[Originally published December 2013].
When we were at home sick from school, our mother would bundle us up in a couple of blankets, lay us on the couch in the living room, give us a book to read (if we were up to it), and put on her jazz albums to keep us company. To this day, when I am at home sick, I bundle up on the couch with a book and music instead of crawling into bed. But the one thing that is missing is my father’s comforting hand on my forehead.
On the days we stayed home sick from school, the moment he came home from work he would come straight over to the couch, sit down next to us, place his hand on top of our heads and stroke our foreheads with his large thumb. “Mmmm…sick kid,” he’d coo. He’d continue to stroke our forehead for another few seconds before giving us a pat on the shoulder, leaving us to our continued convalescence on the couch.
No matter how awful I was feeling, I always loved those couple of minutes with my dad.
We were all in the room when he came-to after his 8 hour surgery—a month before he passed away. He was disoriented, frightened, in pain, and angry, despite the strong narcotics that were supposed to abate all of that. He waved us all off, “get the hell out!” But I ignored his command and sat down next to him on the bed. I placed my hand on his head and started stroking his forehead with my thumb. I leaned in and whispered, “Sick kid.” He glared at me, but I kept stroking his forehead. His eyes gradually softened. He rolled his head to one side, and as I kept on stroking his forehead, he fell asleep.
Regardless how awful he was feeling that day, I’ll always love those couple of minutes with my dad.