People at the Pharmacy

Thursday, February 26, 2009
I sat down about an hour ago, and am still basking in the quiet of this old house. For the past three nights, Juniper has cried just about all night, usually every thirty minutes. It wasn't until a friend suggested she might have an ear infection and Sam woke up twice last night screaming his ears hurt, that I put two and two together and hauled both kids to the doctor. Sure enough, they both have double ear infections. Juniper never touched her ears once, and because she's never had one, I didn't suspect it. Poor Sam was crying all morning and holding his hands over his ears. Nothing quite like ear pain. So now that the kids have ear drops and antibiotics, they are sleeping peacefully--something I didn't think I'd ever see again. Three days and nights can seem like an eternity. I actually thought I was going to end up in the psych ward. Sleep deprivation is not pretty.

It all came together for me today, though, in a way I least expected. While waiting an hour for prescriptions at Fred Meyer, I put my head in my hands and said "Holy F*ck" out loud, at which point I heard a voice from not far away say, "Take a deep breath, it's going to be okay." At first, I thought, "What right does this person have to tell me everything is going to be okay? Has she walked a day in my shoes?" Then I looked up and saw this understanding and kind face smiling back at me, and I recognized an older Mom I met at the community center two years ago when Sam was just a toddler. At 46, after living an incredible life of travel and doing everything she ever wanted to in her career, she met the man she wanted to have kids with and conceived twins using donor eggs. I looked back at the face of a woman, now 50, who knows what it's like to feel tired. She gave birth to twins at 46, for goodness sakes. She came up to me, saw Juniper's runny nose, and said, "Do you have any tissues with you?" When I said, "no," she went and found some, gave them to me for Juniper's nose, and told me she completely understood, and wanted to know if she could get my prescriptions for me so I could take care of the kids instead of holding my place in line. I thanked her, but continued to wait, at which point an elderly woman behind me in line said, "You have two of the most beautiful children." I looked at her face and could tell she must have been an attractive woman in her youth. She then walked up to the window, but it was actually my turn, so when the pharmacy technician told her so, she smiled and continued to stand at the window after I'd approached it. She stood there right along beside me, happily watching as my prescriptions were rung up and while I signed my receipts. She then followed me down to the consult window, telling me stories about her son Ulysses, named so because she was studying the Civil War while she was pregnant with him. She told me he changed his name when he was 30, after enduring years of teasing in school (kids called him "Useless"), and that he now goes by Charles, originally his middle name. Then she looked me in the eyes and told me that she will be 100 years old in 3 years time, and that looking back on her life, her happiest years were those when her children were young, and that I must write down every thing they do and say every day. I didn't tell her about my blog, but assured her I do keep track. What a sweet old woman. She listened to Sam jabber on and on, telling her about Goofy on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. At this point, I took a minute to sit on the bench next to the consult window to nurse Juniper, who was growing rather impatient with all the waiting. As I nursed her, a man with a hard face approached the window, hitting his daughter on the head with a paper in his hand, telling her he knew she was waiting in the wrong line (as if this is his 7-yr. old daughter's fault?). The girl just looked at me sadly and watched. Then I realized the man was watching me nurse, too. He said to his daughter, "Do you see her feeding her baby? That's how your Mama nurses her new baby." I looked up and realized he was trying to engage me in conversation, but I ignored him, turning to the girl instead, "Do you have a new brother or sister?" Her Dad answered for her, rambling on and on about how it was a brother, and it was his x-wife, and that when he met her she told him that she didn't have any kids until after they were married and she asked out of the blue one day when he was about to throw some hamburgers on the grill, "Do you care if I invite my son?" He said four kids showed up to the BBQ that day and they were all hers. He went on to tell me that with his daughter and the new one, she now has six kids by six different fathers. He then said, "So what would you have done if you were me?" I didn't know what to say, so mumbled quietly, "Divorce, I guess." It was a conversation I really wasn't interested in having at that very moment, after waiting for my prescriptions for nearly an hour. Fortunately, it was cut short when I saw my neighbor from across the street, who told me she was there to pick up prescriptions for her husband, who had been hit by a car last night on her birthday coming home from work. Stepped out in front of a car, because he didn't see it, and flipped up on the windshield, shattering it, but fortunately is only badly bruised with a few broken bones. No head injuries. Juniper was getting really fussy at this point, and Sam was holding his ears saying, "MOMMY, my MEDICINE! My ears hurt!" Before I knew it, we were home, medicine and ear drops had been administered, dinner was cooked, eaten, and cleaned up, the kids were soundly asleep for the night (yes!): the day was over, the house was silent. Another winter day of 2009 has now passed, but I don't think I'll soon forget how I spent the afternoon of February 26th at the Fred Meyer pharmacy . . . especially that little old 97 year old lady who told me the best, most happiest, years of her life were the years she spent raising her young kids. Somehow, coming from a 97 year old mother, I tend to think she's right about that.


Kelli said...

Sounds like she was just the person for you to run into today. I love when that happens!

Anonymous said...

Karli-you sure have a knack for putting us right in the moment with you. Wow, what a day! And you survived yet again. Thank you for sharing these moments. Even the hard moments become ones to treasure. --Stefanie

The Cutsforth Family said...

Oh Kari,
I HATE ear infections! Last summer I got a double ear infection and actually had both ear drums rupture. It is so painful and I hate it when we know what pain our little ones are going through. Poor babies! At least they have you as a Mommmy to comfort and love them :)

Claudia said...

I'm so sorry I don't live closer so I could of gotten the prepscriptions for you. It is so painful to have an ear ache!! Poor little guys!!
The little old lady sounded really sweet but the man~~~~well, when you are already stressed --- he is someone you could of done without...except at least you can look at that situation and think to yourself how much better off you are than being in his shoes!
Hope the kids are gettting better!!

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