Strong memories and what triggers them
Something happen today that took me back to one of the most vivid memories I have of my stay in the hospital after awakening from that long coma nearly 13 years ago. That reminder was when I was giving Austin a bath. He has got into the habit of eating a popsicle when he bathes. It makes the excitement of bath time even more fun. However, Austin doesn’t like to eat alone and insists that I have a popsicle too.
Today, right after Austin came home from school, he said, “Austin take bath.” He’s so cute when he says this, because he whispers it in a tone that is so excited, as if he’s keeping a secret from the rest of the world. Of course, I gave him a bath, he handed me my popsicle. His job before getting in the bath is to grab our popsicles and mine is to get the water warmed up. He gave me mine and said, “Daddy have orange.” Immediately, my mind raced back to that day so long ago, to a time Austin knows nothing about. I must say that those orange treats will always hold a special place in my heart. BTW, it was pretty darn good, sharing that one with Austin today, too!
For me, the significance of a popsicle goes back to Christmas Eve, 1993. I had been out of the coma for about two weeks, but was still connected to the ventilator and was also still not able to eat anything aside from ice chips. I had a feeding tube down one nostril and another tube going down the other to take out anything produced when processing the liquid nutrition. I was getting tired of ice chips and talked to my doctor about eating something. He said he could let me have a popsicle, but the other tube would suck it right out of my stomach. I told him I didn’t care, that I just wanted to taste something.
For Christmas that year, one of the best gifts I received was an orange popsicle. I still recall how good that frozen pop tasted. I had been chomping ice chips for way too long and I didn’t care if it didn’t stay on my stomach. I declared that afternoon that popsicles were one of the best foods ever made. In context, they sure were.
The other best Christmas gift I received that year was a phone call to my sister. This was no small feat and I’m not sure if it had ever been done before at University Medical Center. My brother had finagled to get a phone line dropped through the ceiling and into my ICU cubicle. A phone was brought in and tested to make sure it would work. Then, the connection was made and I got to talk to Diana. The rest of my family was there with me, but she had to leave while I was still comatose and return to work at her Air Force post. So, the loop was made and Christmas was saved.
All these memories brought about by a single orange popsicle this afternoon and Austin still doesn’t know what he triggered. That is the beauty of innocence.