I was 6 ½ when I got strep throat. I don’t know if it was the first time, but I recall this time so very clearly because of the events that transpired on that fateful day. As was typical, the trip to the doctor’s to confirm the reason for my fever and sore throat was made on foot. We had only one car and Dad had it at work. Mom walked me to the doctor.
Once there, the diagnosis was made and the penicillin shot was ordered. Not being a stranger to that hypodermic needle, I was less than pleased with the prospect. Just at the critical point of entry, I flinched and in so doing, managed to break the needle. Now the doctor had to not only extract the broken needle from my derriere, but attempt the shot a second time. This time I did not flinch, for I was certain that to do so would have sentenced me to certain death.
Some time during that doctor’s visit, my mother was informed that her mother, my Granther, was on her last few hours of life. I do not know how she was informed. I only recall that somehow, either right after we got home from the doctor’s office or at the doctor’s office, Dad picked us up, along with the rest of the family and we made the trip from Bowie, MD to Arlington, VA, where my grandparents lived.
Everyone was able to get out of the car and go in the house, presumably to see Granther one last time. I really have no idea whether they did get to see her alive or not. I was too caught up in my own misery. The failed shot had somehow resulted in a painful, stiff leg, so, I was told to just wait in the car.
I always regretted not being able to say my final farewell’s to my Granther. I always cherished the memory of the song my bothers and sister and I sang to my grandparents maybe four months earlier, when, knowing my grandmother was terminally ill with cancer, they decided to take probably the only real vacation they had ever taken, and traveled to Bermuda. This is what I have always considered my goodbye to my Granther.
That was in 1964. My grandmother was, I believe, 54 years old.
37 years later, I did get to say goodbye to my grandfather, and, in fact, hold his hand and talk with him for several hours…his last waking hours before he passed away, just shy of 97 years old. And still, I felt compelled to sing to him (he loved that). And yes, this was one of the songs I sang.