Mother Nature played a dirty rotten trick on me over the Christmas holidays. I got sick. I went to bed, turned my electric blanket to “sauté” and took a good slug of NyQuil. I hacked and coughed, chilled and sweated, tossed and slept. Three days later I decided I’d beaten the Grim Reaper one more time, and rejoined life.
I missed some fun. There was leftover pizza in the refrigerator, along with various snacks. Board games were stacked on the floor by the table. That explained why everyone was gathered around the kitchen table when I got up and wandered around in my nightgown checking the water pressure of the faucets.
It made sense to me. When I got a drink of water in the bathroom, the water seemed to run very slowly. So I checked the kitchen faucet. It was fine. My family gaped at me, mouths hanging open, dice and game pieces frozen in hands. When I rejoined the living I was thankful that there weren’t any strangers over for game night. (Incidentally, nothing was wrong with the water pressure. Maybe NyQuil or fever affected my brain.)
When you’re way past spring chicken and well into old hen age and you get very sick, you start to think about mortality. It’s not pleasant. There’s all that memorabilia that once seemed so important, now tucked away in drawers and files. Maybe I’d better get up and sort it right now. And my Brambly Hedge and Carnival glass collection. When I feel a little better I should probably get it all cataloged and sold. I don’t think anybody else in the family knows how to hold an eBay auction, and they might not make as much money as it’s worth.
How about that income tax? I understand all my expenses and income (hah!) as a writer, but are the records clear enough for someone else to take over and complete? Would my family be muttering bad things about me before my ashes were even cold? Just as soon as the headache and joint pain goes away, I’m on it!
And those books in my computer. I’ve got to go through them again, and junk the junk. If the Grim Reaper gives me long enough, I might even spiff a couple of them up and give selling them another try.
The thought of books brings on a bigger headache. What about Jasper’s scrapbook? Since the latecomer grandson arrived four years ago, I’ve been intending to gather all the columns I’ve written about him, spice them up with photographs, and put them in a nice scrapbook. Which means I’ve got to go through many computer disks of photos, and the big box of developed snapshots, to find the illustrations.
And the mouse Christmas story! Years ago I wrote a children’s Christmas story about the big McMouse family, who lived under the kitchen in an old farmhouse. It consisted of 24 chapters, 23 with cliff-hanger endings, and a happily-ever-after chapter to be read on Christmas Eve. Ever since grandson Jasper, and then great-grandson Roman, came along, I’ve intended to put it in book form for the two little boys. All I have to do is learn how to draw cuddly mice in old-fashioned clothing, do an illustration for each chapter, design a cover, put it all together and find out how much it would cost to print two copies. Uh-oh, the headache just got worse.
Then I thought of the two little boys, and the headache shifted south and became a heartache. They wouldn’t even remember me! Oh, Jasper might have a few mental pictures. When he’s a big kid or a grownup, will he look back and see us making meatballs and Jell-O Jiggles, or creating and acting out stories starring his favorite book characters? Will he remember selling me groceries from his toy store, or making pretend sandwiches and real ice-water and serving them to me when I had a broken arm last summer? Probably not.
What about Roman? He won’t remember sweetly murmuring “GiGi! GiGi!” when seeing me from a distance. Or hauling the “story piddows” from the living room couch to pile on my bed to read the picture books we brought home from library story time. Or pulling on my hand and pleading, “Get down, GiGi, get down,” to play cars on the living room floor.
He’s definitely too young to remember me.
Well, all those thoughts brought a miraculous healing. I got up and made a “no procrastination” New Year’s resolution. I made a computer spreadsheet about my puny writing career, so anyone doing taxes would have no problem.
Then I vowed to exercise, eat healthy and go to the doctor next time I get sick, instead of self-medicating with NyQuil.
After all, I want a few more years of hearing the delight in Jasper’s voice when he calls “Grandma!” and runs to hug me upon arrival. I want Roman to at least have a few happy memories of his GiGi.
Stay away, Grim Reaper!
• Donna Scofield is a freelance writer whose articles, columns and short fiction stories have appeared in numerous national and regional magazines. The longtime Yakima resident is retired after working as a secretary and office manager in Yakima School District elementary schools. She has raised two sons and two daughters. Her email is RDDLScofield@aol.com