Here I am, upside down again. No one appears to be taking much notice of me. Maybe, had I been upright more often, they’d have sought medical attention.
Don’t you just love old photographs?
I wasn’t born breech, but somehow life seemed more interesting from the alternative viewpoint.
Mother was forty when she gave birth to me. She was hospitalised for three weeks following. Apparently she’d contracted a ‘germ.’ However, the germ was fighting fit and raring to go.
I found walking quite mundane unless it was on my hands. I preferred to travel by way of cartwheels, backflips and forward rolls. I watched TV standing on my head. Doesn’t everyone?
Fast forward to high school and I represented the school in gymnastics. Well it was nailed on wasn’t it? I couldn’t fathom how kids could be so clumsy and uncoordinated. Couldn’t even vault a box?
I finished school in the early 60’s when the world was a different place. The Careers Officer asked, ‘What would you like to do?’ I told him,
‘I do not want to be a comptometer operator, a shorthand typist or a telephonist.’
‘But that’s what you’re suited to,’ says the man in the suit, who’d never met me before. The headmaster nodded his agreement. I heard my limp voice say,
‘I’d like to work with animals.’ Mother shot me a loaded glance. Filing cabinets, typewriters, nine to five, beckoned with a portending finger.
‘I’m not clever,’ I truthfully protested. I’d never sussed Geometry with its silly pi r squared, circumference doofers; or history, dry with dates and dead monarchs. Geography - all latitude and longitude. ‘I’m top in French language though,’ I squeaked.
‘So you want to be a kennel maid!’ Mother had a way of making me feel smaller than the germ she incubated. In spite of me being tone deaf, she’d never forgiven me for spurning piano tuition in favour of Judo lessons.
Of course, I ended up behind a desk, a ‘pricer’ totalling up prescription drugs; such a step up for mother, whilst I steadily sank in a swamp of despondency.
The change came about when my super fit Dad was admitted to hospital for investigations. Mother and I arrived at visiting time to find the ward in pandemonium. Sister ushered us into the office. ‘Mr Ives had a massive heart attack and died. We got him back, but he’s really, very poorly. Be prepared for the worst.’
I shot up a desperate plea to the God I was barely on nodding terms with.
It didn’t happen. After we’d settled back into daily life, I could not rid myself of the memory. With life and death hanging in the balance, the medical team chose to pull out all the stops. They gave Dad back to us. He enjoyed fourteen more years of healthy life. To me, that was job satisfaction personified.
Or did God hear my prayer? I didn’t know, but I knew what I intended to do, and just let Mother refer to this one as a dead ender!
Three years later I emerged a fully-fledged Registered Nurse and later added Psychiatric Nursing to my CV. It was a career choice I never regretted.
It’s amazing how humbling being around sickness and disability can be. I’d viewed life only from the perspective of an active, healthy person. Now I saw tragedy, grief, pain and loss; yet admirable strength and resilience too.
How would I cope in similar circumstances?
I loved to talk with patients. Sometimes, though the illness was terminal, peace and acceptance of the inevitable was evident.
Sam was a perfect example. As he became weaker his smile widened. One morning he called me over. ‘I hear you’re on leave next week.’ I nodded. ‘Will we meet again?’ He offered his hand.
‘I’m back the week after,’ I laughed, knowing full well he wouldn’t be here.
‘I hope we meet in God’s beautiful garden,’ he said. ‘And He wants that too.’ He pushed a small, red, Gideon’s Bible into my hand.
I didn’t disappoint him. I read daily, as promised, but Sam never knew just how much The True Source of his strength and faith had spoken to me, through his own unwavering trust and focus upon God’s promise of eternity, in His presence.
At age fifty eight, I performed cartwheels to entertain my son. I spent the following week on bed rest! My next performance will be in God’s garden.
There will be no dead end for me!
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