Life Deconstructed: Trying to keep my sanity, in sickness and in health

Life Deconstructed - Maria Jiunta Heck

I’m sick.


Apparently someone with hearty germs was able to penetrate the plastic bubble with which I’ve always surrounded myself, giving me a high threshold of immunity and mother-resistant germ-spreading, yet here I am with an upper respiratory infection.

For an asthmatic, this is no stroll in the park. It is, however, a stroll through a mine field dotted with live microorganism artillery, detonating every time I cough and bring up an entire valley of bacteria.

Maybe don’t read this column while eating breakfast.

In the past, being sick meant pretending I wasn’t sick, because my kids needed me. They never acknowledged maternal sickness the same way I’ve never acknowledged them being of legal drinking age.

So, I thought, empty nest means I can be sick in peace and there will be no one scratching at my door asking for grilled cheese sandwiches or where we keep the extra Q-tips.

Within seconds of me dropping into bed, my husband decided to clean the basement. This basement could have been cleaned any other day over the last 14 years, but he chose the day I was fighting Zika.

I was jarred awake by him screaming, two floors below me: “Where’s that twisty thing that belongs with this thing?!”

Ladies, why do they ask where something non-specific is when we are nowhere in the vicinity? They don’t even have the patience to wait for us to turn on our crystal ball.

I rasp: “I can’t hear or see what the hell you’re yelling about!”

Him: “This thing! It’s missing the thing that keeps it together! It’s useless without that thing!”

Me: “Please leave me alone. I’m dying.”

Him: “Dramatic …”

Me: “That I heard clearly!”

This went on for two days. I almost prayed his girlfriend, Joey, would take him away to play golf. Maybe he would find a new wife at Fox Hill. One without black lung.

Additionally, my phone buzzed continuously.

Child No. 3 from WVU: “Mom! My sheet keeps slipping off the bed! You gave me the wrong ones! What am I supposed to do?”

Me: “What you’re supposed to do, Einstein, is open the rest of the sheet set and grab the fitted sheet which is the one you were supposed to put on the bed first.”

Eye roll.

Another call.

Child No. 3 again: “Detergent pods, they’re like, really hard to peel. Can I cut them out of their plastic covering or …?”

Me: “You’re kidding, right?! You don’t peel them! You throw them in the washer just like that!”

Eye roll.

No. 3: “Well how am I supposed to know? We never used these at home because you always said they were a rip-off!”

I was just turning-off my phone when my daughter called. She received my wedding gift to her. I had my mother’s old watch rebuilt so she had something “old” to wear on her wedding day.

Daughter: “Mom, this watch doesn’t work.”

“What! It was a fortune to fix! How can that be?”

Daughter: “I don’t know. But it says the wrong time.”

Face palm.

Eye roll.

“Honey. You have to pull out the little pin and set the time and then wind it!”

Daughter: “What does that even mean? Why would I have to wind it?”

“Because! Back in the day, before you had a watch that was also a computer, that’s how watches operated. Without batteries or fairy dust!”

Daughter: “Wow. This seems like a lot of work.”


I went back to bed, locked the door and shut off the phone.

Don’t anyone pull out my pin and wind me up. Please just let me lie here to fester until I find the twisty thing that makes the other thing work.

Life Deconstructed

Maria Jiunta Heck

Maria Jiunta Heck of West Pittston is a mother of three and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life. Send Maria an email at

Maria Jiunta Heck of West Pittston is a mother of three and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life. Send Maria an email at

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