shopping, I knew she must have it.
I had my share of childhood illnesses, but my sole hospitalization was to repair a hernia at age eight. I didn’t recall Gail being hospitalized as a child, and no memory of her being sick. She did remind me that she was hospitalized during college for strep throat and dehydration. Her room had a balcony, and three of her college friends—including her now-husband—scaled the outside wall to visit her on this balcony. She recalled going to the balcony door to greet her visitors with her I.V. pole in tow. Her only other overnights in the hospital were to deliver her four children—the last two were born at the same hospital as her college stay. It took her but a few highly efficient hours to birth each of them, and while the doctor was sure to keep her overnight, she was most likely jonesing to get out of there later that day and get her new work started because, as many of you know, a new baby brings a plentitude of new work.
Let it be noted that I labored extensively all night times two to bring my babies into the world, and Suzanne took even longer than that to birth her daughter. Even in childbirth, Gail’s work is time-efficient. Suzanne and me, not so much.
The weekend brought blessed relief for Suzanne, and she was able to get back in the groove. There was weekend fun to be had, and she got out there and had it. We are both grateful for a return to wellness; feeling better always feels better after an illness.
Because we do have a collective online image to uphold, there will be no pictures of Suzanne and me in our diminished states. I didn’t see her and she didn’t see me, but I’m guessing we both looked something like this:
And my head felt like this:
The bedside of my sickbed was littered with Kleenex, magazines and books, which I tossed aside when I was finished with them. I finished a few good books, perused a few others, and blew (literally) through more than an entire box of Kleenex.
I won’t go into detail, but Suzanne required Kleenex for more than one purpose.
My previous blog post that received the most light-hearted feedback was Waste Not, Want Not (January 14th, 2018). I made it abundantly clear that while there was indeed a roll of paper towels next to my kitchen sink, they were to be used ONLY in case of emergency, contamination or contagion. This is how we grew up; paper towels were a precious resource not to be squandered, because they costed good money. There were old towels used as washable rags to be used for clean-ups and wipe-ups, as well as a kitchen towel at hand to dry one’s hands. This aspect of waste not has never left me.
I have entirely different standards for Kleenex. They are meant to be used without hesitation, and promptly thrown away. Their primary purpose invites contagion, and I don’t bat an eye at their liberal use.
Neither did our mom. She was frugal with paper towels, but not Kleenex. She was so liberal with them, as a matter fact, that she felt free to spend good money on good Kleenex—especially the pretty ones.
Suzanne, who lived just a few blocks away from Mom and Dad, reminisced about this penchant of Mom’s. She was well aware that Mom always had pretty Kleenex boxes on hand, and treated them as the necessary luxury they were for her. She didn’t spend extra money on anything except these pretty Kleenex boxes.
I still have one of her pretty Kleenex boxes. I took it from their home as we cleaned it out, and I have refilled it many times since, opening up the bottom and inserting a new roll out of a new box.
Now, I make a point to always buy pretty Kleenex boxes, even if they cost a little more.
I am recalling from Suzanne’s birthday post Happy Birthday Suzanne–Be Careful What You Wish For (August 13th, 2017), that Gail and I organized a community-wide and online appeal for anyone willing to present Suzanne with toilet paper on her birthday. We were simply fulfilling a long-forgotten wish she made earlier that year, when she was refilling her bathroom toilet tissue as hostess for our family at Easter. “I wish for my birthday, that everyone would give me toilet paper.”
The light bulb immediately lit up in my head. We can do that. I tucked that plan away at Easter for resurrection in August. When the 300-plus rolls rolled in at her door, her workplace, in the mail and on the street, she had no memory of this wish. She was thrilled, however. Ever the minimalist, she makes exceptions for such functional and numerous gifts, easily storing them in her basement.
My birthday is coming up in April. If you need gift ideas, I’m always up for pretty Kleenex boxes—or more paper towels.
Suzanne and I enjoyed dinner together Saturday night.
May you have a healthy and cold/flu-free winter. If you are down with it, may you get back up soon. And, as always, if you are indeed able, join me in a thank-you for good health. And if Gail has any secrets for avoiding sickness, I will let you know.