As the new year waltzes in, I began thinking of stories that I had written long ago, long before I ever knew what bipolar even meant. In my time, manic depressive was a whispering in the shadows. I do not know what the condition was called before that, say in Virginia Woolf’s time. But there was this one story I keep thinking about because of it’s irony, especially now. It is about a nurse. I don’t even remember what I titled it. My professor asked me to publish it. It would have been my first published piece of work. I should have been elated, well, I was as high as a person could get…without medication, self or otherwise, simply for the compliment.
It was personal. It was a silly string of clichés that made somewhat of a story with a bazaar ending. That is how I presented it anyway, for a grade. But I didn’t want others to see it. I was okay with my professor reading it, but no one read my stuff. No one. It had secrets. Other people would discover things about about myself, my family. My family would find out about me! Secrets like my those in charge actually had to separate my sister and I because she wouldn’t talk. Why she wouldn’t talk is because I did ALL her talking for her. Patricia was chronically sick. She had scarlet fever twice as an infant, and numerous other ailments causing her to be quite fragile. You see, my younger sister wanted to be a nurse. Pat received a nurse’s play uniform with a nurse’s hat, cape and accompanied with the medical bag with candy medicine, play thermometers, giant rubber needles to give us shots, and a working stethoscope to listen to our heartbeats. It was our best year ever. I got the magical new shiny red bicycle. FREEDOM!
One great thing in my life that made its mark was that bicycle. It turns out that Dad and my brother Alan spent hours and hours in the garage revamping my older sister Paula’s old blue one. All of the girls of the family had to stay away from the garage, even Momma. Paula told me about this later, much later. As she said, “You are the mother of a eight year old for Christ sake.” My shock and surprise came as I marveled our family could keep that fact from me over twenty years.
I thought I knew everything there was to know about our family. I was the, little eyes with big ears standing still in the back of the room while the big people talked. And talk they did. Time unraveled I did not have a clue as to the workings of our family. Once while Mom was shopping for some work shoes at Sears, a nosy lady came up to me asking question about my mommy and daddy. My mother wasn’t to far away and over heard the conversation. Back then we were not as afraid of evil doers, we did not even have seat belts in the cars.