Today I have the flu.


Yesterday I also had the flu. I stayed quarantined in bed the whole day except for timely trips to the bathroom. I have giant sneezes that appear suddenly and with such force that they drive my head back into my pillow. My body aches. It begs me not to shift positions in bed. There’s an irritating buzz in my ears I don’t think was there before.


This afternoon, an important person from the East Coast is coming to visit me at the office. He will be flying in and flying out the same day. The meeting has been planned for some time and no one can take my place. It’s not like I’m so important but, in this case, I’m the only one who can answer the questions he has.


As I lay in bed feeling sorry for myself, I think of other days when I feel tired, stressed or frightened, when I think that I just might not do what I’m supposed to do. Why not hide my head under my warm blue blanket and just disappear from my responsibilities? My mind goes to excuses. I start to exaggerate what is ailing me.


There is something magical about those moments. It must go back to my mother, Irene Duffy Kuhl, who I watched walk a mile or two in heels to get to work at the Ames Trust and Savings Bank at 7 a.m., often through the cold and snow of an Iowa winter. She never sloughed off on her duties at home, at work or at her church.


In some way, I think she is watching me and that I’ll be in for a good scolding if I don’t hop out of bed, take a shower, put on my dress-up clothes and will myself into the office. I’ll bring cough drops. And Kleenex. I don’t think I’m still contagious, but I will be careful not to breathe on anyone I consider a friend.


Over many years, I’ve discovered I can place most people in two categories: those who stay in bed and those who show up. I appreciate those who show up, but there’s just enough warmth in my blue blanket to understand the temptations and the choices made by the other group.


But today at least, I’m headed for the office. Are you watching, mom?