Thursday, November 1, 2012


For the past week, I have been enduring the worst torture that any woman can be forced to endure.

My husband has been sick with a cold.

Unlike most colds, this one went directly to his chest. No sniffling, no sneezing, just a hacking cough that sounds as if his head is stuck in an empty oil barrel. This is the kind of cough that seems to come up from the bowels of the earth, enters his feet and then shoots up through his lungs.  Even the dogs have been growling at him whenever he coughs, probably because he sounds like something that has rabies.

Trying to sleep with a man who coughs all night is nearly impossible. But it’s not the sound of it that bothers me…it’s the bouncing. When my husband coughs, his entire body rocks, so it feels as if I am trying to sleep in a hammock on the Titanic. I had to get out of bed three times the other night because I was nauseated from motion sickness.

“I think I’m going to sleep in the guest room,” I said on the third night.

“Noooo!” he protested. “Don’t leave me!  What if I stop breathing or something?”

I popped a Dramamine.

As is always the case when my husband is sick, I have to listen to hours of his whining about how he hasn’t got long for this world and how he should update his will. I also have to sit through his list of specific instructions about sprinkling his ashes over a herd of buffalo in Wyoming.  I have heard this stuff so often, I tend to just tune him out and do a lot of nodding, pretending I’m listening.

The problem with someone who has heart trouble and high blood pressure is that he is not allowed to take 99 percent of the cough and cold medications on the market.  The pharmacist finally did suggest a cough medicine he could take, so I was tempted to buy a case of it and make my husband bathe in it.  Instead, I brought home only one bottle to test it.

Unfortunately, had I given him a glass of water with red food coloring in it, it would have had the same effect.  The coughing continued.

Seeing that my husband pretty much follows the same behavioral pattern whenever he has a cold or the flu, I thought I was well prepared for what this cold was going to bring. But to my surprise, something new came with it – something that caught me completely off guard.

One of my husband’s favorite TV shows is called “The Big Bang Theory.” On this show, there is a character named Sheldon. Whenever Sheldon is ill, he asks Penny, the girl next door, to sing a special song that his mother used to sing to him whenever he was sick as a child.  It’s called “Soft Kitty” and goes like this: “Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur. Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr, purr, purr.”

My husband always gets a big kick out of hearing that song whenever poor Sheldon is sick on the show.

The other night, exhausted from a full day of hacking, my husband went to bed early. I brought him some water, a dose of his cough medicine and a second pillow, thinking he might feel better if he propped himself up instead of lying flat.

“There!” I said. “Anything else you need?”

“Yes,” he said, giving me a pleading look. “Sing ‘Soft Kitty’ to me.”

I laughed, thinking he was kidding.

“No, I’m serious,” he said. “I really think it would help me.”

“Don’t be silly,” I said. “A dumb song isn’t going to help your cough!”

“You never know until you try,” he insisted.

I took his temperature, thinking he might be delirious from a fever. It was 98.4.

Still, I wasn’t about to sing “Soft Kitty.”  For one thing, I can’t carry a tune. If I were standing in front of a firing squad and my last wish was to sing a song, they’d shoot me full of holes the minute I opened my mouth, just to shut me up.

Last night, I asked my husband how he was feeling.

“Worse,” he said, groaning. “Are you sure you won’t sing the ‘Soft Kitty’ song to me?”

“Positive,” I said.

“Well, then I guess we’ll just have to sit here and talk some more about my will, where to spread my ashes, and exactly what I want you to write in my eulogy.”

“Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur. Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr, purr, purr.”

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