Less than a day after doctors broke me open like a piñata and performed an emergency quadruple bypass, they had me up and moving around. They’d put my lunch near my bed but just out of reach: “if you want to eat, you’ve got to get up and get it!” They made me take walks around the cardiac floor, three times a day. That’s when I saw them: fifteen or twenty nurses, med techs, whatever, almost all women, bustling around, keeping watch over the cardiac patients--- the nice patients and the ones who yelled at them in Russian ---like a small army of moms.
Sure, a few men worked at the hospital, the occasional nurse in the middle of the night fumbling around, trying to find a vein. Or a male orderly (they called them “traffic”) who’d wheel me somewhere for a scan. My surgeon was a man. But the head of cardiology was female and so was most everyone responsible for my recovery. It felt like the “brush, brush here, brush, brush there” scene from the Wizard of Oz.
A lot of guys don’t want a woman caring for them for some reason. My father was one of them. He stopped going to physical rehab after his stroke because his male PT rotated out and got replaced with a woman.
Me? I gravitate toward women in my life , beyond my wife or daughter (having a female wife, for a straight guy, is kind of a given). I feel more comfortable around females in general. Bosses, neighbors. Nearly all my “personal maintenance” people it seems, medical and otherwise, are female. My dentist is a woman. A woman cuts my hair. I’ve got two female eye doctors (ophthalmologists in the same practice). A podiatrist. A female Endo shoved a needle in my neck to check the growth on my thyroid. My current primary care doctor is a man but I’ve had female GPs before, three in fact over the years.
Clearly, it’s a Mom Thing. Or the side effect of a Daddy Thing. A couple of years of therapy took care of most of the daddy issues, disconnected that hot button anyway. But the other side, the mommy side sticks with me.
I liked my mom. I have such nice feelings and memories of my mom and me from before kindergarten, maybe all the way up to fourth or fifth grade. They could all be fake, fabricated, a figment of time and wishful thinking. Scientists say our brain changes our memories each time we remember them. So who knows?
Some of my memories are surely little movies in my head, dramatizations of stories my mom used to tell me. How she watched me through the kitchen window playing in our giant sandbox on the patio outside our back door. (I've seen snapshots of that sandbox: 6’x6’ or 8’x8’ at least a foot deep, with places to sit on the corners. An uncle made it; it was so cool!) She’d be making dinner, she told me, glancing out every once in a while to check on me.
But some memories are mine; they’re real. How my mom would bring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to me while I lay on the living room floor, pillow scrunched under me, watching Bozo's Circus when I’d come home for lunch every afternoon from school.
The warm White Castle hamburgers she’d slip into my locker at middle school every so often as a treat. The scent of Chanel No.5 and a lipstick print on a Kleenex in the bathroom trashcan when she dressed up for a rare evening out. How she’d drape a blanket or towels over me, warm out of the dryer, making me instantly snuggly. (Nurses do that in hospitals these days, too, when you’re having a “procedure,” cover you in blankets fresh out of a warmer!)
Of course, my second biggest Mommy Figure is obviously my behavioral psychologist, my therapist, my shrink. My therapy worked out so much better than if she had been a guy. Now if only I can get her to wrap me in me warm blankets and feed me PB & Js…
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You should read my latest guest blog called Raising a Stink at Moms Who Drink and Swear... Author Nicole Knepper was kind enough to let me share her space...
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