Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Ever since I can remember, my father did the shopping every weekend. It was almost always on Saturday before breakfast that he would go to the supermarket and then get back home in time to eat, after which he would leave for the second run to the discount dry goods store, Fedco. Every weekend was like clockwork. And before I was five, I rarely went with him. But sometimes I would. Once I accompanied him and I convinced him to buy my sister and me Flintstone chewable vitamins. I loved these vitamins. They tasted sweet and medicinal with the metallic taste of minerals left behind after all the food coloring and the sugar. Having vitamins in the house was not a habit, but it was not so out of place, either. On this day that he agreed, I was ecstatic. I could not wait until we got home and I could tear off the top and the vacuum-sealed foil wrap which protected the freshness of the vitamins inside. But first, my sister, mother, and I had to help carry in any bags that my father could not bring in the first time. Once our chore was done, I snuck the clear plastic bottle of vitamins into my room and I ate them. One after the other. I have no idea how many I ate, but it was somewhere north of five. After while, I was sated, and I put the bottle back where it belonged.
Now, weekends were always a time for chores for my sister and me. After unloading the bags of food or dry goods, we were to help clean up after breakfast and then help with gardening, mowing, trimming the trees, and cleaning up after our two rabbits and dogs. Again, this was a regular pattern that set the rhythm for each Saturday and Sunday. Most of the chores were done by sundown Saturday, but occasionally we would plant flowers or do extra work that we could not normally get done in time on Saturday on the next day, Sunday. So it was about the time that I should have shown up to help my parents do some of the chores when I started to feel sick. I didn't know what was happening to me, but I felt out of sorts. Maybe dizzy. Maybe warm. I have no idea. But I knew that I was not the healthy 'me' that I had been moments before. I lay down on my bed and just felt lousy. I think my parents were calling me and I don't think I even mustered up a response. I was completely focused on my body and how lost I felt in this sickness. At some point, my parents found me lolling around on my sister's bottom bunk, and they felt to see if I had a fever. They did not think so, but I was not looking good. They asked how I was, but then decided to leave me to recover. I had time enough to realize that there was a relationship between me eating all of the vitamins and how I was feeling. I realized I should never do that again. But I was never going to tell my parents about it. They would kill me.
Even though I eventually bounced back, I lay there for some time afterward. There was no such thing as leisure time that I can recall in my childhood. So I decided to take advantage of the free time that I suddenly had on a Saturday to avoid doing my chores.