Our mothers always remain the strangest, craziest people we've ever met.
― Marguerite Duras
The first time we brought him to the hospital he was not more than two. His babble led us to believe that our little angel, our devil boy, had swallowed a coin. A visit to the hospital and we were sent home to wait. Patience tainted with worry, colored by fear. And he pooped out that tiny copper coin like a bog boy.
The second time we brought him to the hospital was not much later, a hot summer day. He was burning with fever, poor petit bout de chou. This visit kept him in, no smiling child to ease our fear. A quick aspirin and a diagnosis "ear infection", the doctor giving us a slow shake of her head. We disagreed but felt better knowing he was being watched over, cared for. The following day I found him back to normal, happy as ever, keeping occupied in the playroom among the duplos and colorful books, hardly noticing my arrival. An older woman in a bright, flowery smock, a volunteer, was watching him, playing. "What is wrong with him?" she enquired. "He came in with a high fever yesterday," I answered. "Ah, sunstroke," she replied with a quick, assured nod of her head.
The third time was several years later, in Italy. He must have been four or five years old and his father was out of town leaving me alone with the two boys, no problem. But in hospital he found himself again. He couldn't breathe correctly, felt an obstruction (having been complaining for a week or so) and the doctors rushed him upstairs and tucked him into bed. "No child who feels something in his nose leaves this hospital without it being checked!" they exclaimed one and all, brows furrowed, doctorly looks coloring their faces serious, staring off over my shoulder, down the hall, intently. "He must have pushed a small object or toy up his nose!" they said accusingly, even as he shook his five-year-old head no.
And so he was put in the children's ward in a long, narrow room with eight beds, four lined up along one wall, four on the other. Seven children in to have their tonsils out. And Clem. And the rules were clear, strict as only Italians can be when it comes to their bambini: one parent was obliged to stay with their child during his or her entire stay. Much to my amazement, parents set up beach lounge chairs and camp beds, squeezing them in in every and any available space, piling them with pillows and blankets brought from home. Picnic baskets filled with dinner, snacks, breakfast made their appearance. And there I stood, l'Americana, lost and stunned. And with a two year old at the house and my husband down in Rome, I knew I could not spend the night with my son. Yet, generous and warm, that roomful of parents promised to take care of and watch over my son, shooing me out with their assurances. As my own son, thrilled to be in hospital as if it was some kind of Club Med holiday, barely considered me long enough to say "Go home now, mom!"
The following day, I arrived and watched my baby being rolled away to surgery, fighting against a team of four who were trying to stick a needle into his arm. What spirit! I waited, worried, pacing, knowing he was under. A mother's worry and fear. Until he was of the operating theater, back in his room and awake. One by one those kids were taken away, operated on (my little son only had probe) and wheeled back into the room to the arms and care of their waiting parents. And one by one, as those children awoke, they were offered a bowl of vanilla ice cream. Poor little children in such pain it was painful to see as they snuggled up close to parents and whimpered like puppies. Spoons of vanilla ice cream were carried to their mouths, which stayed clamped shut, teary eyes begging to be left alone, tousled heads shaking a decisive no to what otherwise would have been a welcome treat. Sore throats wanted no balm. And so my little son, feeling no pain, went from bed to bed and, pointing at those bowls of vanilla ice cream, politely asked each little boy and girl "Do you want your ice cream? May I have it?" and proceeded to eat all that vanilla ice cream, seven bowls, happy as a clam.
The fourth time was in Brest, middle of August, family vacation and he contracted a serious case of food poisoning and so, at about the age of ten, he found himself in another hospital bed this time next to a little girl of the same age whom, too, had food poisoning. And remembering the joyous time, quite the party, that he had the last time, alone and on his own without his parents and all the ice cream he could eat, as soon as he was settled into his room, he begged us to leave him! The last we saw as we headed back to the bank of elevators was little son, IV stuck into his arm and looped around a pole on wheels, dashing up and down the hallway with his roommate.
And now he is grown and checked himself in after a series of appointments, tests and visit with the anesthetist, all on his own. I walked him over and saw him to his room, into his bed where, with phone in one hand and ipad in the other, silly shower cap on his head and surgical slippers on his feet, he happily, patiently waited to be taken to the operating theater. We laughed and joked, but my worry, my fear never subsided, mother that I am, and as I walked home after obtaining his promise that he would text me as soon as he was awake, I realized that some things just don't change. And how much I love them.
And we realize how fragile life is. And we realize how fast they grow up.
For him I bake. Summer's abundance of stone fruits and berries just cry out for crisps, crumbles, cobblers and pies. I paired sweet, ripe nectarines and cherries for this outstanding Crumble.
Find the recipe on Plated Stories Crumble.
Other summer fruit and berry recipes you might love:
Rhubarb Berry Crumble
The Best Old-Fashioned Peach Cobbler
Mixed Berry Prosecco Sorbet
Mixed Berry Lattice Crust Pie
Strawberry Mascarpone Whipped Cream Tart