It’s time for a short blog break–a pause in the action. My memoir will be published sometime in September–you’ll be the first to know! Thanks, everyone, for reading and keeping up with my adoption search and childhood memories. For me, each week was more fun than the last. I have truly enjoyed sharing my stories with you and always love reading your comments.
Young Love: An Adoptee’s Memoir tells the story of my 35 year search for my original identity. It is in the final stage before publishing and I am very excited. I am forever grateful to you, my readers, and can’t wait to share the book with you.
It’s summer and memories from my childhood continue to scramble to the surface of my mind. We are at our cottage on Curran’s Lake in Quebec, Canada. Dad came up on the weekends and that meant my brother, sister, and I would be required to work outside with him, often gathering brush.
Dad was a fussy taskmaster and that’s what made our lawn care so ironic and quite funny. God forbid the lawn would look manicured! Instead of mowing the lawn, Dad preferred the sickled look! When the grass reached eighteen inches or so, we’d receive our sickle and off we’d go. Yes, we were very young and a sickle has a very sharp, curved blade. I checked the Google definition: “a sickle is a hand tool and was used before machines for harvesting. The inside part of the curve is sharp, so the user can swing the blade against the crop’s base, catching it in the curve and slicing it.” Child’s play, right? Keep in mind, the lawnmower had already been invented! In the end, our lawn resembled a really bad haircut. But Dad was happy—he liked the cottagey, country look.
After swimming, Ian, Stephie, and I arranged our beach towels on the “lawn.” I can still see my towel draping over the uneven grass until I flopped down and flattened it out. I can’t say it was a ritual, but if memory serves me, we sunbathed after each swim, all summer long. I remember staring at the clouds and finding objects I loved.
A couple of days ago, all these years later, I was sitting out on our patio reflecting on summers at the cottage, Dad and his weekend chores, and beautiful clouds. As I sat there, an exquisite monarch butterfly, barely ten feet away, looked straight at me and opened its wings for a second or two and closed them. It kept opening and closing its wings as if communicating with me or at least attracting my attention, which indeed it did. I am thrilled to have seen a butterfly so colorful and gorgeous. No other interpretation of the event is necessary. However, there are numerous beliefs surrounding butterflies—they may represent a lost loved one or even our souls, positive change or freedom. Without sounding too far out there, I did feel my dad’s presence.
As I pondered topics for my blog this week, I realized that I’ve been writing for years. Yes, I am amazed that I never gave it much thought before. For example, when our school staff took a field trip to a local nursing home for our school-business partnership, I wrote about our magical school bus ride and the possibility we would never return. Ha! Or, when Paul and I took care of Ron and Kim’s goldendoodle for a week and I wrote a story for our grandchildren, Max’s Riverhead Vacation with lots of cute photos.
Another example is dear to my heart. Twelve years ago, I was just home from the hospital and I was learning about the need to rest after surgery. Paul went off to work and I found myself feeling a little upset remembering waking up in recovery… But I pieced together the details and decided to write about it to combat the bad memory. For some reason I do not recall, I submitted my story to the Buffalo News for a My View article. It was published May 2, 2007.
Nurse’s Kindness Was the Best Medicine of All
“I heard that,” I said softly. My recovery room nurse had sighed, not a big sigh and probably not meant to be heard. I’d regained consciousness fighting the pain in my back. It had nothing to do with the surgery, but I clearly remember my last thought before going under: “My back is going to kill me when this is over.”
I squirmed and struggled to get on my side to ease the pain in my back, causing the blood pressure cuff to become loose and who knows what other damage.
The IV brought pain relief and I began to calm down. As the team moved away, my nurse put final touches on all she could do to make me comfortable and began recording everything that had happened. Without looking up, she replied, “It’s my birthday.”
March 29—I’d known for months that on this day, I would have laparoscopic abdominal surgery at Buffalo General Hospital. At least, I prayed it would be laparoscopic. “Three Band-Aids, I want to wake up with 3 Band-Aids. I don’t care if the 6-inch abdominal incision is called a smile. I still want 3 Band-Aids.”
My need for reassurance and TLC began in the weeks way before March 29. Anticipating surgery is no fun. Thankfully, my son and his wife chose medical careers, and they provided me with information and assurances that everything would be OK. Paul and Emily would be allowed in the recovery room when I was ready for visitors.
My daughter-in-law had worked with my surgeon at Buffalo Medical School and they remembered each other. I would soon find out the immeasurable value of the connections we make when things are the most precarious in life.
I welcomed the news that it was my nurse’s birthday. March 29 now had a new meaning. She was in a reflective mood, pensive, no big plans. It had been a long day without a birthday reprieve. “But if they’d shortened your day, we wouldn’t have met,” I stated immediately. She smiled, and we continued to chat about life.
In my vulnerable state, our connection assured me I wasn’t just a name on her list. Her sweetness and kindness made me stronger in an otherwise foreign and frightening situation. It was her knowledge, skill and experience that initially calmed me down. Now it was her kindness that lifted me up.
Throughout my short stay at Buffalo General—another benefit of laparoscopic surgery—the extra caring ways of the staff made me appreciate their choice to work in a hospital, to help us during our most challenging times. I wonder if they know the importance of their every act of kindness, or are kind acts intuitive on the part of hospital people?
One of the nurses was having a tough time removing my IV syringe and all the clear sticky tape. “I’m really sorry if I’m hurting you,” she said repeatedly.
I got a kick out of the doctors’ measure of success. Everything is relative. For me, I never felt worse, but for them, the surgery was successful, and everyone agreed I was doing so well. In retrospect, I’m grateful. Their optimism pointed me forward. I would get better. They knew my prognosis better than I did, and gave me hope.
My recovery room nurse decided that she would take me to my room. Always the caregiver, she reminded me at every turn to keep my arms in. When we finally reached my room, she wished me well and gave me a hug. I thanked her for everything. Happy Birthday! March 29 was our day.
My biggest writing project ever, Young Love, An Adoptee’s Memoir is in its final editing round. I hope to have news for you soon about a publishing date.