When I was three and drank kerosene, she took care of me. When I got bit by bugs, caught the cold or the flu I hardly knew I was ill.
I’m talking about my maternal Grandmother.
She was solid, nothing rattled her and if you weren’t doing well it never entered your head for a minute that you would not be ok.
The problem started after my parents moved us to the mainland from Hawaii and my Grandparent’s house.
I was convinced every single time I took ill or got hurt that it would not end well for me.
I remember right after we moved to Seattle I caught a flu bug and my Dad’s parents came over to sit with me because it was the week before Christmas and they had shopping to do.
They set me up on the couch, brought me stuff to drink, gave me some comic books and sat with me in the living room and we watched tv.
After a bit I started to get nervous because they were hovering around and feeling my forehead.
My Grandfather’s face was twisted with worry and concern, which looking back on it now is touching.
I was almost five and went from being a tree climbing smart alec to a bedridden invalid who wouldn’t say a word and when I did I threw up.
And then the thought came out of nowhere.
I was going to die.
That’s what was going on, that’s why they were there watching over me like they were worried something was going to break into the house and snatch me away.
I threw up again into the bucket they had put next to the couch and then I threw myself off of the couch and ran screaming to my bedroom.
I slammed the door shut behind me and I slid myself under my bed and started to scream ” Save me! Save me! I’m dieing!”
So over the years when I got sick and someone would be there to try to take care of me, I’d look into their faces and think, ” Oh God. I am in SO much trouble here.”
So I stopped asking for help and kept to myself when I was ill.
I think my family was relieved considering my reaction to them when they tried to help me.
After all, when you look into someone’s face when you’re trying to help them and they look back at you like you’re some crazed killer from a horror film, the urge to stick that person on an iceberg and let them float off to their reward probably crawls into your head at some point.
So now I’m a lot older and over the years I’ve taken care of husband and kids when they were hurt or ill and I was pretty good at it.
They seemed to have a great amount of confidence in my abilities to look out for them and help them get well- which I fancy is something I learned from my Grandmother.
The thing of it is, I hardly ever get sick and when I do I take to my bed and sleep it off.
I pretty much take care of myself on those days.
I guess, after all these years I still don’t think anyone can take care of me when I’m sick or hurt the way my maternal Grandmother did.
Thinking back on it, maybe after we moved away from Hawaii it was my way of not letting anyone take her place.
Or maybe I was and still am that morbid little kid who thinks she’s going to die every time her nose runs.