Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – April 10, 2004
The Frow Up Dish
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – April 10, 2004 – When my brothers and I were kiddies we naturally succumbed to all the typical childhood illnesses. We had chicken pox, measles and mumps (I didn’t catch the mumps – I stubbornly told my mother that I would not have them and I didn’t).
My father got them instead. We got scarlet fever during which our house was quarantined and we had a wonderful pink sign on our front door warning of the dangers of our tainted home. Mike got pneumonia and Eric dislocated his arm. I had bee stings and pink eye and we had the usual headaches, fevers, scraped knees, cold sores, blisters, colds and snivels.
Whenever any of us was sick and once we were on the road to recovery, my mother always pampered us with a special treat. We got to have a mug of grown up tea (heavy on the milk and sweetened with honey) and little sandwiches. These were specially made treats. We got to choose our favourite filling, which was usually peanut butter or jelly – sometimes both, and when the sandwich was finished, Mom removed the edges of the bread and then cut the sandwich into nine little sections. She would sit on the edge of our beds and pass us one bite-sized piece at a time, followed by a sip of tea. We felt safe, cared for and loved with that simple getting-better ritual. It was almost worth getting sick just so we could have “little sandwiches”.
When Mike was a little tad and before he could clearly define all his words, he caught a severe stomach flu and was miserably sick for a couple of days. On one occasion he didn’t make it to the bathroom in time and was sick in the hallway. My mother’s solution was to march out to her antique shop and bring back the big bowl from a bathroom pitcher and basin set to serve as a receptacle for wayward retching.
She called it the throw up dish. Mike couldn’t say the “t” properly and it became the ‘Frow Up Dish’. I remember many times when we were children hearing a call in the middle of the night that signalled an upset stomach – “Mommie, mommie bring the frow up dish”. Mommie and the dish materialized as if by magic. The dish was placed by the bedside of whomever was feeling unwell. Just knowing it was there was unbelievably comforting and I’m sure there were times when it prevented us from being sick.
A few years ago I got food poisoning at a business lunch. By mid-afternoon my stomach was cramping horribly and by five o’clock I was incredibly sick. I spent the next two days dragging back and forth between my bed and the bathroom – wishing like mad that I had a frow up dish. If there’s one thing about living alone that is difficult, it’s being sick when no one else is at home.
There is a certain longing to have someone care for us when we’re ill, that probably harkens back to our childhood sense of security at such a time. My parents wouldn’t let anything bad happen to us when we were sick. They sat with us, stroked our foreheads and made us feel special. In these instances our illness ran its course and we got better.
If you have a friend or family member who is feeling unwell and you want to give them the gift of your time and attention – drop in on them when they’re well enough to have a visitor, and prepare weak tea and little sandwiches for them. They won’t soon forget your kindness and they will get better faster. There is no scientific or medical reason for this turn around in one’s spirits – from this small gesture of love and good will – but it works every time.