A Scottish Romance
I awoke to a sun filled hospital room all alone. My right ankle was bandaged and propped up on pillows. My back was stiff and aching and my bladder screamed out to be emptied. I forced myself to sit up, throwing the sheets off my legs I quickly swung hem over the side of the bed. With one hand firmly gripping the I.V. stand and the other holding onto the side of the bed I slowly slid off and stood up. Immediately my right ankle buckled under the pressure, tumbling backwards I fell onto the bed. leaned back resting on the palms of my hands lifting my ankle back onto the pillows it came from. The reality of my injuries hit me. For the next few weeks I would have to rely on someone. Something in my twenty-two years I tried not to do. Even wh I was a child I wouldn’t ask my mummy or da how to do things, I would sit down and figure them out for myself. Now I had to go pee so bad it hurt and I couldn’t walk. I looked around the room thinking up a way to get to the bathroom. I could always rawl across the floor, I mused. No Kathleen, you won’t go crawling across the floor like a baby. You can figure this out, think.”
I leaned out my arm to rest against my elbow and bumped up against something. Laying on the side of my bed was a white cord with a red button, the words “nurses call button” written on it. I decided to push it to see what would happen. Might as wel get used to people helping me out, I thought.
Seconds later a middle aged nurse walked in with a smile. “Ah, Miss Caldwell your awake. How are you feeling this morning?”
Like crap! I wanted to shout. “Less than grand. I was wondering if you could help me to the loo. I’m afraid I can’t walk on my own.” It was hard for me to admit that to a total stranger. The great, strong Kathleen can’t perform an ordinary everyday ask.
“’Tis to be expected, dearie.” She helped me to the bathroom and back to my bed. She even had to help me sit down on the toilet. I was so embarrassed. Afterwards she hurried away to make sure my breakfast would be delivered.
I was just finishing my breakfast of dry scrabbled eggs, cold toast and bitter tea when Megan walked in carrying a beautiful assortment of purple flowers. “You brought me flowers and my favorite color too.”
“I did, but they’re not from me.”
Megan smiled a mischevuious grin and I knew something was up. “Your knight in shinning armor, who else?” She replied.
I decided to have a wee bit of fun with her. “Which one? You know I have soooo many at this time.”
“James McGregor, you silly thing. I’ll just set these by the window.”
“Oh, that one. A thoughtful one, he is.”
Meg handed me the card and I read it as she placed the flowers on the window sill.
Feel better soon.
All my love, James
I slipped the card back into it’s white envelope laying it on the bed beside me. All my love, James he had written. Was it something he always wrote or did he really mean it? My mind raced, my heart thumped just a little bit faster.
Megan came back around the bed to sit on the end of it, careful not to hit my ankle. “I popped round the shop early this morning to pick up something and he showed up at the door asking if he could pick out some flowers for a special friend. I s d he could and we started chatting about who he was buying the flowers for. He said they were for you of course and I told him I’ve known you my whole life practically. The funny thing is I didn’t even tell him your favorite color was purple, he just arted picking them out. Didn’t I tell you your knight would come?”
“Yes, but he wasn’t the only one to save me. His mate Mal helped.”
“That must have been the bloke who was waiting in the car. James said he was on his way back to London.”
“He did leave, then.” I said aloud, more to myself than to Megan.
“What was Mal like? Tell us all about him, I didn’t get a good look at him.”
“Very tall, strong, someone you wouldn’t want to get mad. He had long, thick hair, black-framed glasses.”
“Not a connection there, eh?” Megan asked trying to sound nonchalant, smoothing out the pale white blanket. She never told me straight out, but I knew she wanted me to find the kind of happiness she had. When we were wee girls and she would come to s nd a night at the farm we would sit outside under the stars and talk about our futures. The two of us dreamed of marrying two marvelous guys and live next to each other for the rest of our lives. Having children at the same time, raising them to be be friends as well. The dream was put on hold when Meg met Henry and married and the guy I was casually dating decided I was to serious. He wasn’t ready to be tied down just yet.
“Yes, but more of a friendly big brother type. A man who’d protect you. Speaking of knights, where is Henry?”
“He stopped off at the gift shop, he’ll be round soon. I wanted to get you something, but not flowers like everyone else would and I couldn’t find anything in the gift shop I thought you’d like. Hen told me to come up, he’d be along shortly. I think has something up his sleeve.”
At that moment I heard someone at the door. “Hello, Kathleen. My name is Teddy McScotty and I’ve come to cheer you up.” Sticking around the door was a brown, stuffed bear with a red bow tied around his neck. Henry poked his head through the crack in he door, his eyes dancing like a wee boys. “You like teddy, do you?” He asked me while making his way to us.
“He’s a grand teddy, Hen.” Henry handed the soft, squishy bear and I held it close to my heart, squeezing it. “He makes me feel better already. Ta, Hen it was very thoughtful.”
“Saw him sitting on the shelf in the gift shop. Started calling out my name, he did. You know what he said?”
“What did he say?” Megan and I said in unison.
“He said, Henry take me to that grand lass Kathy, I heard she needs some cheering up. So I said, Teddy your absolutely right.”
I smiled up at Henry and thanked God for giving me such a caring friends. I don’t know how I would ever get through one day without them. “Henry, your an amazing, brilliant man.”
“They must have her on medication. What are they giving you, Kathy?” Megan joked.
“Hey, my own wife is putting me down now. What is the cockney rhyming slang for wife, trouble and strife?”
“I was only mess’n, Hen.” Megan stood up wrapping her arms around Henry.
Henry looked down into her eyes tilting her chin up with his hand giving her a soft kiss. “So was I.” There was no doubt about it. Those two were in love.
I cleared my throat. “Can we bring the focus back to me?”
“Always the one for dramatics, isn’t she?” Henry said releasing his wife’s lips.
“It’s time for your next pain pill, Miss Caldwell.” My nurse strolled in handing over the two white pills- my liberation from pain.
“Ta, my head was starting to hurt again.”
“Is there anything else I can get you?” The nurse asked checking the I.V.
“Do you know when the doctor will be round?”
“Not for another hour, I’m afraid, when he goes on his rounds.”
Actually he didn’t come for another two hours. Megan and Henry left to go to church shortly after I took the pills. I let them take effect by laying back holding Teddy and closing my eyes. Thirty minutes later a knock came at the door. Thank goodness, maybe it’s the doctor, I thought “Come in!”
“Hello, luv. Feeling better I hope.”
The pain pills must have been better than I thought because my doctor transformed to a handsome twenty-something male dressed in gray pants, white dress shirt, gray and blue tie. He ambled over to the bedside, emerald eyes staring into my own ashen eye “I’m sorry you probably don’t recognize me without me uniform. My name is Sean MacDoland, I’m the medic from last night.”
“Oh yes, now I recognize you. For a minute there I thought you were my doctor because you see I’m waiting on him so he can tell me when I can get out of this bloody place. My name is Kathy Caldwell, I can’t remember if I told you last night or not. I was in so much pain.”
He shifted his stance slightly, fiddling with the bunch of daises in his hand. I waited for him to announce they were for me. He looked up at me and I made a gesture with my eyes towards the flowers. “I’ve brought you a get well gift.” He held out th daises with such enthusiasm waiting for approval. I smiled and Sean replied with a warming, shy smile of his own. “I see I’m not the only one.” He pointed to James’s flowers on the window sill.
I suddenly felt protective over the flowers and didn’t want to explain who they were from or how I felt about him. James was just for me at the time, not knowing when or if I would see him again. I wanted to keep him in my heart, saving the wonderful oughts and visions of him. “Do you always bring gifts to all your patients?” I tried to bring his focus back to me.
He smiled and shoved his hands into his pockets. “Only to the pretty ones.”
“Thank you for the compliment, Sean. I’ll ring the nurse later to put them in water.” Carefully laying the flowers on the side table I gestured for him to sit on the chair nearby.
“You ankle wasn’t broken then?”
“No only a sprain. I want to thank you for taking such good care of me, for being so gentle and kind.”
“I was only doing me job.”
“And what a fine job you did.” His eyesight started to wander around the room. He ran the palm of his hands along his pant legs. It was obvious he was nervous. “Did your boyfriend give you the flowers?”
“No. . .just a friend. I don’t have a boyfriend.”
Sean sat up straighter in his chair and wrapped his fingers around the armrests. “Would you like to. . .I mean when your out of hospital and are well. . .”
“Are you asking me out on a date, Sean?”
“I guess I am, yes.”
Sean sat gazing past me out the window. It had been a couple of months since my last date and I was ready to have a bit fun. James McGregor was on his way back to London. He told me he didn’t know when he would be back to Campbelltown. Why should I y no? He’s such a kind bloke and it did take him courage to ask me. “Guess I’m saying yes, then.”
“Grand!” His face lit up and I felt a little guilty for not having any strong feelings for him like I did for James.
“How about we leave the planning till I feel better.”
“Of course. How ‘bout I leave my number with you and then you can give me a ring when your better or before then if you like.”
“Sounds like a plan to me.”
Sean wrote down his number and laid it by his daisies. He said goodbye giving me a blissful smile.
Later my mum, dad, and sister came to visit me. After finding out from the doctor I could leave that afternoon my mum and sister went to pack up my things from my flat. I would have to stay at the farm since I couldn’t take care of myself. The nurs gave me a prescription of pain pills and instructed me on when to take them. The doctor wanted to see me later in the week for a check-up. Mum scheduled an appointment.
“Is Ginger OK, da?” I asked once we were alone. My beautiful horse had been on my mind, I was worried she hadn’t gotten back home OK.
“Aah yes. I found her wandering around outside the barn when we got home. I tucked her back into her stale telling her it wasn’t her fault and not to worry about you because you were fine. I don’t think she believed me because she wouldn’t eat her oats.”
“Thanks, Da. I’ll have to see her when I get to the farm.”
Shelly and mum came back and my nurse brought in a wheelchair to wheel me out to the car. Da gentle seat me into the back seat of their black landrover. At the farm I laid spread out on the couch with my sister and brother doing their best to keep my ind off the pain. Mum made up the room I would be staying in and went about making my favorite dinner for tea. While da carried up my things.
Da carried me out to see Ginger that night. I caressed her head cooing out reassurances. She nudged me with her nose and I knew she was saying her sorrys. Later Da settled me into bed. He sat with me for awhile, the moonlight pouring through the sli of the curtain to light up his face. I could see a silver teardrop descending down his cheek leaving behind a wet trail.
“Da, are you OK?” I made my way over to the side of the bed he sat on. I took one of his callused, large hands with mine. This was one of the rare moments my father let his emotions show through his rough, Scottish exterior.
“I blamed Ginger for your falling. I wanted to yell at her when we got home last night. When that Mr. McGregor called us and told me you were hurt I could feel my heart sink down into my chest. Then I saw you laying on the sofa. . . I didn’t know wh to do. There was no way I could help you, heal you.”
“There’s nothing to worry about now, daddy. After a couple of weeks of resting I’ll be back out riding and helping you in the fields. I know I haven’t been around as much as I should be, but I promise to you and mummy I’ll help out more often.”
Da squeezed my hand and looked down at me. “You don’t have to worry about helping us out. Jeffrey is here and if there comes a day when I can no longer work we’ll be able to hire a hand. We still have the money your Granada left us when he died and m and your ma has some money put up. And no matter how old you get or what happens to you I will always worry about you, Kathy. When your a parent you’ll understand. You’ll want to protect your child any way you can even if it means hurting yourself.”
When I became a parent. That day seemed so far away back then. Sometimes we as humans question our life plans, wondering why we don’t have what we want when we want it. The truth is we’re not ready when we think we are. Life still had a few more lessons for me to learn before I could really be prepared to be a parent.
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