Parrywinkle May 5, 2016


PHOTO COURTESY BLYTH MACKAY

Reminiscing about their time at the old Royal Vic, former nurses and all from Hudson, Diane Macaulay, Blyth Mackay, and Louise Wibe, shared a wonderful reunion - and many memories - at the Beaconsfield Golf Club earlier this week.

Hard to believe that it was almost 25 years ago this very month that I was released from the former Royal Victoria Hospital after spending 12 weeks or so trussed up like a BBQ chicken with a badly busted pelvis. This following a serious accident - not of our making, I hasten to add - when our car was concertinaed from behind by a truck during a blizzard on slippery Highway 40.

My beautiful Sunshine escaped, bashed and bruised, but virtually unscathed. I woke up three days later to find screws through my knees with weights attached to… Well, you get the picture. Suffice to say that I was bed-bound for the duration, unable to even turn over.

I later learned that had I been hit just a fraction harder, it was highly possible that my spine would have been shattered and I would never walk again. So much for that theory. As not only was I walking following intensive physio but, a few months later, I was even digging in the garden!

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SIMBA COMES TO VISIT - Why am I mentioning this? Because I recently received an e-mail from Blyth Mackay - now living in Kingston, Ontario - mentioning that she and four other Hudsonites and all RVH 'graduates' were planning on reuniting on Monday of this week for a very special lunch at the Beaconsfield Golf Club. Would I be interested in mentioning it in this column? She asked.

You bet your sweet bippy Blyth. For while there are many who are all too quick to criticize our medical system and its practitioners, I have nothing but praise for the guys and gals on RVH's East Wing who literally nursed me back to good health. With the utmost professionalism, patience, and a wicked sense of humour.

I remember, for example, late one evening when - still trussed up - I received a phone call from a friend of Mireille and I, wondering whether I was up to receiving a visit from her and my pet cat. Strange indeed since we did not have any feline pet and cats were not permitted in the hospital.

Intrigued, I pleaded with head night nurse that such a visit would boost my morale. “Okay, but make it fast,” she whispered. “And don't mention it to anybody in the morning.”

I didn't have to. Within hours, it was the talk of the hospital. You see our friend was then public relations director of Hemmingford Park Safari and, that evening, she had been promoting at a local shopping mall together with Simba, a four-month-old baby lion. Yup, my 'pet' turned out to be a lion cub, albeit on a leash, that she paraded along the hallway to my room. Where it immediately jumped on the bed and started licking my exposed screw-studded knees!

Patients in other rooms were going nuts. “There's a lion loose!” they were screaming. “Call the police!” Within minutes, little Simba was being portrayed as a giant man-eater escaped from a local zoo. The night staff didn't know whether to laugh or cry and needless to say, it was a lightning visit and certainly one of the highlights of my stay at RVH. Nor were any of the staff disciplined. Although I did get a few funny looks for the next few days. Visited Simba a few years later. Crikey Mick, she could have taken off my leg in one bite!

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TUCKED IN TIGHTLY - Not sure what was on the menu at the golf club on Monday, but I do know that Blyth, a graduate in 1952, drove through to meet and reminisce with Louise Wibe (1946), Diane Macaulay (1954 and now living in Maxville, Ontario), Marge Crombie (1965), and B.J. Leverette (1956). Unfortunately, B.J. was unable to make it as she, a member of the graduating class of '56, will be celebrating her big 50th with other classmates later this month. As was Marge who had to attend another important function that simply made her presence impossible.

Said Blyth who, I was intrigued to learn first started Source Natural Foods in Hudson back in 1979 in what is now the Facade boutique and who is the mom of Blair Mackay, co-organizer of the Hudson Music Festival, “Regardless of our graduation year, we all worked hard and trained well with knowledge and values that have no doubt stayed with us throughout our lives. Fast forward to 1971, the last year of on-site hospital training and the first year that John Abbott College opened on the Macdonald College Campus.

“Working in the registrar/admissions office - a director of nursing yet to be hired - I found myself welcoming the first nursing class to the campus. But what went through my mind that memorable day was, ‘Oh! They will never know the wonderful days of residence life at the hospital, where so many close and lasting kinships were formed!’”

Laughed Diane when asked what she will always remember about her training, “The rigorous rules that all bed sheets were to be tucked in tightly. No wrinkles. I really felt sorry for the patients who were trapped. Until the head nurse, who many patients will never forget, made her rounds!”

Certainly never had that problem Diane. And only glad she wasn't there the night Simba came to visit!

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PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY

Wyman Memorial United Church book sale volunteers (at right), Marion Gaetano, Loney Montemagno, and Peggy Shutler (seated) welcome at the cash counter Andrea Pittaro of Hudson and Brenda Wilson of St. Lazare who were among the hundreds snapping up book bargains at the two-day sale that raised almost $1,600 for local and other worthwhile causes this past weekend.

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BATHWATER BABY - Still on a health and hygiene kick, did you know that back in the 1500s, baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water? That the man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women, and finally the children? Last of all, the babies? By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, 'Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.' Neither did I!

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CATS AND DOGS - And how about this? Back then, houses had thatched roofs, thick straw piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place to get warm, so all the cats and other small critters - including mice and bugs – lived up there. When it rained, it became slippery and sometimes they would all slide and fall off. Hence the saying, 'It's raining cats and dogs.”

What's more, there was nothing to stop things from falling in to the house which posed a real problem for the bedroom, where bugs and other droppings could mess up one's nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. And that's how canopy beds came into existence!

Beneath the roof, the floor was dirt and only the wealthy had something other. Ergo, the saying 'dirt poor.' However, the wealthy too had their problems in that their slate floors would get slippery in winter when wet and so they would spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you actually opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. Hence, a 'thresh hold.'

Now come on. Don't you feel better for knowing that? I certainly do and thanks to Marcel Braitstein for sharing this titillating historical - if not hysterical - trivia with me!

And that's a wrap!

E-mail: creation@videotron.ca

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