giving blood

I pull off the band-aid from my arm. I have given blood today, B+ being one of the rarer types. Was it too soon after my operation? Maybe I gave too much. I slid into a hot dizzy nausea when they removed the needle. It kept me sideways in a bed with a cockeyed swarthy doctor calmly ordering, “kick your legs, kick your legs” while a skittish nurse threw long wet white stripes of cloth and ice water over my neck and wrists. What-?! What is she doing?! I gasp, alarmed at the wet soggy shock of cold. I want to punch her in the head. “Trust me, it will make you feel better” she said, and threw another one on my neck. I know. I know. But really. It all feels like college hazing and it ends in a juice box and Oreo cookies. Nora, left unrestrained, watched with interest and ate enough packaged junk food to make her sick in the car. As she moaned in the back seat, “Mommy, why why why” I just kept telling her, “We saved a life today, and now I have to go to an audition for bug spray.” I reel in, ten minutes late, and catch the last round of actors. I show my band-aid and quickly explain, the casting director laughs and says, “Oh Frangione!” I try not to teeter too badly, still being woozy. I euthanize a cockroach into the camera and then I’m on my way.Unknown

Tonight my fellow comes over after a full day of work, plops his long legs up on my ottoman and pulls out a textbook as thick as my thigh and begins to mutter latin. He is studying for his recertification as an RMT. He has big strong warm healing hands. i’m glad he is sharing his gift with the world. I smile at him from the kitchen, tenderly. I am doing long distance dramaturgy, my head crooked over a phone while stirring pasta and chopping basil, as I speak with a dear playwright about the devastating and remarkable story he’s lived to tell: present and past tense. I am anxious to be useful to him because last night I really missed the mark with someone else. What can you do? More hearing less trying. Some praying. A sprinkle of grace for all of us. I listen intently as I crack peppercorns into the carbonara.

Fellow wants to get as much book time in as possible because tomorrow he has taken on a double shift. He already has two jobs. Now he’s adding a third. He barely says a word all evening, he is so tired. He just sort of blinks and smiles over slow mouthfuls while Nora chatters on, grading me on motherhood. I start with a C+ and after much cajoling, i work up to an A-. She is very clear that it is a minus. She reminds me that Lisa Ravensbergen never raises her voice. I sigh, “I know, I know, she’s terrific, isn’t she? Best playdates ever. Lisa and Tara Jean.” And then my daughter lets Fellow know that I once called her a jerk. And this is true. I admit it freely. I called an eight year old a jerk the day before her birthday because that is what she was being. If that makes me an A- Mom, so be it. Grade away. I ain’t a chump for nobody.

After dinner, as I clear the table, I peek into the living room and dear dear dear Fellow has slumped over his thick text book, fast sleep. I dim a light and let him be. I tuck my little one into bed and sing her a lullaby and kiss her head. She says earnestly, “A- is a VERY good mark, Mom. Even a C+ is just fine.” I chuckle, “I know, darling.” I hang her clothes and feed the kitty. Then I wipe up the failed experiment: “make your own lava lamp at home!” The pool of baby oil. The scattered food colouring. The plucked Alka Seltzer packages, long past plop plop fizz fizz and oh what a relief it is. Then A- Mom finishes the laundry and clears up the dishes.

I have another two hours of work to do. By eleven o’clock, I am still at my desk writing. Fellow comes stumbling in all blinky and pink cheeked. How can such a big man look so Grade three? He wants to go home, it’s an early day tomorrow. I give him a bag of rapini peelings for his chickens, kiss him goodnight and off he stumbles with his heavy bag like a school boy who has been given way way way too much homework. I say something about feeling ashamed that I don’t make more money: he’s taking on this extra job so we can afford to become a family. If I was a lawyer like his last girlfriend, or a successful business woman like his ex-wife…don’t think I don’t think about that…poor man. Stuck with an artist. Theatre, no less.

He smiles and calls out something about me making a million dollars when I finally finish that novel I’ve been writing…or the film, the opera…or the next big play. The worrisome thing is, I think he actually believes in me.

I close the door behind him and picture him pale and blood-letted, laying on his side kicking his legs. Does he give too much? Is life with me going to drain him?

I write and write and write until my eyes are blurry and red. I fall into bed and fast asleep and bolt up at four in the morning AWAKE AWAKE AWAKE. I pant. I stare out the dark window. I’ve been dreaming of my Dad. I remember…maybe I was sixteen…? He was single, living with Roberto. He had borrowed some money from his brother to build a home from scratch and was hoping to sell it for a profit. He was clever like that with his hands. It was beautifully built, top of the line. But the sturdy brick home, for all of its integrity, sat and sat and sat and sat and sat. And we would go out in his van and drive around and around the block in the dark while my Dad would mutter in low pleading desperation, “Why why why? Why won’t you sell?!” Beads of sweat on his forehead, his calloused wide hands helpless at the wheel. I suspect he worried his children would inherit his humiliation. I certainly haven’t grown up with the idea that hard work is automatically rewarded. I wonder who lives in that house now? Built on a foundation of shame, blood in the mortar, running hot and cold with a dead man’s carefully laid copper pipes?images

My heart rushes with the thought that I should give Fellow up. I should set him free. I don’t want to bleed him out. He shouldn’t have to be stuck with me. He should find a nice…a really nice dentist with shoulder tension…with tons of benefits and RRSPs who drives a four door BMW, owns her own house and loves to shop at MEC.

In this quiet dark place I simply hear the words, “The meek shall inherit the earth.” It’s the middle of the night. I am not expecting a Bible verse. Meek. That is so NOT my middle name. Is that the problem? I struggle because I am not meek enough? Geesh. I just went back down to a C+ Mom.

I pull on my slippers and patter over to the computer, slide on my glasses and re-acquaint myself with the word meek. what the hell is it, anyways, besides a nice word for wimp.

“Quiet gentle and easily imposed on.”

Hm. That’s not a wimp. That’s a person who gives.

Then I double check with a Biblical concordance and meek is synonymous with “humble” and “gentle”. Matthew Henry’s commentary includes, “The meek are those who, in their patience, keep possession of their own souls, when they can scarcely keep possession of anything else. Meekness promotes wealth, comfort, and safety, even in this world.”

What do I have to give to my daughter? To my Fellow? To my community? Maybe I don’t have much in the way of possessions. But I can cultivate gentleness and comfort. I do have joy. I do have rare blood to give and not be depleted, because I do know how to make more.images-1

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1 comment

  1. Kelly

    I also have B+! I think we should listen to our own blood type and “be positive”!! 🙂 You were a A+ friend and I always thought meek meant weak too! 🙂

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