Green Swiss Dot Memory
My next conscious memory was very exciting and would affect me in a way that I could not have anticipated. I woke up that morning with all the excitement a six year old body was capable of containing. My eyes went immediately to the open closet door , hanging there was my new green dotted Swiss dress. This was the day, my Mother had said that I could wear it! It was a hot summer day in August, and would be one of the last really hot days, because in South Dakota summer wanes quickly once it decides to go. Kneeling there on the floor, so that my eyes were just level with the sill, I looked out of the window, the birds were at the birdbath and though summer was about done , everything was still green, my favorite color! Green seemed so beautiful to me, the color of life and spring. I was pleased to think that Grandma had made the new dotted Swiss dress “Green to match you eyes”, my Dad had said. I hugged myself and bounced a little with sheer joy.
My parents weren’t awake yet. A narrow closet in our house went through from my bedroom to theirs. With the the closet door open, which Mother had granted as a concession to view the “new” dress, I could tell everything was still silent in their room in the quiet of the summer morning. As I knelt there looking out, it crossed my mind that this was a very special day or Mother would not have allowed me to wear the green dress on a week day. But I didn’t know what the event was to be. It was enough to know the day had come! I had had a bath and a hair trim the night before , I wore my hair in a strait Dutch boy bob, with carefully cut bangs. My hair was a nice enough brown and very shiny, but so straight! Dad told me it was like his, because his great grandmother had been a Sioux Indian lady and the inheritance came through to me in an easily tanned skin and straight hair. That was fine with me because everyone said, I looked like my dad, and since he was my hero, what could be better?
I heard stirring on the other side of the house and knee my parents were getting up. I crawled back to bed and waited for Mom to come and open my bedroom door. Our house was very small, though I didn’t realize it then. Our only closet was the one that went from one bedroom through to the other, our bathroom had been snugged in between my bedroom and the living room: ‘snugged’ being an apt description for our pocket side bathroom. Before my parents were married, my father had worked at the Bank. He had heard that an old schoolhouse in the country was for sale, so he purchased it, had it moved in from the country, then divided it into rooms to make our house. It was an inventive solution for the housing shortage that was prevalent in our town at that time. But it did make an unusual room arrangement. To give privacy for bathroom use, my bedroom door was kept closed during the night. In the morning one of my parents would come to open it and in that way my day would begin.
Taking time for breakfast that day would have been unbearable anyhow so I was delighted to see that we were not going to do that. When Mom came in she was already dressed and urged me to get up and get going. She even helped me make my double bed, which was a pretty hard task for a six year old to do alone, when the bed was pushed tightly into the corner. All kinds of possibilities ran through my mind, but Mom was mum on the subject of the day’s upcoming events. Even Dad was no help!
What could it be I wondered, while Mom helped me dress. I even had new anklets with lace! I felt so beautiful as I pirouetted in front of my parents. We rode in silence, but I was bouncing on the back seat. Where could we be going I wondered again? It had to be something absolutely wonderful! I felt no premonition as we headed up the walk to the doctor’s office. During my six years of observations, I’d seen adults do so many mysterious things that resulted in surprising results, now I was merely curious about what lay ahead. My trust in them was absolute! That trust was about to be tested, however, for we had arrived at our destination.
The doctor was a family friend, actually he was married to my father’s former secretary so when I saw him I was eager to show off my pretty green dress. He smiled and called us to come back into a small square white room. There was a chair there and a table with some instruments on it that I didn’t recognize, though they looked like some of Dad’s fishing equipment that he kept in his tackle box. One item I remember was a kidney bean shaped metal dish. I knew what kidney beans were and it caught my attention. “What is that for?” I asked, but no one answered me. My Mother took me back into a small dressing room and said I would have to take off my dress and put on a white gown with a big slit down the back. “Why?” I asked, nervously.
“You know all those sore throats you’ve had? Well Dr. Studenburger thinks you need to have your tonsils out and we don’t want your pretty green dress to get ruined, do we?” Nothing really registered except the part about the green dress getting dirty, I certainly did not want that. “Can I put it on again afterwards?”, I asked. “Yes, if you want to.” mom replied reluctantly. Why wouldn’t I want to I wondered, but things were moving along rapidly.
The doctor talked to me about the sore throat I would have for awhile when he was done. Well, I was familiar with sore throats, I’d had a lot of them, so I just shrugged and waited. Then he and the nurse began to prepare, but he did take time to tell me that I could have all the “green” pop and ice cream I wanted when I woke up. I remember thinking about that when the nurse put the cone over my nose. Dr. Studenburger is such a good friend, he knows I love green and wants the pop to match my news dress. On that happy note I passed out under the ether.
As you can imagine, after a tonsillectomy, pop and ice cream were far from my thoughts when I awoke. What a sore throat! The expression, ‘You’ll feel like your throat has been cut’ has since than assumed real meaning for me. There were two lumps of something in the kidney bean shaped dish by my bed when I awoke, they were later dropped into a bottle of alcohol for me to save. I did not want to save them, or anything else from that awful morning, except, of course my new green Swiss dotted dress.
Years later I asked my Mother why she didn’t tell me, prepare me? “I guess I thought it was best to let you be happy, and what difference would it have made in the results? It had to be done, and you only would have worried.” Then she smiled, “How happy you were in your new green dress, I wouldn’t have missed the memory of that happiness for anything.”
Perhaps she had a point, when I think of going to heaven some day, I have the same feeling of anticipation I felt on that long ago summer morning. Only this time I know instead of putting on a new green dress I’ll be wearing a glowing white robe as I go up the walk with the Great Physician. Glory!