Columbia Star

1963        Celebrating 60 Years      2023

Growing out of toughness




I did not grow up with one of those mothers who babied me when I had a cold. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

I was probably one of those kids who all the other mothers hated because I came to school with multiple communicable ailments. I sneezed and coughed my way through “Dick and Jane” stories and forced the school to break out the vermiculite on more than one occasion. (For those unfamiliar with vermiculite, that was the magic green stuff they sprinkled on throw-up and many other liquid-ish substances that found their way onto the floors of most elementary schools).

Sure, I had perfect attendance, but I’m pretty sure I was single-handedly responsible for creating multiple sick days for more than half my classmates and a few teachers. I couldn’t help it, and neither could my mom. It was next to impossible for her to miss work and baby me through the sniffles or any other childhood sickness.

I was a bit of a pariah, but I was no mama’s boy (at least when it came to colds). No fever could hold me back. No dusting of vermiculite was going to ruin my studies. No mother’s touch was necessary for me to get through cold and flu season. I grew up tough and eventually developed an immune system more effective than a HAZMAT suit and a can of Lysol.

But for some reason, like my height, my immunity and toughness—especially the toughness— seems to be shrinking away.

Recently, my wife and I both caught a nasty little bug. My wife got it first and then passed it on to me.

I didn’t think much of this cold when my wife had it because while she mentioned it a little, she basically powered through living on Advil Cold and Sinus. She had no problem going on a 14-hour (each way) road trip and went to multiple tours, activities, and a freezing cold football game without the first complaint.

Then Icaught this seemingly harmless cold, and suddenly this tiny virus morphed into the Black Plague… or at least that’s what it felt like to me.

While my wife was battling this thing, she was cheering in a sub-zero football stadium nearly 800 miles from home. I caught it and couldn’t find the strength to lift my head off the couch in the comfort of my own living room just to watch the Tigers and Gamecocks play on ESPN.

My wife just needed pseudoephedrine while I needed my mommy. What the heck is happening to me? As a little boy, I could fight off a fever in math class and be ready for recess moments later. As a man, I can’t fight anything but the urge to curl up into a little ball and groan hoping against hope someone will give me a little sympathy.

That’s hard to come by in my house, especially when the wife had already powered through snow flurries and pep rallies with the same illness that glued me to a couch for several days.

The most I got from her was a slightly evil chuckle and a, “Yeah, it’s not much fun is it?” No, it’s not.

Fortunately for me, this isn’t like ear hair, shrinking from 5’-7” to 5’- 6” in a year, or some of the other joys of aging. I don’t have to deal with my newfound whininess, but unfortunately for my super tough wife, she does.

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