If you grew up with me and happened to have the flue, a fever, the measles, the mumps, or an earache you were given some very special attention in the form of two items of clothing. First, the earache hat, a little homemade flannel bonnet mom placed on our heads if we were suffering the pain of an ear infection. It helped us feel cozy. It felt like a little bonnet of loving care tied securely with a bow under the chin. It also secured the soothing warm drops of oil my mother placed in the effected ear using a little teaspoon and the bit of cotton in the tender ear.
The other piece of clothing we affectionately refer to as “the sick coat.” This was a little jacket with a Hawaiian print on the outside and a terrycloth lining. If one of us was feeling under the weather we got to wear the “sick coat.” Like the earache hat, the little jacket felt like instant tender loving care. I was the first child married with children of my own and I inherited both these treasures and carried on the tradition. As a mother I could see that the wearing of the “sick coat” sent more than a message of love. It was a sign to my child that he or she was in a condition where extra care was needed. It helped them resist the temptation to declare themselves “all better” too early.
It requires a great deal of tender care to continue to make progress in our spiritual health. It’s so tempting, especially when we begin to feel a little better, to stop taking care of ourselves spiritually and physically the way we need to. When I neglect my spiritual and physical care, just like the child who goes out to play too soon, my old symptoms return. The memory of the “sick coat” comes to my mind. In a sense living in recovery requires me to put on such a little jacket every day of my life. It reminds me that I am loved and it helps me remain aware that I am in a vulnerable condition diagnosed as mortality, where continuous care is needed.
By Nannette W.
Posted Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Copyright 2008 by Nannette W.
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