By Billy Hammond (Copyright AELS)

My mom was a nurse, which was a good thing because my dad was the town drunk who jumped from job to job, took out loans and often disappeared, sometimes for years.

 

The realization of my mom’s occupation hit home when I was in first grade. My dad had started his drinking binges the year before after becoming involved in local politics. Reflecting back, that’s probably what forced my mom to return to her career as a nurse, since he was spending so much money on drink and travel.

 

My memory of those early years is a bit fuzzy, but I remember my mom hiring someone to teach her to drive so she could get a job at the hospital.

 

My memories of my later years in elementary school are much clearer and I remember her working rotating day, evening and night shifts that were two weeks long. That meant that once every four weeks, we’d have a normal routine with her working during the day and staying home at night the same as the mothers of my classmates, who were regular housewives.

 

I sometimes chuckle when I think about my younger sister and my upbringing. Since dad wasn’t around, the two of us would be home alone; something unthinkable in the America of the 21st Century. We lived with my grandparents through part of 4th grade, so they covered for my mom during that period, but after that we were pretty much on our own.

 

Things that were normal for the other kids, like having one of their parents attend PTA meetings were out of the question and I was the one who had to make the meals for myself and my sister when my mother was sleeping off her night shift.

 

I still have memories of mom coming home with blood and vomit on her uniform, smelling of disinfectant, with her nurse’s bandage scissors in her pocket. That’s where I learned that you need to wash blood out in cold water. Nurse’s uniforms, caps, and gauze masks hanging on the clothesline. Mom, half-asleep ironing her nurse’s uniform and starched cap. Sewing the black stripe onto her cap before folding it and ironing it to again to form it…

 

And shoes… Nurses did a lot of running and standing in those days and my mom’s one weakness was for nurse’s shoes. She was thrifty and wouldn’t spend too much money on herself, but she would make an exception for nurse’s shoes, choosing the most expensive and comfortable ones she could buy.

(to be continued…)

 

看護師の息子(1)

母は正看護師だった。父は仕事を転々とする、借金もする、留守の多い村の酔っぱらいだった(2年間も帰って来なかった時期もあった)なので母の職種は妹と私の救いだった。

 

多分、小学校1年生のときに母の職業が分かった。父は田舎政治関連で数日間も続く飲み騒ぎするようになった前の年から始めただと何となく覚えている。顧みると彼はドンドンお酒や旅費にお金を使い込んでいたのが母の就職きっかけとなっただろう。

 

そのごろの記憶は定かではないが、唯一の田舎病院に勤めるために母が誰がにお金を出して運転指導を頼んだ覚えがある。運転免許取得後、そこに勤めるようになった。

 

その代わり、小学校の高学年の頃はよく覚えている。母は3交代勤務だった。日勤、準夜、深夜がそれぞれ2週間で、間には48時間の休み。つまり、4週間毎に専業主婦の母をもつ同級生の家と同じルーチンを楽しめた。

 

時々、妹と私の育ちを考えるとクスクス笑う。父が殆どいなかったため、2人だけで留守番していた。それなら21世紀のアメリカでは間違いなく親がネグレクトで逮捕される。しかし、小学校4年生の半ばまで祖父母と共に暮らしていたので、その間は楽だった。いずれにしても『我慢』することを覚えた。PTAなどの普通の親が出席会合は勿論だめだったし、夜勤明けで母が眠っているときは妹と自分の食事を作ることは当然だった。

 

母について目をつむれば、夜中の帰宅姿は今でも浮かぶ。日によって、制服に血液や嘔吐物が付着、消毒液の匂いがきつく、制服のポケットに包帯はさみあの頃から、血液は冷水で洗うものだと覚えた。母の半分眠っている顔で看護師制服のアイロンをかけている姿も思い出す。糊の効いたキャップをアイロンをかけてから、黒いリボンを縫い付けて形を整えるイメージも浮かんでくる(当時のアメリカでは看護師のキャップは母校の看護学校によって形や飾りが変わっていた。看護学校のピンも制服に着けることも必要だった)

 

それから!お金の無駄遣いを絶対しなかった母は看護師用の靴だけにお金をけちらなかった。当時の看護師は走ったりしていたし、立ちっぱなしの仕事も多かったため、靴はとても大切だった。

 

つづく

By Billy Hammond (Copyright AELS)

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English books published by AELS

(AELS出版英語書籍リスト)

 

I. Majoh Gakuin and Hikari Juku – Japanese Witch Schools Trilogy

1. Majoh Gakuin & Hikari Juku – Japanese Witch Schools

2. Lost Witch (The second book)

3. Fate & Magic (The final book in the trilogy)

II. Brindle – Scryer Extraordinaire Trilogy

1. Brindle – Scryer Extraordinaire

2. Brindle – Scryer Extraordinaire – Returns

3. Brindle – Scryer Extraordinaire – Challenges (The final book in the trilogy)

III. Fantasy fiction set in Japan

1. 21st Century Ninja

2. Regressed

3. Japanese Woman

IV. Fantasy fiction set outside of Japan

1. Dimension Jumpers

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