Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Between the Sheets

When I was sick my grandmother would take care of me. She wasn't coddling exactly, few true nurses are, but she knew precisely what I needed and set about giving it to me in no uncertain terms. It was one of the few times I can remember ever truly being taken care of.

First she would run a cool bath for me in her tub. Using her tub was a treat. Usually I had to use the plain white one across the hall from my room in the bathroom which wa boring blue and white and had no windows, but her bathroom was beautiful, with tiny pink and black tiles on the floor and a view of the oak tree in our wild back yard.

While I soaked, Grandmama would strip my bed, replacing the limp sweaty cotton sheets with the crisp, thick white percale sheets, stiff and clean as her nurses uniform. The comforter stuffed with spun silk would disappear and in its place would be a thin cotton blanket with a thick tape of satin ribbon binding one end, so faded and threadbare that I just knew it had been used to cover her own sick children, all those years ago.

When I was out of the bath she would sit me on the closed lid of the commode and rub my arms and legs with a pale blue bath oil until my pale limbs shone glossy and pink. Once I was sufficiently scrubbed and buffed, she'd send me off with a thermometer under my tongue to wait at the kitchen table until she called "time" and pulled the thin glass pipe from my mouth.

Sometimes she would get me to eat, usually she wouldn't. When anyone fell ill they became involuntary participants in the BRAT diet consisting only of bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Since I only cared for two of the four components --applesauce and toast-- I would often feign fatigue and beg to be let to take a nap.

There was nothing like sliding into those clean white sheets stretched so tightly across my bed. Do you remember the first time Mr Toad sees a motorcar? "Oh joy" he says "oh bliss" he was transported.

So was I.

I would shimmy out of my clothing, dropping them on a pile on the shiny teak floors and carefully insinuate myself between the sheets, wanting to savor the pristine sensation of those taut sheets stretched perfectly across my bed. I'd lie there eyes closed just breathing, trying to memorize the smell --the combination clorox and detergent and the soap grandmama used and stored in the linen closet. Nothing has ever smelled cleaner or more reassuring than those sheets, and I doubt anything ever will again.


Blogger Diane said...

there are a lot of nurses in my congregation and one of them told me about BRAT. Also you're right -- they aren't coddling, but they do know exactly what you need.
thanks for sharing.
clean sheet, yes.

7:26 AM  
Blogger DogBlogger said...

I can almost smell 'em, too. Thanks for that.

11:49 AM  

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