Just to set the scene...

Every person has strengths and weaknesses. Things they can handle, things they can’t.  It’s what makes the world go round.

My topic today... a weakness. Or really, maybe just the opposite, the ultimate strength.

My mom has always been there to care for us growing up. She nursed us back to health whenever we got sick. Opening windows, changing sheets, baths, warm clothes, braided hair, soup, toast, and medicine... whatever was needed, she was there. That is, unless the 'ultimate' happened. Forgive me for the directness, but there is no other way. Vomiting. Yup, that utterly disgusting part of getting sick. This was Mom’s Achilles heal. She tried her best to be supportive, but the gag reflect just would not allow.

There she was, with a brood of sick children. She tried to pat our backs, hand us cold wet towels for our heads, soothe our despair and tears over our ‘moment’... but all I remember is her patting a comfort, then choking and gagging. She wasn’t sick, mind you. Not in the health related term. But she was sick. Each time one of us heaved, so too did Mom. It was quite the scene.

I remember the day my sisters and I were all sick.  Pat, pat, pat on our little backs.. and she was off heaving.

Some how we all made it through. Thankfully those ‘ultimate’ moments didn’t happen too often. And when they did, it was usually one child at a time.

In these ‘moments’ of weakness, Mom showed her ultimate strength... Motherhood.


Knowing about my Mom’s sensitive gag reflex, Dad - of course - took full advantage. Selfish man!

I am going to oust my age... remember the toothpaste Gleam? It was a big deal when it came out. Most toothpastes were pasty white, thick and doughy. Gleam was translucent green, with a consistency that was looser, much more gluey. It was pretty the way it glistened and shined. What a contrast to the original plain paste. I remember getting it for the first time. Everyone in the house wanted to try this new fancy concoction.

How funny? We - especially my little darlings - still go through excitement over new toothpastes. Only now it is due to new funky shaped tubes and containers... or fluorescent colors, stripes, sparkles... or those curious breath freshening beads... There seems to be no end to the variations.

Back to Gleam...

Dad had just finished trying it in the upstairs bathroom. The rest of us were in the kitchen. Down the stairs he bounded.  Into the kitchen he walked with a spirited gate. The man was purpose driven.

‘Janice. I must be coming down with a cold...’

And with that, he sneezed the biggest - loudest - sneeze he could muster. Both his hands theatrically stayed in place, covering his mouth. He scrunched his eyes indicating something disgusting had just happened. Slowly, ever so slowly, he lowered his hands.  As he removed them from his face, big, gooey, sticky globs of green oozed out all over... between his fingers... dripping in long looping, stringy strands... his face was covered.  

We all screamed in disgust and surprise... Except Mom. She immediately started gagging. Then running. Then gagging and running... as quick as she could for the bathroom. We children didn’t know what to watch... Mom or Dad?!

Boy?! Dad must be getting really sick. We never had a sneeze like that! And there goes Mom, dry heaving all the way down the hall. It was quite the show.

It got even 'uglier'... Dad went from being visibly ‘sick’ to mass hysteria. That is, as soon as Mom was surely out of sight. He began laughing uncontrollably, trying unsuccessfully to quiet the noises coming out of his Gleam covered face... Yes, Gleam!

He could not contain himself - much less the kids that were now cackling all over him for his odd humor moment at Mom’s expense.  He stooped over the kitchen sink, washing the now useless, new exciting toothpaste down the drain.

Mom made her way back into the kitchen. She was about as green as the Gleam. She realized she had been had. We kids outed Dad immediately in the hopes of easing her dilemma.

Dad wasn’t helping the situation... he was still laughing... Mom was a good sport.  As good as one can be when your green. 

~ Nancy