The Big Sweetheart

Some people like to be alone when they’re sick, prone to wallowing in their misery. Others prefer company to take their mind off their woes. Still others want you to rearrange your entire existence to cater to their every whim. Nate gets adorable, confused and clingy.

Yesterday, Karen had an open house for her Quirky Works jewelry business. Nate had been a bit sick, glassy eyed and, as he is apt to get, somewhat hallucinatory. I thought I could run to the carriage barn to listen to music and read. It was not going to happen.

My phone rang while I was deep into Christopher Hitchens’ God is Not Great, with pianist Nicky Hopkins’ The Tin Man Was a Dreamer (lots of George Harrison on that disc) spinning on the turntable.


“Hey Dad.” Silence.

“Nate do you need me to come in or are you OK?” Giving him a reasonable selection of choices usually works. Knowing Nate, I can guess what he’s thinking.

“Can you hang out with me?” So much for my alone time, but I was good with that.

Nate was in the Big TV room, watching lousy 1980’s era Tom and Jerry cartoons. He needed to rest his aching tummy, so he lay down on the couch and covered his head with a fuzzy black blanket. From under cover he told me about a nightmare he’d had.

“I dreamed about my iPhone’s death.” Nate always has weird visions when he’s sick. Recently he bought an iPad and he loves it. In the process of switching from one device to the other, he’s begun to mourn the passing of his old electronic pal. It’s an iPod, but he always refers to it as a phone.

All day I would check in on Nate. When I needed to leave the room, I told him why and when I’d return.

“It’s fun to hang out with you,” he said, and it is, in a funny way. There’s some interaction, but it’s mostly Nate needing me nearby as he conducts an endless monologue. But his desire for company is a joy.

Later, as we watched the Grammys in bed, Nate wriggled his way in between me and Karen. He’s a hulk, so it isn’t very easy or very comfortable.

“My body’s getting better,” he announced. “My stomach’s coming back from the dead.”

That’s how the day ended and, this morning, he seems fine.


About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is the former Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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