Friday, April 9, 2010


When my three daughters were here for the birthday parties, Martha, very generously gave me a long hour of tutoring. All this time since, A paper that she helped me has been sitting by my computer, looking very threatening. There are twelve Post-it-notes decorating it.

At first her question to me was What made made you want to paint?

On the first little yellow slip it talks about how little money we had when the children were young. Sam worked hard and he worked daily. He was a self starter which was lucky, for he had no boss checking up on him. He could have worked one day a week and stayed home with me for the other six. I am afraid I would not have urged him to drive off early in the morning for I would have loved having him home.

There was one day when he should have stayed home. But it was a Friday and he had to go to the Furniture Mart i San Francisco. I was sick with a high temperature and possibly a strep throat. He got Gilbert fed and diapers changed and left him to play in his room. By pulling my side of the bed over to the door of Gilbert's room, he became stuck in his room. Anna was asleep in another bedroom and I had fed her and changed her. Then he put a glass of water on my bed side table and in the last minute added a bottle of aspirin. And then he left to return at seven or seven thirty that evening.

I fell asleep. And when I woke an hour or two later, I was shocked to see a white powder all over the floor in what as Gilbert's domain. I soon found out that he had taken the aspirin into his room and tried to eat what he thought was candy. I was desperate. What if he had eaten too much. What to do.

I called our pediatrician whose office was only five or ten minutes away. She said 'I will be right up to check on him.' When she arrived she went immediately to Gilbert. I took her into our bedroom and showed her how Sam had arranged for Gilbert to be safe. She told me to get back in bed and went in to check on Gilbert. She looked on the amount of white powder on the floor and offered to give him a white pill and he stuck out his tongue and shook his head. She came back to tell me the good news, that she felt he had not eaten any and might have stomped on them on purpose. And now how is Anna, she said. She is still asleep. I will show you. So we went into the third bedroom where Anna slept peacefully. Anna was less than a month old and as cute as a button with her bright red hair.

You should not have been left alone, as sick as you are. Do you have anyone to call to come to help you? I said yes I would do that. She left, and as far as I remember never sent a bill for the house call. And that was the last house call by a doctor.

All the little yellow post it notes did not help me stay organized. I was supposed to begin the way I did and then go on to tell you why I began taking art lessons. Was it to quiet an inner need to express myself? No. It happened when Jane was born two years after the story of the aspirins. I suddenly realized that we were going to have four children in college at the same time. And somewhere I had learned how much that cost. I had to do something to help. And next time I will tell you what exciting adventures happened because I was bound and determined to get rich and famous.


Katherine said...

Don't worry about "plot". Your stories are wonderful just the way you write them.

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

I know that you are trying to learn "how to write". And perhaps that advice is good for people who have nothing to say. But I love the way that your stories unfold naturally. There is something about your personality that comes shining through your words. You are a very interesting person in print and I bet your even more interesting in person.

Don't be too intimidated by writing guidelines. You are wonderful just as you are.