A Friday Afternoon with Nurse Sunday

I could hear my Mom talking quietly to Gideon in the kitchen.

“Don’t say anything. Just let me work this out so Rebekah won’t be sad…” she murmured.

She then joined me and my middle child in the master bedroom, where I was resting on the bed and Rebekah Sunday was playing nearby.

“Rebekah…” she hedged, a proposition in her voice, “I need your help. I have to go home for a meeting with our insurance lady, and I need Gideon to go help me. But I really need for someone to stay here and help take care of Mommy. I’m going to give you a dollar and I want you to be her nurse for the rest of the day.”

Betsie was asleep upstairs and, with only days until my due date, Mom was doing her best to help me have a peaceful afternoon; she couldn’t take Gideon and Rebekah home with her, because she really did have that meeting.

I observed Rebekah from my perch on the bed, not quite sure how she would respond; as much as she loves her home, she can’t stand it when anyone goes anywhere without her.

But I had underestimated her. Apparently, the combination of cash and spending the afternoon playing nurse was enticement enough, and her eyes lit up as she eagerly nodded her head. I think her tongue was even hanging out like that of an eager puppy. It was a deal!

I really shouldn’t have been surprised.

You see, Rebekah, from the day she started being able to communicate, has had one major ambition: taking care of people.

I’ve mentioned this in the past, but I’ll never forget the night, just past her 1st birthday, when I suddenly became ill and ran to the powder bathroom to empty my stomach. My baby girl was right on my heels, observing me with her unblinking gaze, and placed a tiny, soothing hand on my shoulder until I was finished. Then she reached up and quickly flushed the toilet. I stared over at her in wonder, and bizarrely, the look in her eyes was one of compassion and understanding. It was rather shocking to be ministered to by a baby, and it was the first of many such occasions where she has seemed more like the caregiver than the child.

But lest you think she is an angel sent from heaven, you should know the rest of the story. Neck-and-neck with her compassion and servant’s heart is a plucky determination and steely persistence that will just bowl you over. This girl doesn’t mince words, and she has an answer for everything

To give you an example, last week as I was observing myself in the mirror, turning this way and that, I said “Rebekah can you BELIEVE how big this baby is making my belly?”

“I don’t think it’s the baby making your belly big,” she replied in her no-nonsense manner, “I think it’s the food.”

It was a simple yes-or-no question and I don’t remember soliciting an opinion, but like I said, Rebekah doesn’t wait until you ask her what she thinks.

Nor does she wait for you to seek out her help…

Every night, sometime before daybreak, our eldest kids wind up in bed with us, and I usually enjoy cuddling with them more than anything. But being pregnant has changed things, and when I wake up flanked by two hot children, I sometimes want to bust out of bed like Lazarus out of the tomb. One night, just seeking the tiniest bit of relief, I turned sideways a little,  moved my left leg around Rebekah, and stuck it out of the covers…

My faithful nurse, not knowing I was hot, sat immediately up and covered my leg, patting the blanket when she was finished.

A few minutes later, hoping she was asleep, I stuck my leg back out.

She sat back up and covered it.

I stuck it back out.

“Here,” she whispered, before draping her entire body over my leg and foot, “I’ll help keep your leg warm.”

“Oh…uh…” I stammered, trying to gently explain that I needed some space.

“Shhhhhh…” she interrupted me. “You’re warm now. Go to sleep.”

I laid back down and inwardly whimpered, right before I passed out from a heat stroke and acute claustrophobia.

So you now get it now. She’s so thoughtful, and a born nurse at heart, but she’s also super…insistant. Persuasive. Authoritative. Schoolmarmish.

Still yet, all this considered, I was really pleased that Mom’s bribery had panned out and that Gideon would get to spend some time playing outdoors at Grandmother’s house, while Rebekah would stay home and play nursemaid….

until she came back into my bedroom with a washcloth, some vapor rub, and a box of Band-aids.

“I’m ready to be your nurse!” she sing-songed.

My eyes widened in fear and amusement and my inner voice screamed “SOMEBODY HELP ME!!!”

So much for a “peaceful” afternoon.

The next hour or so was spent being “ministered to” by Nurse Sunday, doing my best to encourage her natural maternal gifts while narrowly avoiding a head-to-toe Vick’s rub-down.

In fact, the first thing we did was put the Vapor Rub back in the cabinet.

Then, returning to the bed, Rebekah pulled out a wet wipe.

“What’s that for?” I nervously asked.

“To wipe you with!” she responded.

“Uhhh…” I said, a bit speechless.

I can’t tell you how relieved I was when she started wiping down my arms and neck with the wipe.

Then she started scrubbing my face with it.

I tried not to recoil. Old habits of fearing break-outs are difficult to shake.

“Thank you…” I feebly said.

She smiled, squinting her eyes at me.

“Now I need to give you some Band-aids,” she said, scanning my arms and hands. “Do you have any hurts?”

“Hmmm…” I said, looking as well, “I actually don’t think I do. Maybe I don’t need a Band-aid?”

She looked at me patronizingly, and the message in her eyes was clear: You’re getting a Band-aid, fool.

That’s when I remembered the mosquito bite on my leg. I pointed it out to her.

Big mistake.

“Oh, Mama…” she said, in the tsk-tsk manner. “Look at ALL these bites!”

I looked to where she was pointing and saw the faint leftovers from a bevy of little gnat bites I received one steamy day on the porch.

“Oh, those aren’t -”

“Shhhh…” she interrupted. “Let me fix them.”

She squirted some baby lotion on her hand and started rubbing each spot down with her index finger.

“Doesn’t that lotion feel so good?” she quietly asked, looking over at me and raising her eyebrows up and down.

I giggled. “Yes, it does,” I had to admit.

“That will help the Band-aids to not hurt when we take them off,” she confidently explained.

She wiped the leftover lotion on the bedsheets and then on her striped tights. I bit my lip so I wouldn’t laugh and embarrass her, even as I tried not to cringe at what she had just done to my bedding.

Then, opening three very large Band-aids with aplomb, she began applying them to various parts of my leg, her brow faintly furrowed in concentration.

Finishing, she abruptly clapped her hands three times.

“Now I need to get rid of all this trash!” she exclaimed, gathering up the Band-aid papers and wadding them quickly and efficiently into a ball. She flopped onto her back, rolled to her left and stuck a gymnast’s landing on the floor before running to the bathroom trashcan, her little shoulders hunched in my most favorite way.

“Don’t go anywhere!” she called out, “it’s time for me to lotion the rest of you!”

Oh dear… I thought, for I knew what was coming…

Watching her Grandmother lotion my feet near the end of this pregnancy has inspired her to do not just the same, but to lotion every uncovered inch of me. She asks to do so nearly every day, and the only problem with this is, she prefers “the pink lotion”…

Johnson’s baby lotion…

so that, by the time she is finished slathering me up, I smell like a big, giant, overgrown BABY.

It can be downright nauseating, but here’s where you need to know something about Mrs. Gore…

I’m a pathetic person. And even though I am 31 years old and am in charge of lots of humans, I love to be seen to. I don’t care if it is getting my hair brushed, my back rubbed, my back scratched, my head rubbed, my feet rubbed, my hands massaged, or my blackheads extracted, being tended to is one of my favorite things, and it doesn’t matter how long you minister to me, I still pout a little when you’re done.

I had a dear friend in high school who brushed my hair for TWO hours one night, and I was still sad when she stopped.

Therefore, I have seriously weighed the cost, and decided that smelling like a giant baby is a small price to pay to have Rebekah’s little, soft hands rub my feet for ten seconds apiece.

She got started right away, first rubbing down my left arm.

Then my right.

Then, humming absentmindedly, she smacked a huge dollop of lotion on my neck and starting rubbing it in, all over my neck, under my chin, at the top of my chest, and even on my black tank top.

“Oh my…” she muttered, seeing the mess. “We need to get you another wet wipe.”

Resuming her humming, she whipped out another wipe and started cleaning off the excess lotion, whipping it around like she’s been doing this kind of thing for decades.

“La la la la la…hmmm, hmmm, hmmm…duh dah duh dee…”

Then it was back to the lotion, first my left foot and left leg, followed by my right.

As the smell of baby lotion invaded my nostrils, my mind wandered and I pictured myself in an adult diaper with a Ring Pop pacifier in my mouth. Which made me think of my poor Mom, whom Rebekah has singled out as her future full-time occupation…

“When I grow up, I’m going to be Grandmother’s Mommy,” she says, “and when she is old and little, I’m going to put her in a baby crib and give her baths and put her hair in ponytails.” My Mom listens to her aspirations with an expression of terror mingled with adoration, and in my present predicament, I knew exactly how she felt…

happy to be loved and considered, but somehow, feeling younger and more vulnerable than a 4-year old.

Nurse Sunday rolled off the bed like a gymnast again and threw the wet wipe away before sticking her head out of the bathroom door. “I need your help, Mom,” she chirped. “Can you get down the First Aid box?”

“No…no.” I stammered. “I don’t need anything out of there.”

“You do.” she insisted.

“No…really, I don’t.” I insisted.

“Oh yes, you do…” she sang.

“No.” I repeated.

“Then how about some eyedrops?” she asked, holding up the bottle of Saline solution.

“No…” I pleaded, “I don’t need eyedrops.”

“Just one?” she begged. “One for each eye?”

“No. I don’t need eyedrops today. Really. No eyedrops…” I persisted.

“Okay, then, I’ll brush your hair,” she said, and joining me once more on the bed where I was laid back against the wall, started brushing strands of my hair down into my face.

She was humming again.

“Thanks Rebekah…” I said, blowing the hair away from my mouth.

“You’re welcome!” she said, “Is your nurse making you feel better?” she asked.

“Actually…” I said, “she really is.”

She smiled contentedly, and I knew in that moment that this had been time very well spent.

After a thorough hair-brushing and a short backrub, my eyelids grew too heavy to hold open and I humbly asked if I might take a nap. She approved, and curling up on my side, I cuddled up next to my Nurse Sunday, who sat up quietly looking at books.

Our “hospital” room was very quiet, and just like my Mom hoped, extremely peaceful. I reveled in the moment, studying the features of this daughter I love so dearly, already reminiscing fondly over the time we had just shared, regardless of the fact that I was covered with lotion and bandages and my hair was bushy and frizzy. I said a quick prayer that I wouldn’t go into labor before I could deal with all the side effects of an afternoon spent with Nurse Sunday…

Eventually, her posture began to droop and, laying her book aside, she laid down next to me. Our eyes met, and I took in once more that unblinking, blue-eyed gaze that has been captivating me for four beautiful years.

Sure, she might be pushy sometimes.

She might be bossy.

She might be opinionated.

She might misinterpret my needs and force me to cover up when I’m hot…

But as far as I am concerned, Nurse Sunday is exactly what the doctor ordered.

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