Ah, Easter. A time for family, faith and, if you look online, a time for rabid parents beating up little children for PEZ-filled eggs. For yours truly, it was a day for a family meal and looking at pictures of my nieces wearing adorable bunny ear headbands on Facebook.
The pictures sparked a trip down memory lane of attending church with my grandparents before going out to eat in a new Easter dress Granny insisted I get each year — a dress I only wore the one time. Memories of Granny and Easter time turned my attention to the time-worn and battered stuffed rabbit that takes up residency in my home office.
His name is Happy. He stands about two-and-a-half feet tall, I’d guess. At one point I could sit in his lap and read, alas, those days are long gone. He’s missing an ear — that disappeared somewhere when I was about seven years old. But he’s moved with me across the country and is still hanging in there, some 33 years after I originally received him.
When I was two, I got very ill. I can’t say I personally remember this, but I’ve been told stories and I’ve seen photographic evidence that would support this. My mom couldn’t convince my stubborn father that my illness warranted a trip to the emergency room but, luckily for me, my Papa was willing to drive the two of us to my pediatrician’s office. Dr. Walter Yates examined me quickly and informed my mother that I in fact had meningitis and was on death’s door. He estimated I had about 30 minutes left to live without serious medical intervention, according to my Mom.
I was told he grabbed me and drove me himself to the hospital at top speed while my Mom and Papa followed. I then had a picc line inserted into my right arm to pump penicillin into me. Unfortunately, the medical staff would learn quickly after this began I was (am) allergic to penicillin, and my heart stopped. Obviously, they brought me back to the land of the living. I still have a scar across the inside of my right arm near my elbow to document this event.
According to what I recall Granny telling me, I went into the hospital on Good Friday and was released on Easter. But my Mom told me that wasn’t how it happened. I spent a good deal of time in the hospital and a good portion of that time in an oxygen tent, from what I’ve seen in photos. I had four pacifiers — yes, four — two in my mouth and one in each hand at all times. Without them, I would cry.
Part of the story Granny shared was correct: I was in the hospital at Easter time and I was released around the holiday. That’s how Happy came into my life. He was a get well/Easter gift from Granny and Papa. Now, while I have been told Granny’s recollection of the duration of my hospital stay was off, I like to believe the second half of her account was accurate and I am going to share it with you.
On the day I was to be released, Granny says the doctor came in to check on me and see how I was doing. Being the trooper I am, of course, I had made a full recovery and was finally taking those pacifiers out of my mouth to talk.
The doctor supposedly asked me how I was. And I responded very matter-of-factly.
“I’m hung-ee,” I said.
The doctor nods and asks what I would like to eat. (This was a mistake on his part.)
“I want fwied chicken and mash puh-tay-tuhs and gwavy and gween beans and macawonee and tuh-may-tuhs and dumpwins,” I replied.
“Excuse me,” asked the dumbfounded doctor.
““I want fwied chicken and mash puh-tay-tuhs and gwavy and gween beans and macawonee and tuh-may-tuhs and dumpwins,” I replied again since obviously he hadn’t written my order down.
The doctor turns to my parents and grandparents after hearing this with a look that clearly read “explain.” My Granny informed him that had been the menu the last time we’d had a family dinner at her house.
The doctor nodded, then turned to one of the nurses and said, “Well, you heard the kid. Get her something to eat.”