In the summer of 1991, I was very pregnant with our daughter and very hot. Compared to our current heat wave, it wasn’t even close, I don’t think the temperatures even hit 30 C, but when you are very pregnant and very hot, you are grateful for the cool basement of a house.
At the time, my girlfriend, who we will call Mary, had two daughters who were near the same age as our two sons, (three and five) and they had come down with Chicken Pox. I was reminded of my eighth birthday dinner at which my mother made me eat on Margot Kidder’s cousin’s sick bed, so that I would catch her case of the Chicken Pox. The incubation period after my birthday would time the illness perfectly so I that wouldn’t miss any school. The illness was usually milder the younger you were and if you could “time it”, my mother thought, all the better. My Mom’s plan worked, so 27 years later, I invited Mary and her virus riddled daughters over to play with our boys.
Two weeks passed and then, as hoped, both of our boys came down with their own bumps and itches. In a manner of speaking, I thought of it as a win.
So the boys were sick, I was very pregnant and E was off earning a living. I parked my sit-me-down in E’s Grandmother’s big old stuffed chair in our basement, pulled out the VHS collection and turned on the only TV we owned which was a 13 inch white one, that I had bought at the Hudson’s Bay with my girlfriend Hilary when we shared an apartment on Dunbar in 1977.
The boys lay on the couch together slathered in calamine lotion watching movies, with titles like Land Before Time and Mary Poppins, for two weeks in the cool basement, while I handed them continuous bowls of ice cream. They had very mild cases, never had to worry about catching Chicken pox in school, and I got to sit in the basement with two quiet, albeit sick, boys eating ice cream and snoozing for two weeks just before the baby arrived. By the time that baby was four years old there was a vaccine and she never got either the disease, or to lay on the couch for two weeks eating unlimited ice cream with her Mom.
I have had to throw my garden watering plan out the window this week. I need to get the plants through the heat wave so am watering daily. The garden is usually several degrees warmer than it is down at the house and the house is 36 degrees right now. My chores are finished in the garden at 7 am and then I return to my spot in front of the fan in the house with the shades drawn. Without a basement any more and living in what could be considered a glass house, I have absolutely no ambition and no shame in taking two days to read a book in front of a fan on the couch.
The dogs are dealing with it in their own way. Piper alternates between laying beside me on the couch in front of the fan, and on the cool tile at the door. Shanty has, for some reason, decided the best way to deal with the heat is under the chair, while keeping her nose out to source potential food opportunities.
In 1990, when I worked for a big blue company, I knew a man who got chicken pox in his forties. It was brutal, he missed weeks of work and the rash was in his mouth, nose and ears and he was in terrible pain. Ick. How did he not have it as a child? What was his Mother thinking?
Honestly, I don’t know why neither my Mother nor I were never up for a Mother of
the year award