Saturday afternoon, with Emily on a bus from Orlando to Hudson, Laura and I went to a hen party. We stayed overnight with Beth, Caroline, and Ruth, planning to go to a pancake breakfast in the morning.
It seems everyone began with great plans for the weekend. Francis intended to go to Columbus with his dad and a friend, on a very special project. When I inquired, not only had he not gone, he had missed the better part of the school week with the flu.
The hens, however, had a lovely dinner of salmon, scalloped potatoes and asparagus, plus strawberry shortcake for those with room, watched some TV and went to bed, remembering to set clocks ahead. When I woke at eight I found Laura, but no Beth. Laura was looking to see what bed Caroline might have removed to, and I poured coffee.
Soon the five foot detective returned. Aunt Beth isn’t here, Caroline isn’t here, and Aunt Beth’s car is gone. There on the other end of the counter was the note: “Caroline sick at 4 am; took her home.” Ruth appeared and was brought up to date. On Beth’s written instructions, Grandma Ruth and Laura began wiping down doorknobs with alcohol.
Then the little hen and two grandma hens went to pancake breakfast and ate enough for five hens. We were outdone, though, by the little boy across the table, who went through seven pancakes flat out. Every time we looked up, his reorder paddle was high in the air.
And so we came home, did puddle about things, retrieved Emily at seven thirty, and called it a day.
Come Monday, I was sick. Come Tuesday, sicker. I picked up Laura from her after school job as Mrs. P’s organizer, and no doubt, a sick little girl. I found her sound asleep maybe thirty minutes after supper was finished. I called and cancelled an evening appointment.
All evening, across the hall, I listened to that kid cough that rises from the belly button. In four years Laura has barely been sick. And, at ten this morning we had to keep an appointment we’d waited on four months.
Laura got up as I was about to go to bed. Yes, she still wanted to go to the appointment. She drank a glass of water and went back to bed. I arm wrestled my conscience. Two sick people deliberately walking into a doctor’s office, how awful. On the other hand, another four month wait was an intolerable thought.
This morning I put a dose of cough suppressant down her throat. We agreed on lots of tissues, and ample hand sanitizer, and off we went, being as discreet as discreet about being sick.
This doctor’s office is in a satellite hospital building; like so many being added to the landscape. The hospital is Akron Children’s Hospital, the practice is pediatric. The waiting area is large, and empty when we went in. I felt like the pied piper; they came in a stream behind me. Crying babies. Snotty nosed toddlers. Coughing everywhere.
I watched, astounded, as mothers wrestled with children. I watched, more astounded, fathers who did not. It seems to be a new world on that score. A diminutive princess, griping her father’s finger, crossing the room. A stout fellow perhaps up to walking, on the hip of his stocky father, just looking. Fathers with baby carriers and no mothers, in line to check in. Not my daughters’ father, that’s for sure.
We made it through the appointment, through check out and through the first door before I felt the sneeze. In the middle of the parking lot I was felled by the great sneeze attack; probably ten or twelve in a row. Awful.
Back in the car, a pink faced Laura waved her doctor’s pass. She had no intention of missing jazz band practice. In the olden days I would have said she was taking the cold right back where it came from. This time I decided we can just add Cleveland germs to the Hudson germ pool.
Now it is eight. Laura has been in bed since seven. I am determined to stay awake until nine.