I found the laminated card that my mom kept in her purse. It listed of all my surgeries. She grew tired of remembering and writing them down for insurance purposes, so she typed up a card and handed it to them. There were over twenty. Joint by joint.
She was the first to sign each plaster cast. I don’t know which number surgery we were on, (I suppose I could check the list)…but it was a full length cast on my left leg — she wrote in big blue sharpie — “Nurse Linda.” “Who’s that?” I asked, still in a bit of an anesthetized fog. “Me,” she said proudly, “If I’m going to be playing nurse all the time, I should be able to pick my own name.” I smiled. She struck a pose at the side of my hospital bed. We laughed until I threw up in the plastic bean beside me. She wiped my face with a warm washcloth. “Thank you, Linda.”
She had to use vacation days from work to be with me. She brushed it off, while I apologized. “Nurse Linda doesn’t care. It’s part of her job.” She made everything easier. With just those two words — Nurse LInda — she made even my plaster covered existence lighter. Trips to the hospital became vacation. Vacation from the norm. Vacation from reality. She did, in fact, have the power to heal me.
I had just started this recent painting. I emailed the beginnings to a friend of mine. “Is it a nurse?” she asked. I hadn’t thought about it yet, but of course it was — she was. This beautiful Italian woman appearing on my canvas was healing me. Taking me to a different time, a different place. A vacation for my heart and mind.
My mother’s name would change from time to time as needed. From Linda, she went to Goober, to Sparkle, Little Sister, Gilbert, (and now, she is “The Italian.”) We changed and grew. Adapted. Healed. And most of all, we had FUN — the greatest healer of all, I suppose. And even though none of this may continue, make no mistake about it – it is permanent! A love written in Sharpie. A love laminated on my heart.