Today’s lesson/challenge from Blogging 101 is to choose one Blog Event from the Community Event Listings. I chose a One Time Event called Around the World Reading Event Challenge.
You have to read at least six books in 2015. The author has to be one from every Continent and then do a blog about each of the books. I am interested and excited to be joining a community of like-minded people who love to read. I love to read and could not even remember the number of books I have read over the years. I mostly get my books from the library or the Friends of the Library Bookstore in the library. Otherwise I could not afford all the books.
Remembering the stories, titles and authors is something else again. Unless I have read the book more than once (sometimes I do this) or for some reason the book has made a lasting impression on me, I will not remember the book. I think joining this community and then blogging about the book will help me remember the stories. It is nice to be able to discuss the book with friends if they are interested.
So I am happy and looking forward to this challenge. Happy reading everyone!
The stories I am going to tell you are based on real events. The names have been changed due to the confidential nature of the subject matter. Also, some other changes have been made to make the story flow. These events happened during the late 1980’s through the early 1990’s. I worked on the Mental Health Inpatient Unit as a Clerk. I was working a three-day weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It was a twelve-hour day for three days, totaling thirty-six hours. The hours were grueling but we had four days off which more than made up for the long hours that we worked.
My story begins on a bright October Sunday afternoon. We got the call that a patient had gone AWOL, which I promptly told the Charge Nurse who then told me to announce it over the loudspeaker. This was standard procedure, first the announcement, then everyone who wasn’t busy would gather at the Nurse’s Station, which was right behind my station. Both my station and the Nurse’s Station were enclosed with sliding glass windows which enabled us to see out into the Day Room and beyond. This was important so that we could see all the activity and interaction between the patients.
The Charge Nurse would decide who was going to go after the patient. The patient who went AWOL was male and a regular on the Unit. Most of the people chasing him, knew him well as he had been admitted into the Inpatient Unit on many occasions. So a few of the HT’s, PT’s and sometimes the Charge Nurse herself, would go after the patient if we were shorthanded. This time the Charge Nurse decided she was going to join the others to go after the AWOL patient. Security was also alerted, usually consisting of one person who patrolled the parking lot for patients who may be wandering around. We kept in touch through walkie talkies then, since it was the early 1990’s.
There were four people plus security looking for the AWOL patient. He was spotted running through the parking lot, heading towards the ER (emergency room). The hospital was a short distance from the Unit and the ER entrance was the first door you came to from the parking lot. The patient was running at a pretty good clip and had almost reached the door to the ER, when Jennifer, the Charge Nurse, who was the closest to the patient, fell down on one knee.
She threw her hands down to break her fall and let out a cry as her knee hit the pavement. Blood started to spurt out of her injured knee when all of a sudden the patient, instead of running into the ER as he intended, stopped in his tracks, turned toward the injured Charge Nurse as though he wanted to help. He said, “You better be careful Jennifer.”
He then turned back towards the hospital door which opened automatically and disappeared through the ER entrance with the others following closely at his heels.
I worked at the Mental Health Inpatient Unit for a number of years and during that time many things happened both funny and serious, even dangerous. My usual shift was from 3:30pm to Midnight! Ours was the busiest shift for admitting patients, mostly patients brought in by the police, who wrote a 5150, which was a 72 hour Hold on a patient, who then could be held, as being either a Danger to himself or Others or Gravely Disabled.
I worked in a clerical position as a Ward Clerk, doing all the necessary paperwork, making announcements over the loudspeaker and taking calls. I worked closely with the Charge Nurse who as the name implies was in charge of everyone and every thing on the Unit. There were a number of Psychiatric Technicians, (PT), which depended on the number of patients and each PT was responsible for so many patients. Also there were a number of Health Technicians (Health Techs.) again depending on the number of patients we had, but usually we had about three or four Health Techs, (HT). They did just about everything from helping a patient to and from the bathroom to helping the PT’s put a patient in seclusion. Sometimes in restraints, sometimes not. There were two Psychiatrists on the Unit during the day shift which was 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and one doctor on the evening shift, 3:30 to midnight. We had beds for 34 patients with sometimes an overflow of up to 40 patients. Then for the NOX shift which was from 11:30 p.m. to 7 a.m., a doctor was on call. Also, the Crisis Team was in the building next to the Mental Health Inpatient Unit building. The Crisis Team interviewed anyone coming in on their own and not with the police: They were also available to the staff on the Unit whenever an emergency arose.
So, as you can see the Unit was a very serious place for everyone involved, workers, patients, families and doctors. But as often happens even in emergency or crisis situations, sometime funny things do happen and you have to laugh if only to relieve the tension which usually abounded in such places.
The prompts are very useful but sometimes they just don’t click or give you any ideas for a post. Then it is best to just go about your business and do a post on something that blows up your skirt or pants, whatever you happen to be wearing at the time. I would say for me the prompts sometimes give me an idea and I can roll with it, with no problem; then I just type like a demon. Then again, which is usually the case, I go with my own ideas and I find that usually I start typing and either do something that I think is good, or other times I have a problem coming up with ideas and struggle and maybe just give up or produce something that I think is crap. Of course it helps to be in the Zone and when that happens I can go on and on forever it seems and it all feels good. We all know how that feels.
Even with non fiction which I have been doing lately, I think it is mostly depending on your memory to come up with the stories, you still need to put it in a story form that will keep people interested and want to read your work. Otherwise it is not good!
So while I like to have the prompts to maybe help me come up with ideas when I am fresh out, I really do not depend on them for a post. But an idea may spring from a prompt that you may have never had without it,
When I turned around and saw the neighbor standing in her yard looking directly at us, I almost froze in my tracks. It was such a surprise to have someone catch us in the act of running away, was not my idea of what was supposed to happen. She continued to stare at us expecting an answer. We were related to her through my Grandmother and she and her family lived next door, although I really did not know her that well. Then something came over me and I thought to myself, ‘It’s really none of her business where we were going and why.’ I decided to be nice about it and said, “Oh I am taking the kids for a picnic,” and I waved the bags we had and said, “There’s some goodies here we are going to eat and have a really nice time.”
That seemed to satisfy her and she replied, “You kids have a good time then.” With a wave she turned and went inside. I was never so relieved in my life to see her go inside her house. But I knew she would be sure to tell the Aunts the next time she saw them, but by then it would be too late. We hurried down the street and headed for home.
It really wasn’t that far but when we reached our house it was a sight for sore eyes and we ran inside and did a little jig. We were so happy to be home even though it was still a shack in every sense of the word but Mother had made it a comfortable, cozy place and we loved it. I looked in the ice box and saw that it was empty and not even any ice to keep things cold. I was wondering what we would eat but then I thought of Mrs. D. and I told the kids to stay inside and I would be back with food.
When our neighbor, Mrs. D. saw me she laughed and said, “Your Mother told me that you were unhappy with your Aunts but I didn’t think you would come home before she did.” I told her what had happened and that we needed food and ice immediately because we were starving. Mrs. D. told me to go home with the kids and she would be over shortly with provisions for us. True to her word, she was there within the hour with food for us, and her husband in tow with a block of ice for the ice box. She said she would let Mother know and also let my Father know in case he was interested in helping us out. In addition she said she would come over and stay with us that night and do whatever else it took to keep us comfortable.
Father came by the next day with a bag of cookies and made a big pitcher of lemonade which we loved. I knew then that everything would be okay and Mother would be home soon. We also found out from Mrs. D., when she came over that evening after giving her family their supper, that Mother was just fine. Her tumors were benign and the surgery just removed the tumors, and she would be up and around in no time.
I was really miffed about the fact that Aunt Alice was using our Ration Stamps, especially to get sugar and butter, which I was then denied using to make cookies and fudge for us kids. Anna and I got the other kids together and had a meeting about what to do about it. We certainly couldn’t wrestle the stamps away from Aunt Alice. I was not even sure at this point if the other Aunts were aware of what Aunt Alice was doing but it didn’t matter, we decided we had to do something about the situation. And the sooner the better!
My suggestion was to gather up all our belongings and head for home. Anna was not too happy with that idea and said that she would not join us if we decided to go home. Now Anna was a favorite of the Aunts and they treated her better than myself and the younger kids. She was a happy person and got along with pretty much everyone. Anna and I usually agreed on most things and got along well as a rule. But this time I was adamant that we should go home and I knew I could take care of the other kids, but it would be nice to have her with us. I had taken care of the younger kids on many other occasions, while Mother was at work and Anna was elsewhere. I also knew that our neighbor, Mrs. D. would help us out as she had on so many other occasions. Maybe even Paddy, our Father, would come by and help out, of course that was not a given.
Besides, Mother told me when I was visiting her last, that she would be coming home soon, which meant a little over a week. I got the exact date from Aunt Wynne when she went with me to visit Mother.
So one day when the Aunts were still at work, I gathered Joan and Kay together and told them that we were going home. They were both surprised and pleased, as they didn’t like it there any more than I did. I had gotten our things together the night before and put them under the bed, so we were ready to go in no time. Anna had to stay late to practice for a play she was going to be in. Everything was in readiness and all conditions were set to go as I herded the kids out the door, carrying our few belongings.
We had just cleared the steps and were walking down the sidewalk, when a voice I recognized called out, “Hey,where are you kids going?” I froze and the other kids did the same. I had visions of being caught by the Aunts and confined to our rooms for the rest of the time we were there.
We all managed to get along for several weeks with little or no problems. Oh there were a few run ins with Aunt Alice correcting Anna and myself for having runny noses and making noises that she couldn’t stand. But we would try to stay out of her way for the most part. And we kids did not have as many sweets as we were used to at home. But we ate well and our clothes were washed and ironed and we attended school on a regular basis. This was in no small part, due to Aunt Alice being a conscientious person. Although we didn’t appreciate it at the time.
Aunt Wynne kept us entertained with her antics and stories fictitious and otherwise. And Aunt Anna liked her ice cream and willingly shared it with us. So that was all fine and we kids would hold our own meetings of a sort and go over how things were going at the Aunts house. I knew that Mother had given Aunt Alice money to help pay for our food and treats once in a while. Nevertheless, I was used to having more sweets, in the form of candy mostly. I had gotten in the habit of making cookies and even fudge for us kids when we lived at home. But it was wartime now and Ration Stamps had been instituted and sugar was at a premium. Also there was a shortage of butter which most people used in those days. Now those two ingredients were necessary for the cookies and even the fudge.
Up until this time I did not notice where our Ration Stamps were. But after missing my sweets and after asking Aunt Alice if I could make some cookies or fudge and being promptly refused, I began to wonder where our stamps were. I asked Anna if she had any idea where they could be and she said that Mother had given them to Aunt Alice to use for whatever we needed. It seemed that Aunt Alice assumed that she could use the stamps to add to the ones the she had, for whatever she wanted. I suppose to her way of thinking that was fine and dandy, never mind what we kids wanted. Now I had a sweet tooth that knew no bounds in those days and when I went with a friend of Mother’s to visit her in the hospital, I complained bitterly about the lack of the stamps to get butter and sugar.
“She wouldn’t even let me make fudge for us even though it is very easy to make and we all love it,” I groaned.
“Now Marion, you know how your Aunt Alice is, she has to be in control of everybody in the house. And you kids have to live there now, at least until I get home from the hospital,” Mother was trying to be reasonable.
“Well I don’t like it, and she is not in control of us,” I blurted out!
Mother made me promise not to cause any trouble with Aunt Alice because we did have to live there for a few more weeks. It seemed like an eternity though, having to live there with the Aunts using our Ration Stamps. I didn’t think I could stand it any longer.
We were starting to settle in at the Aunts house even though it was a bit strange not being in our regular beds at night. The days were going smoothly as we were used to getting up for school, eating breakfast and rushing off. Anna and I usually walked together with the younger ones trailing behind. We had a hot lunch at school consisting of a sandwich and soup, most days it was vegetable soup. Our lunches were paid for by one of the charitable organizations from the Church.
We usually got home about 3:30pm and were told what to have for a snack beforehand, by Aunt Alice of course. She had the snacks on a shelf in the pantry. Since Anna was the oldest, she doled out the snacks. Then we would go out in the backyard and play for while, usually until the Aunts got home from work.
Aunt Wynne and Aunt Anna got home first since they worked in the Silk Mill and started early. They always had a funny smell about them when they came home from work. The smell lingered on them even after they bathed and changed clothes. The smell was from the raw silk that they worked with, Mother told us. Aunt Alice came home a bit later but still early enough to make sure we did our homework and cleaned out room. She was constantly correcting us. Aunt Anna and Wynne were pretty easygoing and they would let us do pretty much what we liked to do. Of course they insisted on us getting the homework done also but at least they weren’t always correcting everything we did.
Aunt Wynne was funny and always seemed to be in a good mood. She would play games with us and tell us funny stories, sometimes the stories were not what children should be hearing. So of course, she was our favorite Aunt. One story I remember her telling us was around Christmas and as usual, we didn’t have much or any money for toys or gifts. Aunt Wynne was visiting and in an effort to help Mother, she told us that Santa had been arrested and that we wouldn’t be getting any gifts or toys that year. Now Anna was twelve years old and didn’t believe in Santa and I at ten years old was still wavering and could go one way or the other. But the younger ones immediately burst into tears and would not be consoled. Mother had to take Aunt Wynne aside and tell her not to say things like that to the children. Of course that didn’t stop Aunt Wynne except maybe for a little while. She remained her fun-loving, irreverent, over the top person she had always been.
Aunt Anna was a different sort of person. She was a quiet, keep to herself woman of few words. When she did have something to say, it was blurted out with no care of what anyone thought. This did not always sit well with whoever she was addressing, although she did manage to keep her job and was a good employee. We kids liked her but with reservations because we never knew what she was going to say.
So it was into this environment that we were thrust for a period of time that was uncertain.
I had once read an article in a writer’s magazine and the author was giving advice on how to become a writer. I don’t recall his name but I do remember that he was a famous writer, having written many best sellers. He said that when he was writing his novels, he always pictured his little nephew and then he would only write to him. It made what he was writing very personal since he was directing his words to someone he loved very much. I read that article a long time ago but it seemed to have stayed with me.
I need to remember it when I am writing although I have not always done so. I would most likely write with my Mother in mind. She was a great reader and she read several books each week even into her old age. My sister, who Mother lived with, said she had to start getting her books from the library, as she couldn’t afford all the books if they were new.
Mother had to go to the hospital to have tumors removed. It was not known whether they were benign or cancerous but in those days surgery was the only way to determine that. In addition to the worry about the surgery, Mother had the added concern about who would watch the children while she was in the hospital. Father was living with his Mother and had been for some time now. None of us wanted him to be staying with us even if he was willing to do so.
So Mother was racking her brain to see who she could come up with to do the job. Finally, it was determined that we would stay with Mother’s sisters, Alice, Wynne and Anna. They were still single and living in the big house that their Mother had left them a few years ago when she passed away. They all had jobs but since we were all in school most of the day and Anna was twelve and I was ten, everyone thought that we were old enough to take care of ourselves for a few hours between school and work.
Now Alice seemed to be in charge of everything at the house they shared. She decided how much each one would pay for all expenses for the house which included food, electricity and coal. Coal of course was a necessity as it heated the house and also supplied the heat in the stove for cooking and baking. So they all chipped in from their salaries for these necessities and since Alice was a professional woman, being a teacher and all, she gave the most. She always took care of her Mother in her old age, administering her insulin shots when necessary and helping her Mother control her diet for the diabetes.
Wynne and Anna worked in the Silk Mill doing manual labor and certainly did not make as much as Alice did. So they all agreed that Alice was to be in charge, and when we went to live with them, she of course was in charge of us kids. We were well-behaved even more than the average child because of going to Catholic school. The nuns had seen to it that we had respect for all adults and never uttered any swear words or sarcastic remarks. But of course when we were at home, the rules were a bit more relaxed than they were in school. But Alice being a teacher, expected us to be seen and not heard while we were living under her roof.
And for a seven-year old, I did have a bit of a sarcastic mouth when the occasion demanded and I got away with it at home especially when Father was not there. Mother was pretty easy-going as she thought we had enough strictness at school. And mostly we were pretty shy in public, so she never had to worry about us at those times. But Alice was a bit much especially for Anna and myself.