Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cutting my Shin: a Memory Comes Flooding Back

It was in the early 1980s - I was 10 or 11 years old. Our new house was under construction. Mom, Dad, my sister, and my friend, Joy D., went to check on the progress.

Joy and I were playing on the front porch. There was a piece of aluminum sheet metal nearby. I pretended to stumble over it -- except that I cut it too close, and really stumbled over it.

I looked down at my left shin. There was a 1.5 inch slice in my shin, and the taut skin had pulled open into a surprise-mouth shape. Blood streamed down my leg.

The next few minutes were a blur. I remember Mom rushing me to the doctor's office. She worked for Dr. Brooks and must have put in a quick call. I remember sitting in the front seat of the car, applying pressure to the wound. There was a towel.

Then I remember being in the doctor's office, crying and wailing, lying on my back on a cushioned patient table. Dr. Brooks began to quickly sew up the wound. Ms. Donna, a lovely, young nurse, came over to hold me, to keep me from squirming.
I was really squirming and crying.

Ms. Donna leaned over my upper body, almost in a hug. Her long, layered dark hair was soft and perfume-scented. The weight of her, her gentle words, her soft hair...they soothed me. The memory is as vivid as if it happened yesterday.

We should remember that there are key moments in a life, moments that have a lasting impact and are not forgotten. Ms. Donna's simple gesture of kindness and compassion meant the world to a terrified child in that moment.

I'll never forget it, for as long as I live.

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