small mother

I was already a mother when I became a mother. Long before I had my son. I just didn’t know it.

I became a mother at three. My mother had tuberculosis when I was born. Luckily she coughed blood a month before, otherwise I would not be here. I was born in a tuberculosis sanatorium, the first baby there in 25 years. My mother said that the staff was hugely excited about a baby. She was drugged to the gills while reading about the French Revolution and hallucinated Marie-Antonette’s head on a pole and the guillotine. She joked that she could never read about the French Revolution again. I was born, she kissed me, and I was swept away so that I would not get tuberculosis.

I was with my father and father’s family and then with my maternal grandparents. I came home to my parents at nine months. Adults kept handing me to other adults. I concluded that they were loving but stupid and couldn’t be trusted for a moment.

My sister was born five days before I turned three. My mother said that I met guests at the door and said, “Come see my baby.” Mine, because these adults don’t understand the needs of a baby, and I want her to feel loved and safe. No one will give my baby away!

Later my mother would tell a story about my sister worrying about Kindergarten. My mother could not reassure her. Neither could my father. I spoke up: “All you learn is colors, numbers and ABC and you already know those. I taught you.” My mother claimed that my sister was instantly reassured. I don’t remember: these are my mother’s stories and she is gone. But I have collected mother daughter pictures and small statues, just a few, all my life. And I wanted to have children. I liked surgery and obstetrics, but I chose family medicine, because I want to have children and to see them and be a mother too.

Health and joy and safety and comfort to all mothers and fathers and children everywhere.

 

bravery

There is more than one list of seven virtues. Courage, or bravery, goes back to Aristotle and Plato as one of the four cardinal virtues.

What is bravery to you? An extreme sport? A warrior?

My sister endured cancer treatment for 7 years, over 30 rounds of chemotherapy. She said, “People say I am brave, but they don’t understand. I don’t have a choice. It’s do the therapy or die.” It’s still brave, though, isn’t it.

The person who comes to my mind for bravery is a woman, a long time ago. She spoke Spanish and we had a translator. Her son had had rheumatic fever and they had gone to the pediatric cardiologist for the yearly visit. Her son had a damaged heart valve that was getting worse. He was somewhere between 9 and 12.

“The heart doctor says he needs surgery. He needs the valve replaced. But the heart doctor said he could die in surgery.” she said.

I read the notes and the heart ultrasound. “The heart valve is leaking more and more. If he doesn’t have the surgery it will damage his heart. He will be able to do less and less and then he will die. If he has the surgery, there is a small chance that he will die. But if he doesn’t, he will be able to grow and to run and to be active.”

She said, “I am so afraid.” But she returned to the pediatric cardiologist. And he got through the valve replacement surgery and did fine.

That is courage to me. The parents who take chances for their children: get into boats to escape war. Search for treatments. Fight for their home, their children, their loved ones. It is both men and women, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, and people who have no blood relation to a child that they reach out to help. Adoption, volunteering in schools, supporting a student, supporting an organization that helps children grow and thrive.

For the A to Z challenge….and last year.

 

 

 

 

Home

This is not a perfect photograph…. and yet, at the same time, it is for me. My daughter was home last week for spring break. She had a haircut and sent her hair to Locks of Love. The background is cluttered with the cupboard open and counter, but her concentration and quiet is a contrast to that. And anyhow, I am biased, right? We love even terrible photos of those we love.

In the warm

In the warm

I am here in the warm.
The thumper.
Sometimes it is fast.

I am in the warm.
The thumper.
The loud swish thing.
I kick it.
Loud place, I kick.
I am running out of room.
I push.

I push.
Thumper wild.
Thumper fast.
I have no room and now it is squeezing!
Stop squeezing! Pushing me! I want room! Room!

Ahhh! Bright!
Noisy! No warm! Cold!
Things touch me! Room! But no warm!

I am warm but not wet.
Bright. Wrapped.
Here is thumper.
I cough. No wet, something else. Air.
I want. Oh, thumper. Oh, mouth on warm, milk.

Here is room.
Thumper and others.
I know others. They are fast.
They are noisy.
That one is the one that held the swish thing. I kick.
Thumper and those are big.
These two are small, I am smaller.
Noisy! I like them.
I am getting used to light and dark.
More room. Milk. Air.

I know names. I have hands like others.
I can chew my hand.
My hands don’t work like theirs.
My noise doesn’t work either.
Not like brothers. Thumper is mom.
Other big is father.
Other bigs come and go.
I want my noise and hands to work!
I keep practicing.

I keep practicing
More!

I took the photograph of my daughter in 1998. This is scanned. I may try with another scanner….

 

March for people

My daughter and I marched yesterday.

She decided to come home from college for the weekend, planning to leave Saturday night. I decided not to go to the Seattle Womxn’s march, but do the Port Townsend one and asked her to join me.

We went out to breakfast and then to our small downtown. I no longer have television and look at news sites daily though a bit erratically, so neither of us had a pink hat. I wore my Mad As Hell Doctors t-shirt, my lab coat from working at the National Institutes of Health with the National Cancer Institute Patch, my Rotary name badge and pins gathered from going across the country trying to get medicare for all, single payer health care, from 2009 until now.

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Four bus loads went from our county to the Seattle march. We heard that the Bainbridge ferry was FULL. That is, they couldn’t not take any more walk on people. Another thirty people or more flew to the Washington DC march. And in Port Townsend, my guess is that we still had 200-300 people, women, men and children, people in wheelchairs, babies, gay, lesbian, straight, bi, trans, that marched from a small park downtown to the Haller Fountain. Galetea, naked statue at the fountain, sported a pussy hat.

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Our local organizer spoke and our House Representative, Derek Kilmer.

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Older women spoke about demonstrating over and over in their lives. A friend of mine called me up to help her sing Holly Near’s Singing for Our Lives, making up new verses on the fly. They invited people to speak.

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I spoke: “I am one of your local doctors. I want to be able to treat anyone who comes to my clinic. We are one nation: health care for all. No discrimination: medicare for all.”

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Home then, and tired. My daughter has decided she wants to learn guitar, to play while people sing. I taught her basic chords and basic strumming. We sang Jamaica Farewell. She picks it up immediately, after all of those years of viola. And she will take one of my father’s guitars back to college.

And this is amazing: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/21/world/womens-march-pictures.html?smid=fb-share

Blessings all around.

Physicians for a National Health Care Program: http://www.pnhp.org/

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