The little girl hurt. She thought she could hear her daddy's voice. She wanted to tell him about her pain, but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't talk and tell him that her throat hurt. She opened her eyes, and saw the sheets of her bed and thought it strange that a hospital would have red sheets.
Her mother in the waiting room didn't have the luxury of her daughter's confusion. When she saw the nurse running through the hall, she knew instantly what the red soaked nurse's uniform meant. Something had gone wrong. She knew, as only a mother could, that the red blood splashed over the front of the nurse's clothing was that of her child.
It was a simple procedure, a tonsillectomy. Children had them all the time. The little girl, 7 years old, had suffered repeated bouts of bronchitis, and the family physician had said the young girl's tonsils were bad and needed to be removed. It would be an adventure, the mother had told her daughter, and the 7-year-old listened to her mother's words and believed them.
Instead, when the physician finally came and found the woman, his own eyes laced with concern, he told her they were trying to stop the child's bleeding and doing everything they could. He shook his head, patted her hand and walked back to be with his patient.
The mother stood there by herself. Her husband, lulled by the routine nature of the surgery, had gone to work that day. The mother dazed and in disbelief, waited until they came to take her to her daughter's bedside in recovery.
The little girl looked small and fragile. The mother thought her heart would break. The little girl moved in and out of consciousness, only vaguely aware of her surroundings those first two days in recovery
The mother left that first night exhausted, and came back early the next day. She stayed at her daughter's bedside, leaving only long enough to shower, change and occasionally sleep. The child, once reunited with her mother, felt the comfortable safety that she always felt in her mother's presence, never once understanding how close she had come to death.
The child never saw, never felt the fear behind her mother's smile, she heard only her mother's comforting voice, talking of things they would do when the girl was better. The mother's words were strong, and the picture painted in the little girl's head so clear, that not for even the tiniest of moments did the little girl think it would be otherwise.
Slowly the little girl recovered. The surgery, the hospital were just a bad memory for the girl, nothing more.
As the daughter grew, again and again, as life presented each new difficulty, she would come to her mother, listening intently as her mother found ways to paint a picture of a positive outcome, no matter how serious the problem.
When the girl grew into womanhood and the problems became larger, the mother's words continued to create positive pictures. Even when the young woman didn't believe, her mother's words were so powerful, so filled with detail that the young woman moved forward on faith alone at the sound of her mother's words.
It happened when the young woman lost her own baby daughter. The mother drew the picture of another baby, this one healthy framed in the young woman's arms and it was so.
It happened when the young woman, in the midst of a broken heart and marriage, listened as the mother painted the picture of another love, a perfect partner for the young woman, and this too became so. And so it went, the mother teaching the daughter how to paint the pictures in her mind.
It would come as no surprise that the mother, who for years had been painting pictures in the mind, now put those pictures on canvas, sharing her talent with friends, family — charming even strangers with her work.
And the daughter, who had not inherited her mother's artistic talents, found her own way to create pictures, creating them with words.
Though many women have had an impact on my life, none more so than my own mother. It has been her strong words that have propelled me through the rough times (tonsillectomies and all) and helped me soar through the good.
This tribute is written for you, Momma — for your wit, wisdom and warmth and most of all, for teaching me to paint pictures. I love you.
Until Next Time
This post is in honor of National Women's History Month and the Carnival of Genealogy whose topic is to “Write a tribute to a woman on your family tree, a friend, a neighbor or historical female figure who has done something to impact your life.”
Note this post first published online, March 13, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online http://www.thenews-messenger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?Category=BLOGS02
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