Friday, October 7, 2011

The Elders

I was born in Alaska, and a native grandmother held me in church.  No one else could keep me quiet and content. She chewed the skins and made her last pair of mukluks for me.  I don't even know her name.  But I do know that she loved me.  And I know that we had a past life, in which I was her mother.  She checks in with me occasionally, and often smokes pipe with me.

 When I was two, my parents and I moved to Chicago, where I met Anna Esau.  I would crawl out of bed and totter downstairs to see Anna.  What I loved was that she adored me.  She didn't let me get away with anything, and at the same time she clearly loved me unconditionally.  I remember lots of laughter and cookies. 

One vivid memory is about my hair: it has always been very curly, and at the time, it was strawberry blond curls down to my lower back. People had so often told me my hair was pretty that I repeated it to others.  My mother was appalled and told me I shouldn't say such a thing.  But Anna Esau laughed and told Mom that I was just telling the truth.  I suspect the passersby were amused by it. 

When I was three, I had my tonsils out. I remember it clearly.  First, Mom and I went to the doctor, who took a blood sample.  Then we went to the hospital, and Anna was there.  She was an OR nurse.  I had to have a shot for pre-op. Now, when I was a year old, in Alaska, I had a serious infection and had to have shots.  I didn't like having the shots and wasn't going to let anyone do that to me again!  But . . . Anna was stronger than I, in will power even more than in physical strength.  She gave me the shot.  

She also took me into the OR and was there the whole time.  She helped me through the anesthesia process.  When I woke up I was in my hospital room with Anna right in my line of sight.

Anna had a friend, Freida, and Freida's father living in the apartment with her.  The elderly gentleman was an alcoholic.  Anna's response to that was to give him measured amounts of alcohol to drink - not enough to make him drunk but enough to keep him from painful withdrawal.  This man liked me, and he was also a carpenter.  He made me a toy chest.  It was quite beautiful.

Even when we  moved to a new apartment, Anna Esau was a part of my life.  She took Mom and me to an Estate Sale.  I spotted a beautiful little antique table, and I wanted it.  Anna had seen it too and had intended to buy it and take it home.  Instead, she bought it for me.  It was a long time before I recognized its value.  I was about forty years old when a friend who had worked at Sotheby's told me how valuable it was in money, though I already knew its value in love.

The last contact I had with Anna was a phone call.  It was surreal, partly because I had been asleep.  I had not heard from her in quite a while.  She asked about my parents, whether they were okay.  I told her they were.  Later, I found out they really weren't.  She knew.  My Dad told me that part of her mission was to
keep families healthy - in many ways.  My parents were together for a while after that phone call, but finally they did divorce.  Both remarried.

I will never forget Miss Anna Esau: nurse extraordinaire; truth teller; lover of life; comforter of the little girl I once was.   

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