The Land of Counterpane

Mom was there to comfort me numerous times during illness or injury. When I got a bloody nose rolling in the garbage can, she was there to help wipe up the blood. Before my surgery she sat there talking to me as if everything was normal and we did this once a week. When I cut my arm she used her “for guests only” white towels with the pink tulips to wrap my bleeding gash. When I had the bike wreck by the little park she put ice on my eye and put salve on my road rash.

I have a strong memory of being sick at 14 E. Portland in Kellogg. I was about five years old. Mom stayed home from teaching that day. For part of that year Dad was home babysitting me because Bunker Hill was on strike. I still remember feeling special having Mom all to myself for the day. I got to lie in Mom and Dad’s “big bed”. Mom arranged pillows behind my head to help me sit up. She had to give me a yellow liquid medicine that tasted awful, but was there with a glass of water. I spit some of the medicine back in the glass with the water. I think I was concerned about doing something wrong. Mom comforted me and went on as if nothing happened. I also have a memory of Mom reading A Child’s Garden of Verses . “The Land of Counterpane” and Stevenson’s words are still etched in my memory.

When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay,
To keep me happy all the day.

Actually that day the toys were oranges, scotch tape and a box of Kleenex. I must have become restless as the afternoon wore on. Mom allowed me to wrap the oranges like little gifts with Kleenex and scotch tape. I thought it was a marvelous way to spend an afternoon in bed. I think I even gave Dad a gift of wrapped oranges when he got home from work.

Looking back on my sick day I remember the softness of the pillows and bedspread in that big bed. I also remember the warm light from a lamp glowing on my tissue paper gifts. The most important part of that day was the gift of time spent with my mom. Touching my forehead with her cool hand helped erase my fears. Listening to her voice recite the words of “The Swing” and “The Land of Counterpane” as she sat by the bed made me feel better. Holding the little blue book of poems and recited poems she seemed to help take me to another time, a sunnier day.

That was an early experience with comfort. Mom provided a safe haven in that Land of Counterpane. I didn’t understand it as a young child. My life continued to be peppered with numerous illnesses, heartbreaks, and injuries. In different ways Mom has always provided that comfort and safe haven for me. I understand its significance now.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for a lovely post to remind me of the comforting Mom that took care of me too....makes me want to break out a book and prop up on a couple of pillows...


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