Thursday, June 3, 2010

White Ribbons of Remembrance

It is Thursday which of course means it is Theme Thursday. I know it is Thursday because every Friday I refill my old lady grandma pill holder and I only have one day left of pills. You know that thing that has the days of the week on it and you put the 45,000 pills you have to take every morning in it so you can keep up with what day it is. Really that is why I take all those pills, not because I’m sick or don’t absorb calcium but because if I didn’t I wouldn’t know what day of the week it was.

Oh and let me tell you something else the last time I went to see Dr. Wonderful I got a whole new passel of medications that I have to take at night. So now not only do I have one of those pill dispensers for my morning ritual I now have one for nighttime. I sit in bed watching the 10 o’clock news squinting at my dispensary trying to figure out if it says a.m. or p.m. on it. I digress.

This week’s theme is White. White is a difficult thing to write about because really what is it? It is the absence of color. I am a colorful person. I love color but mother loved white. It represented cleanliness and health. Oh you could find her in a chartreuse jacket or magenta pants but it was always paired with white. She wore white every day to work and every day in her off duty life. Read Nurse Meme’s interaction with white and then go on over to Theme Thursday and read what my cohorts have written. Now I’m off to refill my pill dispenser with little white pills. “One pill makes you Barney, the other makes you Fred…go ask Wilma, what Dino said…..”

The box sat on the table along with some hand picked dandelions in an old jelly jar. It was her birthday. Nurse Meme didn’t celebrate birthdays as a child. She had no one with whom to celebrate. It was different now that she had a family. She had a husband and three little kids who were excited to celebrate her birthday. She knew money was tight. She knew that both she and Trooper Bob were picking up extra shifts just to make ends meet. Yet here sat a box wrapped in last Sunday’s funny papers. She didn’t quite know what to say.

Meme had just gotten off of a double shift at the local hospital. It was her third double that week and her feet were aching, her back was paining and her brain was mush. She was exhausted and didn’t want to think about the hospital, sick people or ironing uniforms. She just wanted one day to relax and maybe if she was lucky, sleep. She looked at the eager faces of her children and knew that today would not be that day.

They had made her cinnamon toast and oatmeal, Gladys’ specialty. Matilda had poured a cup of coffee and added just the right amount of cream. Buck drew the picture for the hand made card and had risked an asthma attack arranging the bright yellow weeds in the jar. It was a birthday breakfast fit for a queen. Nurse Meme sat at the table and nibbled on burned toast and clumpy oatmeal. “What have you kids done? This looks really interesting” she said between bites. The three children gleamed with pride as they urged her to read her card.

Nurse Meme opened the envelope and took out the folded construction paper. She read the misspelled words and the picture of the hand drawn dinosaur. “Oh this is wonderful she cried.” Trooper Bob sat across the table sipping his coffee and watching the goings on “Go on open your present” he urged. She pulled the box closer to her and began carefully pulling the tape off Dagwood and Beatle Bailey. She slowly and precisely folded each piece of paper and put it to the side while her kids wiggled and squirmed wanting to shred the paper to get to the box. “What did we get you Momma” they cried.

She lifted the lid from the box and pushed back a wad of tissue paper. She looked in the box and a tear came to her eye. She sighed heavily and announced in a defeated voice “oh look! You guys got me a new white uniform for work! Thank YOU!” Then she hugged each of her children and sat the box to the side. Trooper Bob proudly got up and retrieved another box, wrapped in shiny white paper with a big white bow and announced “that’s not all. We got you this too.” Nurse Meme’s eyes lit up as she took the box from her husband. “Oh you shouldn’t have” she cried as she again painstakingly tore each piece of tape from the waxy paper and folded, ribbon, paper and tape in a neat little pile. She once again lifted the lid from the container and looked inside. “Oh, gee, YOU REALLY SHOULDN’T HAVE” she exclaimed as she lifted a brand new Proctor Silex steam iron from the box.

Once again she gave hugs and kisses all around. She stood up and carefully placed her new possessions in their rightful places and slowly drug her exhausted and disappointed body to bed.

Years passed and birthdays came and went. Nurse Meme was ailing and in the final days of her life. She was lying under the cool white sheets in a sparkling clean white room with tubes and wires protruding from all parts of her body. She had a white turban wrapped around her hairless head and was fighting to pull enough oxygen into her body to get through another minute. Gladys sat on her bed chattering away. “Momma, remember when I was 13 and it was my birthday? It was on Friday the 13th? Remember how upset I was? Remember how I thought it was going to be a horrible awful day and you kept telling me to get over myself? Then I came home from school and you had bought me that really cool 10 speed bike that I wanted? Yeah that was one of my best birthdays ever.” Nurse Meme smiled and then whispered “remember the year you guys gave me a new uniform and an iron?” Gladys thought back and was a little ashamed. Her mother had always made sure she had great presents. “Yes, and Momma I’m sorry about that.” Nurse Meme drew in as much breath as possible and said “I’m not. That was one of the greatest birthdays I had. We were all together. We were all healthy and we were happy. What I remember most was how beautiful that iron was wrapped in that shiny white paper.”

Nurse Meme once again reminded Gladys it’s not about the material gift but about the heart and soul behind it.


Tracy said...

Beautiful TT post.

Harnett-Hargrove said...

There is a lump in my throat...
and you prove in your writing that we can indeed think three thoughts at once. -J

Everyday Goddess said...

that one hit me hard!

i like the pill popping ditty, one pill makes you barney, etc. that's a hoot.

Brian Miller said...

you smile as you punch me...or make me smile as you punch me...happy tt!

Baino said...

So so bittersweet. A fellow blogger said to me recently that they were not too enamoured of Theme Thursday posts, then . . you come across a gem like this. Bless your mum. Then if someone bought me an iron for my birthday the paper had better be damn spesh!

moondustwriter said...

what a sweet memory - we never know what we last in those memory banks of our loved ones.

sweet theme thursday

Mrs4444 said...

What a sweet story. Thanks for sharing it.