By the Wind Grieved

By the Wind Grieved
“O lost, And by the wind grieved, Ghost, Come back again.” Thomas Wolfe

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Another Bite-Size Memoir

Mother With Sick Child by Vasily Perov 1878

While I think about the direction this blog will be heading, I continue to explore the circle of bloggers that Lisa Reiter has introduced me to. And, since Lisa puts a new Bite Size Memoir challenge up each week, I have again decided to use it as a taking off point for my own writing. This week's challenge is to write ten statements or a 99-word reflection on CHILDHOOD ILLNESS.

I have opted for the ten-statement format. Here we go.

Childhood Illness

1.     I remember light like a knife coming through a window.

2.     I remember the pain reverberating behind my closed eyes and screaming over and over for my poor mother, who had left me sleeping on the sofa of the small house we lived in, on the grounds of the nursing home where she worked.

3.     I remember tonsils like lumps of hot coal in my throat.

4.     I remember a piercing whistle in my ears.

5.     I remember the cold, foreign feel of the glass thermometer under my tongue.

6.     I remember chewing on tiny orange-flavored baby aspirin, and wanting more.

7.     I remember feverish spells in tangled sheets, when time seemed to stop.

8.     I remember hearing everyone leave for the day as I lay in bed, and the glorious, dread sound of an empty house.

9.     I remember my mother coming home in her nurse’s uniform, making me bend over and marking my little ass with a red mercurochrome “X” while saying: “X marks the spot where Jean got shot.” (Followed, of course, by the jab.)

10. I remember the restorative feeling of a bowl of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup on the first day of recovery.

Illness is of course yet another theme that affords a chance of saying something familiar to us all in a unique way. I am not sure I have achieved anything strikingly evocative with my ten examples here, and I spy a cliche or two in the lot, but it was an instructive exercise. 

Now it is your turn. I would love to see your ten statements or 99-word "flash memoir" on childhood illness.


  1. The year was 1959 when the rash appeared. As the blisters formed all over my body I was tethered to my bed in the corner by an invisible leash.

    The itch was unbearable. There was no one to rub calamine lotion on my little body to help relieve the creepy-crawly feeling as those blisters tighten with fluid. One scratch, just one scratch to make the itch go away, but hearing, “Don’t scratch, it will leave a big scar.”

    All alone, siting in my bed. Mom, why are you not here to take care of me? I need you. Jhere

    1. Striking reflection Creative Mind. Made me think how we would scream if, as adults, we had to endure some of the torments that besieged us as children. And yes, do we ever get over that feeling of abandonment that we experience as children. Love the phrase you use here: "tethered to my bed by an invisible leash." Thanks for "playing"!

  2. I find these evocative of the physicality of illness - your descriptors are spot on. Mine are bland in comparison! But these echo memories I had forgotten - of terrible sore throats when you couldn't swallow and ear-ache - oh _ how could I have forgotten the number of times I lay with pus on the pillow after my eardrum had given up holding back the infection - a sudden sharp pain and then ringing in my head and then amazing relief! Thanks Jeanne - whichever way your blog's going, I love your explorations, Lisa x

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  4. Thanks Lisa. As I said you are keeping me going here on my blog, and, inspired by BSM, I am thinking of developing my own "flash memoir" posts and see where that goes. As for the illness piece, yes, the pus! How could I have forgotten that! Will pop in later to see what you are up to on Sharing the Story and BSM.

  5. Why do you do this to me when I have so much on my plate already?!! But I can't resist:

    1. I remember accepting the possibility of death from asthma, over telling my Mom I had smoked a cigarette.

    2. I remember the phone placed near the couch for me to call Mom at work, if I needed her during the day.

    3. I remember Jack so worried about my feverish shivering that he put every blanket in the house on me, then waking up later sweat-drenched. (That this typically tyranical 12-year old brother cared for me that day has always been a happy memory.)

    4. I remember red Coriciden pills, Luden's Cherry cough drops & a nasty cough syrup that tasted like fermented grapefruit rinds.

    5. I remember the doctor who made housecalls, the one with rheumatoid arthritis. I never thought I'd forget his name, but I have.

    6. I remember catching everything.

    7. I remember my mother lancing a cyst behind my right knee and crying because she hadn't believed how sick I felt that morning when she made me go to school.

    8. I remember my mother saying, "If I can get up and go to work, you can get up and go to school. Take an aspirin."

    9. I remember growing pains...itchy joints, charlie horses,...

    10. I remember Dad having enough sickness and breaking out the blackberry wine.


    1. Thanks for your contribution Twink2. I of course have the benefit of remembering some of these moments. (Number 8 is why I put the thermometer in the boiling water. I knew Mother didn't fall for a mere moan or whine.) And # 3 is very touching...the dual nature of children. I love all the detail you have included! Keep writing, no matter how many tasks you have to get through in the day. That is the challenge!