My wife is sick.

Fortunately, it's just the flu.

Sad to live in a time where having the flu is GOOD news.

Every year I inoculate myself against the various bugs and viruses that will save the Earth when space aliens come to conquer it. My wife, who I like to tease when she's sick, makes sure I do.

"I've never had the flu in my life," I tried telling her once.

"What does that have to do with anything?" she said, ending the conversation.

True, I've never had the flu in my life, but maybe the shots I took had something to do with that. I've never had polio, either. Or whooping cough, or any number of childhood diseases, and I can thank my lucky stars or my parents who made sure I got my childhood vaccinations. I choose to thank my parents. The generations before mine weren't so fortunate. Just ask FDR.

My first wife used to drive me nuts when I was sick. I'd be in bed, trying to sleep, and she'd come in constantly.

"Are you awake?" she would ask.

"Let me sleep," I'd say. "I'm begging you."

And she would. But not for long. I'm not saying that was the reason we eventually got divorced, but it could have been one of the reasons.

Hmm... maybe I should rethink this whole teasing my wife thing.

My father doesn't know what to do with himself when my wife is sick. He's quite capable of fending for himself, but doing it is another matter. She has him extremely spoiled, you see.

When he sits in his favorite chair in the den, she'll even turn the TV on for him.

"What channel, dad?" she'll ask, but I don't know why she bothers. He always wants it on the baseball channel. Once my father's comfortable, she'll ask if he wants something to eat. "Some ice cream?"

"Ice cream?" he'll say. "I don't know. What flavor do you have?"

"We have chocolate and vanilla."

"Any strawberry?"

"Strawberry, too."

"Hmm..." he'll contemplate.

It's the same three flavors we always have, but it takes him a few minutes to decide. My wife is a saint. She'll wait patiently for him to answer.

"Strawberry," he'll finally say, "but not too much. You always serve me too much."

I don't say anything. What I'm thinking is, "Instead of complaining, how about just saying thank you," but, like I said, I don't say anything.

So my wife will bring him a small bowl of strawberry ice cream. She'll even add a few cookies on the side. My father likes cookies, as long as they're soft.

When it's time to eat, I have no problem serving myself. My wife's a busy lady. She works hard cooking great meals, so serving myself is the least I can do. My father, on the other hand, just plops himself down and waits to be catered to. He won't eat, unless he's served. He's 93-years-old. I guess I shouldn't complain.

With my wife sick, it's another story. I don't baby him. I'll cook, but it's up to him to serve himself. Yesterday, when he got up, I was just about done making breakfast. There was some steak from the night before. I cut it up into pieces and heated it in the frying pan, scrambling some eggs to go with it.

"You hungry, pop?"

"What are you making?"

"Steak and eggs."

"Steak and eggs?" he said, slowly considering it. "Well, I am hungry."

By that time, I had served myself and was already sitting at the table.

"Well, help yourself," I told him.

And he did.

Later that night, my lovely daughter brought him dinner.

"What is it?" he asked her.

"Gumbo," she said.

"Oh, boy," he said, happily. "I like gumbo," and, again, he just plopped himself down at the table and waited expectantly. No thank you for the gumbo. No thank you for the personalized service. No thank you at all. For dessert, she brought him some ice cream.

"That's too much," he told her.

"Sorry, grandpa," she said.

It may have been too much, but that didn't keep him from finishing it.

This morning, my wife was still in bed. Before my father went on his walk, I told him, "I don't think she's coming downstairs, pop."

He mumbled something and left.

While he was gone, I fed the dogs and cleaned up. I worked fast, because I wanted to get in an early workout. I was supposed to pick up my grandson later. He spent the night with his auntie. She picks him up several times a month, wines and dines him, and I usually pick him up later in the day. Last night was the first time he had spent the night at her house.

I went upstairs to see how my beautiful wife was doing.

"Feeling better?" I asked her.




"Can I get you something?"


"Are you thirsty?"

"No, I just want to water my plants."

My wife. The new Don Rickles.

I went downstairs and found my father sitting in front of a TV he hadn't bothered to turn on. Was he waiting for someone to do it for him?

Sadly, today he's on his own.

Still, my conscience tugged at me. It was sad seeing him sitting alone in a dark room. There was a time when my father was young and strong and had the world by theā€¦ well, you know. Now, he's just an old man sitting by himself. We're all heading there, I guess.

If we live long enough.

You can avoid growing up, but you can't help growing old.