Today, March 21st, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.
My dad, who had a great imagination and a gift for storytelling created for each of his 5 children some imaginary character that he put in a magical world with our real traits and flaws. He could make up stories in a blink. When we were sick, when we were bored, when we were in the car, when we got hurt. When we were all together, like in the car, the stories were always about all of us. But if we were alone, he crafted a personalized story with our own character.
When I was a kid, I got tonsillitis frequently, and to get the penicillin fast in my system I needed to get a shot in my buttock. My mom was the one that gave us the shots, but she hated doing it, She always started to whine and complain of how horrible was to give a shot, while holding the syringe and its needle up in front of our faces. And those needle were something.
I remember the first time I needed to get one of those shots, I freaked out. I was crying, terrified; the more terrified, the tenser I became; and the tenser I got, the harder my buttock became. Probably my mom and dad were very frustrated with the whole situation. I was lying sick in the bottom of a bunk bed. After several minutes of not getting anywhere and zero compromising from my part, my dad, following a sign of desperation from my mom, climbed into the bunk bed, wiggled around to adjust his tall body on the side of the wall. He started to caress my hand, and ask me to breath like a little dog, and while I was breathing, he started to tell me a story about the little pigeon who loves to cuddle. His soft voice, his enticing story filled the room. Then, little by little, the heavy liquid entered in my system through a somehow calmed mother’s hand.
I don’t know if it was from that moment or it was already developed in my mind, but I wanted to be a doctor. Who doesn’t when you are six year old! My parents took my dream very serious, and eventually the little Pigeon character, had a profession. She was a doctor. The stories developed rapidly. Miss Pigeon committed lots of mishaps and funny mistakes as a doctor and we listen to her misadventures with delight. My character became to be la Doctora Pichona, -Miss Pigeon, the doctor.
The Christmas when I was six, I received as a present an entire doctor set. But it was not the cheap cookie cutter set that every kid probably was receiving that Christmas. It was the most complete doctor set I could imagine of. It was in a huge and personalized flowery box. Inside was a real doctor’s uniform that my mom adjusted from a white school apron that little kids wore in public schools. There were all sort of pills made of candies, placed in perfect little glass containers. It was real gauze, band aids, thermometer, tape, even a stethoscope, and a doctor mask.
Everybody was admiring my set. Aunts were congratulating my mom for her ingenuity and all the time and dedication she put into it, and she was explaining that my dad walked for hours downtown trying to find every single item. While chatting, little by little they helped me put on all my attire. The only thing missing was the mask and I would look almost like a real surgeon. I was starting to believe it, until I grabbed the mask and my aunts and uncles gathered around me cheering and saying. Yes, yes, the mask, she has to wear the mask! I felt my mom’s hands tying the laces in the back of my head, and then dragging me to a mirror so I can see Miss Pigeon, the doctor for real. As soon as I saw the white mask perfectly made by my mother, wrapped on my mouth, my body tensed, I gasped. An uncontrollable cry started to come out of my throat. The vision of me as a real doctor was frightening. I couldn’t breath, I didn’t like anything of it. And I could see the disappointment in my parents’s eyes. Miss Pigeon, the doctor didn’t want to be a doctor, didn’t like her best and only Christmas present.
Until now, I remember that terrifying feeling of my look. However, I don’t know if I was crying more for the look, or for letting my parents down by not enjoying my present.
The last time I saw my father was two months before he died. I knew in all likelihood I was not going to see him alive again. I grabbed his hand, and told him for umpteenth time. Dad, I want you to know that I love you. I love you with all my heart. He looked at me with his big fragile eyes, and said with a sweet smile before falling asleep again. Lo sé mi pichona, lo sé. Yo también te quiero mucho. I know my Miss Pigeon, I know. I love you so much too.