Today I drove in Southern California traffic today to take my sister to a doctor's appointment.
As I drove, it occurred to me that I have spent a considerable amount of time in the past nursing my family. I've done everything from cleaning scrapes and cuts to cleaning up after flu victims to helping with broken bones and post surgery care.
When I was fourteen my mom had major back surgery. She had a 53 degree curve in her spine caused by years of scoliosis. She not only received titanium rods and screws but one of her ribs was sacrificed as the base for bone grafts in her lumbar vertebrae. She received several quarts of blood during surgery and had a heart arrhythmia on the table. After a time in the hospital, we got to take mom home to recover.
Days were long and very difficult. It took half the morning just to get up for the day and then she wanted to go back to sleep.
Mom needed help with most things those first few weeks and I was the one to help her. I assisted her when she needed to stand up or sit down, cleaned her scars to help them heal correctly, and kept her company.
I also helped run the household.
We had dinners provided for a while and the family budget was managed by my older sister. I helped with the grocery shopping and food prep at home for the other meals. We were given so much pizza and lasagna that summer.
A day in my life that summer looked something like this:
Wake up at 7am. Lay out Dad's clothes and breakfast. Make sure everyone else got breakfast if they wanted some. Start on the laundry. Hang the laundry on the line because the dryer was broken. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Help mom get up and ready for the day. Help mom sit in her chair. Send the little kids outside to play so that mom could have some quiet and so I could keep the house somewhat clean. Make lunch. Spend the afternoon doing laundry, cleaning, taking care of someone, reading or playing Krondor on the computer. Go to bed at 10pm and start all over in the morning.
That was the first year we had Lagoon season passports and we used them frequently. One time Lorri and I loaded up the kids and the laundry in the van, dropped the kiddos off at Lagoon and spent several hours at a laundry mat. It was wonderful! Several loads at once, plus the dryers worked! Well, better than our broken dryer.
I loved it.
I felt like I had a purpose all day, every day. Sometimes I didn't love it as much as other times, but overall I think it was one of my very most productive summers.
Medicine; taking care of people, is in my blood. It's a divine calling that I feel drawn to. I cannot deny it and whatever obstacles present themselves I try my very hardest to overcome. The best I can do is to try.
This summer I met a man who looked me in the eye and told me that one of my gifts is that of nurturing. I laughed it off, saying that anyone who knew me would be able to see that. I was reminded that he had only known me for 20 minutes. It was as though the breath had been drawn out of my lungs. My brain paused as I considered this observation. It is true. No, it is True, with a capital T. Nurturing is my love language. If I boss or prod or ask a million questions and try to help fix things for you or simply ask if you have been eating enough leafy greens -- it means that I love you in some way. I'm not trying to be annoying, that's just how it sounds at first.
I once told a friend that I can't date boys younger than me because I automatically go into mothering mode and try to boss them around -- even if I'm only a few weeks older. I now realize how absurd that comment was: I will "mother" everyone I meet. It is very easy for me to love.