Thursday, January 17, 2019

Nurse Meme Nurses

 When I was a little girl and I was sick, my mother would make me get up in the morning.  Take a bath/shower wash my face and get dressed.  Even if I wasn't going to school.  She would tell me it would make me feel better.  So I would do as told and get up and do my morning ritual.  I used to get so angry with her because damn it, didn't she know I was sick.  I felt like crap.
The last thing I wanted to do was get out of a nice warm bed crawl into a steaming hot shower, put on fresh clothes with a clean face and freshly brushed teeth.

  When I emerged from the bath I would find a clean, freshened bed with pillows plumped or a couch made up with sheets, blankets, and pillows which allowed me to lounge in comfort.  There I would lie for several hours at a time watching one of the three channels.  First, it would be the news then Let's Make a Deal and on into the afternoon where Days of Our Lives or General Hospital would entertain me with some awful drama.   More likely it would be playing in the background while I read my latest obsession, be it one of the Little House books or Anne of Green Gables or a Zane Grey I stole from my father's pile.

When I was six or maybe seven, I got really sick.  I had the flu that moved into scarlet fever and then snowballed into rheumatic fever.  I was down for a couple of months.  I read, watched TV, played with my dolls and pretended to be a princess who had been exiled to a strange and distant land.  I built forts from quilts absconded from the couch and the linen closet.  I drank gallons of soup from mugs and ate tons of grilled cheese sandwiches made by my mom.

She worked nights and tried to sleep all day.  During my illness instead of her going to bed when she got home from her shift, she would sleep on the couch, one eye open, jerking awake every time I coughed or blew my nose.  She was ever vigilant.  She would pop up wide awake, drink another cup of coffee as she prepared whatever medicine was needed at the time.  She made grilled cheese and tomato soup and fed me peeled oranges and apples cut into slices.  Eat she would say.  Eat your health.

She taught me many things, but one of the best things she taught me was to give yourself some love.  Get up, put on your lipstick and face the world.  You don’t have to go any further than the couch, but you have made the next step to feeling better.

It’s Flu Season.  If you did or didn’t get your flu shot, I hope you do not get inflicted.  If by some poor happenstance of luck you come down with the dreaded Captain Tripps or a bad case of Coxilliosis of the Blow Hole.  I have these words of advice.  Get up.  Take a hot shower.  Put on fresh clothes.  Eat your health.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

I'm Fine


          I had a headache.  My feet hurt.  My back was sore.  It was cold outside and I had things to get done.  I arrived at the UPS Store to find a long line of other procrastinators.  I took my place in line behind a woman about ten years my senior.  An attractive lady in the baby boomer uniform of jeggings, knee boots, and puffy vest, holding a Starbucks in one hand and a large overnight envelope in the other.  She stood as if she had not a care in the world.  She turned and smiled in greeting each time the door chimed, a gust of cold frosty air swept across her pink wrinkled face and blew her short silver hair from her bright blue eyes. 
            The door chimed, the chilly air swept a sigh through the room as a woman of equal age rushed in.  She spied her compatriot and quickly rushed to her side.  Now, we southern women greet one another in a time old fashion.  First, we squeal just a bit.  “Oh, my lort!  Ella May!  How in the world are you?  How’s your mommer and dem?”  Now keep in mind while this exchange begins our voices rise about two octaves and become twice as loud.  Second, we must hug.  Sometimes it is just a quick side hug; a quick squeeze and release.  If it is your church lady friend then it is the full-on greet your neighbor hug.  A front to front squeeze and a little bit longer linger.  If it is a long-lost friend who saved you from Bobby Joe in sixth grade in Dodgeball, then it is front to front full on bear hug that might or might not linger more than thirty seconds.   Finally, if it is that one friend that we all have, it is front to front full on bear hug with a back rub and a little squealing dance that usually last longer than is comfortable and might or might not end with a full-on mouth to mouth kiss.  This greeting was more in the Church Lady friend hug.
            The silver-haired woman was swept up into a hug while “Irma Jean!  How are you doing” was sung at a high loud pitch.   Irma Jean responded “I’m fine.  Just fine and how are you, Stacy?” 
            Stacy took a moment to quickly rundown the fact that her granddaughter was in her first year at S.M.U. and her son was getting ready to retire and he and his wife were going on a cruise.  She continued with the fact that she had just built a new house on the river and was getting ready to host the Sisters of Ruth annual Christmas party.  On and on she went about this and that.  Finally, she asked, “Irma Jean, how is your oldest daughter?”
Irma Jean smiled and wiped a tear from her eye “Oh, Tammy passed away last month.  The funeral was quite lovely.”
Stacy gasped “Oh, I am so sorry for your loss, I hadn’t heard.”  She squeezed Irma Jeans hand “And how is your husband?”
Irma Jean took a deep breath “Well, he’s on hospice.  You know his C.O.P.D. got really bad and then they found cancer and well, they don’t think he is going to make it to Christmas.  That is why I’m here mailing my Christmas cards.  I have things to get done before he goes.”
At this the room became quiet and the whole line of people was listening.  Stacy looked nervously around looking for a positive.  “Oh, I am so sorry.  Please send him mine and Jim’s best wishes.  We will be praying for him.  Now, your youngest daughter?  Is she still up in Denver?”
Irma shifted, took a sip of her coffee “Diane, is in a coma.  She is breathing on her own now but they don’t think she will come out of the coma.  She is in a nursing home here in town.  I go by and spend a couple of hours every morning with her.  Her husband has been a gem.”
             I am almost in tears.  The whole room is shifting from foot to foot and Stacy is speechless.    She clears her throat and marches on “Oh, my I hadn’t heard.  No wonder you haven’t been at the meetings or at church lately.  You have your hands full.  I almost hate to ask, but how is your son?”
            Irma sips her coffee and smiles “He had a heart attack last Monday.  They had to do a quadruple by-pass and he will be out of work for about six months.  They have moved in with me.  His wife has been such a God-send.  They have helped us catch up on the mortgage.  You know with all the medical bills I thought we were going to lose the farm.  They have helped so much and having all those kids around keeping the house active, has been really interesting.”
            I began ruminating on my complaints and realized, I had no complaints.  My life is good.  I am betting everyone in that room who was impatient and put-out about standing in line was feeling a little bit better about their life.   Then Stacy asked, “But Irma, how are you?”
            Irma Jean smiled a beaming smile “Oh honey, I’m fine.  Just fine.”
I wanted to scream “NO!  YOU ARE NOT FINE!!  YOUR LIFE IS SHIT!!!”  I wanted to give her one of those hugs where you linger too long and maybe even give her a big smooch.  I wanted to take her home with me and feed her chicken soup and wrap her in a blanket and let her watch sappy movies and drink hot cocoa. 
            Instead, I stood there.  I stood there a stranger to her, counting my blessings.  I stood there, my heart breaking for her.  Suddenly my back felt better, my headache wasn’t so bad and my feet were just fine. 
            At last, she made her way to the clerk, mailed her package and started out of the store.  One by one the patrons murmured to her “Merry Christmas, Irma Jean”.   “May God bless you, Irma Jean”. 
            It was my turn at the counter and the clerk asked: “how are you today?”
            “I am fine, truly fine” I answered.

Friday, November 30, 2018

They Call The Wind Mariah

You know how I come here and rant and rave?  You know how I go off on tangents?  I know my readers, all three of you, are saying, what?   Gladys goes off on tangents?  NEVER!  I know I rant and ramble.  According to my precious Aunt, I have always rambled.  Evidently, I used to sit and talk for hours and she would nod and smile and have no clue as to the nature of my oration.  Oh, who am I kidding?  People still smile and nod and have no clue as to the nature of my diatribe.  And, there I go again, digressing.

I am curious, where did politeness and common courtesy go?  Is it hiding under the bed?  Perhaps, it’s on the top shelf of the coat closet which no longer holds formal coats and jackets but instead is stuffed fuller than Fibber McGee’s closet with junk.  The one which when opened expels everything from hockey sticks to hobnails.  (Quick rush to Google and look-up Fibber McGee and hobnails, I’ll wait).  It is all but extinct, common courtesy that is.  Every once in a great while, a stranger will hold a door or greet you on the street, but it is a rarity. 

When the wind blows in my little neck of the woods, it wails.  It whistles and winds through the trees leaves scattering and swirling.  The dust puffs and paints the pavement with a coating of ever moving impressionistic paintings.  Harv Presnell, sings about it moving the stars around.  It was on one of those days that I was reminded of the loss of decorum and niceties.

Kahuna and I have been talking about buying a couch.  Not just a couch but a sectional.  Not just a sectional but it has to be very specific dimensions, fabric, and construction.  You see our last couches were purchased the year we were first a couple.  We bought two matching sofa’s that we made sure were long enough to nap on and when the back pillows were removed two people could sleep side by side.  We had the made specifically.  I mean you never know when a nap could overtake you.  As the boy scouts say, be prepared.   Alas, those couches are no longer ours having gone to a younger couple who can now have years of side by side naps.   We decided on a sectional so that we can seat enough people without needing a bunch of other furniture.  Honestly, if it were up to Kahuna, a bean bag chair and an orange crate would be fine.  Thank goodness it’s not up to him. 

Again, I digress.
We don’t have a lot of furniture stores in Itty Bitty City, heck, we don’t have a lot of stores of any kind.   I have been shopping for couches on-line.  The problem with shopping for couches online is you can’t sit on them.  I guess you could sit on your laptop, but, I’m afraid that would not be a good judge of it being a nap-able sofa.  There is nothing worse than a sofa that is not nap-able.  It has lumps or dips or isn’t wide enough or soft enough.  I decided to bite the bullet and stop by our local furniture store, Ye Old Furniture Shop. 
I pulled my little car into the parking lot as the wind whipped the leaves here and there, sand shifting on the asphalt.  The wind caught my door yanking it from my hand.  I stood just as a gust hit and flipped my hair over my face only to reverse and blow it back again.  I was pushed to the door by another errant gust, coat flapping, hair flipping, sand shifting pushing me all towards what might be the perfect napping couch.  I grabbed the door before the wind could bluster me back into the parking lot.  I took a deep breath of wood, leather, and foam as I entered the store. 

Waiting just inside the store, the proprietor, Buford, eyed me up and down, then glanced at the flapping door.   He scratched his beard, shut the door behind me and said: “Girl, comb your hair!”. 
Now, I have entered many an establishment to a variety of greetings.  How are you?   Can I help you?  It’s a great day at….   I can honestly say I have never been greeted with a disparaging remark about my hair.  Look, I have no illusions.  I know I have wild hair.  Some days it is wilder than others.  There are times it is so out of control all I can do is have a Shaman sage it and call it good.  Honestly, it has a mind of its own. I know the wind had whipped my hair.  It might have looked a wee bit out of place.  Did it warrant a greeting of “Comb your hair”?  I don’t know.  I just know that somewhere between women burning their bras and men not wearing fedoras and ties, we lost our sense of decorum.  We lost the finesse that once existed in civil social interactions.
How hard is it to say, Good Morning or Welcome to Sofas to Nap On?  I don’t understand.  What happened to be nice and polite?  What happened to civility?  I really couldn’t tell you.  Maybe it’s better this way.  Maybe we should all just say whatever comes to our minds.  Do away with our filters and just blurt out whatever pops into our minds. 
There I stood, windblown in his furniture store.  A customer there to search for the perfect napping sectional.  There to support him by patronizing his store, a local merchant.  I was stunned.  I was gobsmacked.  I was not speechless.   I closed my mouth, swallowed hard and replied: “and you just lost a sale”. 
I turned and grabbed for the door.  The wind grabbed it from my hand and yanked it open.  I walked out leaving Buford standing in the middle of some nice sized couches covered in dust and leaves with his hair blowing in the wind.  As I walked out whistling They Call The Wind Mariah.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018


When I was a kid my favorite time of year was summer.  It stayed light until ten.  I loved the smell of newly mown grass and sneaking down to the creek with my siblings to fish, hang out or just explore.  The cicadas would sing their songs and we would gather their exoskeletons and attach them to our ears like rare jewels.  The nymphs would crawl from their holes in the ground, attach to a surface and emerge as an imagoe to sing their song and live their short lives looking for a mate.  I loved watching the sky, a bright blue accompanied by big cotton candy clouds billowing in the afternoons with the promise of a cooling shower.  Summer rains were the best.  The sky would darken and open up to pour a cool liquid on the steaming pavement and the thirsty lawns and fields.  It was a magical time of year, lazy days that seemed to go on forever.  We went on trips to the lake and swimming pools.  We made our own fun, invented games and made up our own stories.  We were free range kids. 

Houses would open up and young tanned bodies would explode into the street after bowls of sugary sweet cereal and glasses of Tang.  We would ride bikes, build forts and in the heat of the day hiding in and under big Mulberry trees napping and reading comic books.  Our knees were skinned and our faces dirty but we were content. 

Then came the early vestiges of fall.  Leaves dropped like tears on the tired brown lawns as the winds became crisper.  The rain came in the form of spitting cold razors cutting through sweaters.  The days were shorter and our time of being free range children came to an end.  We were cooped up in a classroom with the paste eaters and silent flatulence emitters.  Instead of foraging and exploring we were forced to sit by the window as the rain fell or the wind blew keeping its own company.  Walter Cronkite and Chet Huntly spoke of the protest taking place on faraway college campuses as the street lights illuminated the near-empty streets. 
The days started cool and crisp, frost shinning on the still green blades of grass.  We ran from our houses in sweaters with our Buster Browns laced up tight.  Our mothers packed lunches of bologna sandwiches and thermoses of Campbell's chicken noodle soup.  Room mothers invaded our classroom with ghost-shaped cookies and orange and black Halloween taffy and in an instant, we were making turkeys from the imprint of our hand and brown and yellow construction paper.  Then the time would crawl as we prepared for the annual Christmas program.  We learned our songs and routines while mothers sewed red and green felt outfits.  Our excitement palpable

            As an adult, I have come to appreciate those days when the leaves turn and the wind changes.   I love that the green begins to morph into yellow, orange and brown.  The crispness on the kiss of the wind is refreshing and the chill is an excuse to bundle up and wrap my hands around a warm mug.  I watch the squirrels desperately gather their acorns for their winter stash with fascination and feel the need to fill my own cupboard with hearty comfort foods. 
            The light fades earlier and once again I find myself sitting watching the rain fall on empty streets that glisten like diamonds.  It is the putting to bed of the summer, giving it a good rest so that in three short months it can once again rejuvenate and give birth to a new, brighter world and free-range children.