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Cheryl Hughes: Days That Make Me Strong

My Career As A Woman

I like nice, quiet days.  Days when I wake up rested, have my cup of coffee, my Poptart, and my fifteen minutes of world news.  When the weather permits on such days, I walk around in my yard, checking on the flowers and the horses and the yawning cats.  Those are pleasant days, but they’re not the days that make me strong.

The days that make me strong are the days like Wednesday, March 14.  I had planned my day the night before, even writing down what I hoped to accomplish on a note pad; but sometimes, a day takes on a life of its own.  Wednesday was to be one such day.

First, I over-slept.  I awoke to a sick granddaughter and a daughter who was a zombie because she had been up with her daughter during the night.  I had planned to go to Caneyville early to pick up a decal order from my friend, Sandra, so I could get back and help Garey with the greenhouse we were putting up in the back yard.  Instead, I told Natalie to go back to bed and I would take care of Sabria.

Sabria cried every time I tried to put her down, so I bundled her up, put her in her little red wagon, and pulled her around and around our driveway.  We passed the horses, the dog in the pen, and Garey (who was laying out the parts to the greenhouse that I was supposed to be helping him with) multiple times before we went back into the house, where we watched Dora the Explorer and ate chocolate Teddy Grahams until we were sick of both.

Nat got up and took over so I could make a quick run to Caneyville.  When I got back, Garey was ready for assistance on the greenhouse.  I helped put together metal tubing, tightened bolts, and hoisted frames until Nat came out to hand off Sabria, because it was time for her to go to work.  I held Sabria on one hip, and held the corners of the greenhouse cover with my unoccupied hand while Garey tightened the ratchets that held them in place. 

The wind decided not to cooperate as we continued to struggle with the greenhouse cover for another thirty minutes, so we decided to call it a day.  Garey held Sabria while I fixed dinner.  Sabria was running a fever, so, after dinner, I measured a dose of Ibuprofen into a medicine dropper.

“She doesn’t like this stuff, so you’ll have to hold her face still while I get this down her,” I told Garey.

Sabria cried, Garey held her face still, and I squeezed small drops onto her tongue.

Garey became frustrated and told me that I needed to squeeze the whole dropper-full at one time.  I reminded him about Sabria’s strong gag reflex, but he insisted, so I administered the rest of the dose with one final squeeze of the dropper then I stepped back.

I don’t have to tell you what happened next…but I will.  There was vomit everywhere—on Garey, on Sabria, on the couch, on the floor, but not on me, because I had anticipated what was coming.  Sabria was wailing.  Garey was yelling, “My God! Get it off!” so I took Sabria and headed for the kitchen sink as Garey headed for the bathroom.  A bath, a shower, and three thousand baby wipes later, the three of us were tolerable to be around again.

Sabria was still crying from the ordeal, so I fixed her some cool water, and I lay down with her on Nat’s bed.  After thirty minutes, she got her second wind, and crawled up to the headboard, where she rattled around, pulling things off of the nearby shelves.  At least she’s not crying, I told myself as a picture frame hit me in the head.  Sabria remained content until Nat got home to take over.

I drug my spent body to bed, but couldn’t sleep.  I lay awake, wondering how a one-year-old could completely hijack my day.  I remembered the “best laid plans” quote, and was dreading the start of the next day.  A thought began to form in my mind and with it, a glimmer of hope.  Tomorrow had to be better.  What else could anybody do to me?


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