In sickness and in health: a short opinion on life in the former

There are human experiences that find relief only in the writing of extremely tacky poetry – the kind that Uncle Joe would read aloud at his great-niece’s wedding, laboring under the impression that he has produced something clever while everyone else ate cake. (“Her mother and father did her adore, Little knowing what lay in store…”)

Thank you for indulging me. I’ve found there is nothing like a bad rhyme to lift the spirits.

A few years ago we vowed sickness and health

But what that entailed I couldn’t have shown ya

The germs staged a coup and attacked us by stealth

The year I had bronchitis and he had pneumonia.


The children were coughing, the fevers were rife.

I said “Hello, doctor? I thought I would phone ya

Hubby says when he breathes he is stabbed by a knife

I bet I have bronchitis and he has pneumonia.”


The comforting thing is that all of this landed

Into the first month of the new year we’ve known

So the rest can’t be worse than the scoop we were handed

When I had bronchitis and he had pneumone.


Unless of course somebody dies and gets buried

Or my mind says Goodbye pal, it’s nice to have known ya

…Or a cannibal sharpens his axe to debone ya

…Or the orthodox church takes a notion to stone ya

…Or the wrecker has an accident right while he’s towin ya

…Or a stranger says Here’s a black backpack to loan ya


All things considered, I’m just not that worried

Since I had bronchitis and he had pneumonia.

Peanut butter and dragon wings

Confession: My son caught me crouching in the pantry with a large spoonful of peanut butter and honey halfway to my mouth.

pb n honey_0120

??!!?? he said.

The spoon made it the rest of the way, hastily.

Regan, I said firmly, I am gathering shthrength to care for my children. Now go play.


Three weeks of intense coughing by Mrs. Zook developed into 100% of her kiddos sick, including foster-baby-for-at-least-the-weekend who turned into foster-baby-for-at-least-two-weeks and then began upchucking violently. The washing machine stopped working and several inches of water pooled in the basement from all the rain. My mother got her first chemo treatment and my sister arrived from Israel, but I stayed away for the sake of all those germs.

A great weight loss program, all told; I highly recommend it. There is so little time to actually eat.

That is why I was crouching in the pantry fortifying myself with a chunk of peanut butter. I figured it was better than eating the entire bag of York mints.

And it was within reach, too.

But things are looking up. My man hotwired the washing machine and drained the basement. My friends sent food and comforting text messages, despite sickness in their own troops. I made it to the doctor, and the baby stopped puking (and oh, she is sweet), and the coughing bug caught the final child. We are fresh out of children for this bug to catch. Unless it starts catching them over again, which—heaven forbid.


My friend Anita owned the one piece of clothing in the world that I coveted, a webbed scarf knitted in a dragon’s wing pattern, deep turquoise with flecks of all colors woven through it. Her mother made it for her; not the kind of thing you can go buy at Walmart.

The week after Christmas I got a surprise package from my friend Heidi in Canada. I unwrapped a beautiful light turquoise store-bought scarf with flecks of color all through it. Hey, my son said. That looks kind of like the dragon’s wing.

I laughed in delight, and wrapped it around my shoulders. I wore it in season and out of season, matching and not matching, shelter me in the shadow of your wing. His provision is not a sparrow’s wing, as I always imagined, but something akin to a dragon’s wing. I wore it on the night the baby came and on the nights I sat up with her and I wrapped it around everyone I rocked to sleep.

scarf n baby_0090

I think He sent it on purpose, right before my crazy time. I wore it till I could feel it around me whether I was wearing it or not. I’m wearing it now.

I debated and debated about the color, Heidi said. I thought you liked blue.


I had to fill another spoonful of peanut butter and honey for the sake of a photograph, but I didn’t mind. Neither did Regan, who stayed home sick today from school. He got to eat this one.