From Home, Sick to Homesick

There comes an age when you realize the difference between homesick and home, sick.

Homesickness happens after moving out of state. You miss the backyard you grew up in, your family and friends, whatever it may be that just isn’t the same in your new digs. Home, sick happens when you’re too hungover to function or you’re legitimately ill, sometimes even ill due to the hangover. Most importantly, home, sick, as an adult, is when you realize how great it was when your parents were there to take care of you. Home, sick leads to homesick.

Maybe it was because I have no siblings, but my parents upped the love when I had what my father referred to as “the punies,” always pronounced with an exaggerated pout and a pat on the head, whether I was six or sixteen. He’d then quickly step away and make an x with his index fingers. “Love you, but I don’t want it,” he said, shaking his head sadly.

Though usually Mom was the one to stay home with me when I was sick, kissing my forehead to check my temperature and forcing Gatorade down my throat at twenty-minute intervals as necessary, I was always antsy waiting for Dad to get home from work. Parents are usually pretty great sympathizers, at least when you’re little.

It was one thing I could look forward to without having to leave my couch and blanket and the stack of movies Mom always rented for me. I think she got Short Circuit about six times. I was sick at almost every holiday, so if she had to stay with her “sickie,” as my nickname came to be when under the weather, she may as well entertain us both.

The day after Christmas when I was three years old, I had the flu. Dad went out to a flower shop of all things and bought me a teddy bear wearing a headband and a navy blue t-shirt that announced he was “Born In The U.S.A.” He named him “Bruce” for me, and at the time I had no idea that he was referring to The Boss.

My mom wanted to kill him, as Bruce clearly won my affection over the Christmas gifts I had received twenty-four hours prior. The miniature Snuffalupagus may have been awesome, but Bruce prevailed. He made the trip to New York with me nineteen years later.

While Dad added to the “fun” element of illness, Mom covered practical. It’s not that he was useless…moms are just a little more diligent with their own remedies.

I still call my mother if I’m sick. I still wish she could just show up at my apartment and sort of mush my cheeks with her hands and see if I have “a temperature,” or rather, an alarmingly high temperature. And as I’m self-medicating and whining over the phone instead of from her couch, I can’t help but long for the days when they could cross the hall to check in instead of listing seventeen cold meds I should get from Duane Reade.

Sick away from home? What do you do to help get by?

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