Day by day (FGK-5)

And so we are back to the time mom spent in the hospital. The timing here has been interesting because I’m listening to this tape while I’ve found all of the letters that were sent to mom while she was in the hospital.

Every letter and card has been kept in boxes and I’m pretty sure not looked at since mom left the hospital. But I remember her saying what a treasure they were to her while she was there as they were a steady contact to the outside world.

I actually found the hospital rules stapled together in a blue covered booklet titled Alberta Red Cross Crippled Children’s Hospital: Booklet for Parents

From the first page: The children who are patients at the hospital are those with orthopaedic disabilities whose parents cannot afford the prolonged hospitalization and medical care that serious orthopaedic disabilities demand; as well as those children with orthopaedic disabilities who cannot be adequately treated in any other hospital.

Grandma talks about when mom was transferred to the children’s hospital:

After a long long time, I can’t remember how long. She couldn’t move her arms or anything. they put her in the children’s hospital. I was allowed to see her for a half an hour twice a week.

Can you imagine? A half hour twice a week. The pamphlet says: Visiting hours are twice a week , from 2:30 to 3:30 pm each Wednesday and Sunday parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters over 16 years of age are admitted. Grandma wrote in a letter that she’d shown up 2 minutes late and had been turned away because rules are rules.

Below is the introductory letter that must have come with the blue rule book. When I read this stuff, I often wonder how my grandparents didn’t come completely undone. As a parent myself now I can’t even imagine how gut wrenching this process must have been.

Mom was always pretty strict about her routines, and I’m guessing it came from this time. What struck me though was the line “Your child will be dressed every day to give him a feeling of ordinary living”. I completely understand it, and support it as it was probably the best thing they could do, but it’s a bit surreal to imagine trying to feel like you were living an ordinary life in the hospital during this time.
From what I’ve gathered, mom was having a really hard time eating at this time. I loved that they included candy, with the understanding that it is a special treat. But I was raised in a house where we were taught that gum was gross and not really allowed in the house (I have the same rule now) so the idea of gum making people in the laundry room frantic was something I could relate to.

I thought it was interesting that there was an emphasis on building the whole child. Think of what formative years these are for kids, and how much would have been missed by being in the hospital. When I saw that they had a library with over 2000 books I immediately thought of mom. But, as grandma mentioned that mom couldn’t even move her arms when she was moved there it’s unlikely that she was able to read anything unless there was someone there to read to her.

Every effort is made to give your child a normal, full and satisfying life. At first I kind of brushed this off. But you know, mom did go on to live a full and satisfying life. As for normal, from grandma’s stories it doesn’t sound like mom was ever a “normal” child, but she did learn to embrace the new normal that had been given to her and absolutely made the best of it.

Bloom where you are planted is a staying that has guided me, and I think mom embodies this phrase.

The tape is almost over. I am guessing it’s been about 30 years since dad and grandma recorded it – which apparently is just enough time for me to have forgotten that I also was sitting in the kitchen when this interview took place.


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