My sister and I were talking yesterday. In person. (We can do that now that we live closer to each other.)
We were discussing how like our mother we are in relation to illness. Mum has no truck with people who are sick. It’s all in their heads. If they wanted to get better they would, and if they’d been more determined they wouldn’t have been sick in the first place. You sneeze and say I’m getting a cold and Mum would respond with ‘stop it. You’ll talk yourself into getting sick’.
Deb and I are like our mother. People allow themselves to get sick. They don’t talk themselves out of it. We have an absolute conviction that illness can be stopped with the right attitude. In fact, Dad used to say it a lot when we were kids: mind over matter. We developed strong minds.
Deb and I are doomed – it comes from both parents.
I felt good yesterday to discover that I wasn’t the only one with this attitude (besides my mother). Deb has it too. We joked about it, and felt good about being so self-aware as we wondered down the main street of Bright, laughing that it was only in this that we were like our mother.
Our self-awareness hasn’t changed our attitude though.
And without wanting to jinx ourselves, Deb and I tend not to get sick. And neither does Mum. Everyone around us might be burning up with fever, coughing and sneezing their hearts out, have throats red raw, be laid flat with whatever’s going around and we tend to sail on through unscathed.
When we do get sick though, we get sick. Mum was sick earlier in the year. Her and Dad were visiting Tasmania and then our new place and she wasn’t at all well. But would she take it easy? Not on your life! No giving in to a cold, no spending time resting up … taking it easy is for wimps, and by golly our mother is not a wimp.
Sickness is for the weak, and she is strong.
Let me just say, as an aside, that people who have this attitude are very bad patients!
Deb and I have, it seems, inherited her attitude. And thankfully, her constitution. We rarely get sick.
We joke about our attitude, and in mixed company pretend that we really don’t think that sickness is for the weak and that if you really wanted you wouldn’t get sick in the first place … but in our hearts we know that it’s not pretend. It’s a truth we live with.
It’s not an easy thing to admit so openly. Turn it around for a moment and imagine how hard it must be for us, having no patience with a loved one curled up in a ball on the couch, red-nosed and sounding like Shirley Bassey on a bad day. Imagine how difficult it is for us to make soothing noises, to make chicken soup, to fuss over the pain-ridden … oh forget it, you obviously didn’t look after yourself properly and you’ve let yourself get sick. Stop giving in to it.
There, I’ve said it. It’s out there.
But, we know about our attitude and we are pleased that as we get older we’re better at biting our tongues and being sympathetic.
Or so we think.
Our husbands, it seems, think differently.