Spoke Too Soon…

Dear Readers, after feeling as if I was on the mend yesterday my fever has come back with a vengeance today. What the hell is going on? Maybe that quip about malaria isn’t so wide of the mark. Anyhow, at least I’m not working so I can crash out in bed with my teeth chattering. There are different schools of thought on whether you’re better off bringing the fever down, or letting it run its course – the fever is the body’s way of fighting the infection but it doesn’t make it a lot of fun for the battleground (i.e. me). So, I am holding on for as long as possible and then taking paracetamol when I can’t stand it any more. Hopefully it will all sort itself out. It would be heavily ironic to have a week off and be sick until it’s time to go back to work.


What I wanted to say was that I never miss my Mum so much as when I’m sick. I feel myself longing for her instinctive way of comforting and coaxing, her patience and those lovely cold hands on my forehead. She was always at the ready with a tin of Heinz tomato soup, or fish with mashed potato and a parsley sauce, or a boiled egg with soldiers. Best of all were the chilled tinned peaches with Bird’s custard. She could persuade anyone to eat, my Mum.

Sometimes when we were children we’d have what were described as ‘bilious attacks’. These generally involved vomiting all over ourselves and the bedclothes. My long hair was a particular challenge. Mum would change the sheets, wash my hair, change the pyjamas, put me back into bed and sing a medley of songs from the early sixties. She had a great fondness for Ghost Riders in the Sky, I remember, and also ‘The Girl in the Wood‘ – clearly Frankie Laine was a favourite. Generally, an hour after we’d gone to sleep we’d do it all over again. I never had the sense that Mum was the slightest bit irritated, but of course I didn’t appreciate it at the time. I remember that poem about love’s ‘austere and lonely offices’ by Robert Hayden, and it seems to me that that is what love is – the things that you do when you don’t feel like it, the little things that no one even notices at the time. I remember those nights, with Mum singing in the semi-darkness as a kind of magic. It seemed to me that she could heal anything, and I had absolute faith in her ability to know what to do. What a responsibility, and yet it felt like what she was born to do.

I still miss you, Mum. I always will.

8 thoughts on “Spoke Too Soon…

  1. sllgatsby

    My mom wasn’t great at dealing with sick people and from a young age, I remember having to clean up my own vomit because she said she would have a “sympathetic reaction” if she did.

    When I had a child, I was determined to be the kind of mother yours was. I hope his memories will be as fond as yours are! I used to sing Steeleye Span songs when my son was young! I wonder if he will remember “Cannily Cannily” and “My Johnny Was a Shoemaker?” Now I read aloud.

    I love the idea of cold canned peaches and custard.

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      Hi sllgatsby, cleaning up your own vomit as a child must have been very hard :-(. But how lovely that you imbued your little one with the spirit of Steeleye Span from such a young age. But where is ‘All Around My Hat?’, surely the catchiest song they ever did?

  2. rosni3

    Lovely tribute to your mum, but I am so so sorry you’ve gone a bit backwards not forwards since yesterday. That must be quite some (other) virus whatever it is. Be good if they cd find out which, and/or re-test for Covid. Mind you, they do say Covid has a good few competitors out there. I’d been going to write yesterday to say I was glad you were on the mend but today thought it was probably a good thing I hadn’t got round to it. You produced a fab piece on the butterflies and the bees!

  3. Liz Norbury

    So sorry to hear that you are still unwell, and I do hope you feel better soon.

    The photo of your mum brought a lump to my throat, and I had a shock of recognition when I read your post. I can remember drifting in and out of sleep listening to my mum gently singing “Sleep then, my princess, oh sleep” (which I now know to be Mozart’s Cradle Song) and feeling safe and loved.

    Mum nursed my sister and me through childhood illnesses with endless love, patience and, yes, tomato soup – usually Crosse & Blackwell rather than Heinz. I remember wondering why there was an ‘e’ at the end of Crosse (even as a child, I was pedantic about language!). And like your mum, mine brought us tinned peaches and custard in bed – my granny told me that this was something she did when Mum was little. Two generations on, I would give my son bananas in custard instead of peaches when he was ill, but I kept the tomato soup tradition unchanged!

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      🙂 I love that you were cross(e) about the ‘e’ Liz, I was (and am) a pedant about language too. I could actually eat a bowl of bananas and custard right now 🙂


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