Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Little White Pill

 We grasp at straws when a loved one dies.
   .... sometimes we grasp at pills.

 I am working my way around the house, washing windows inside and out. Today brought me to the southeast living room window. Off to its side is Dad's smoking stand. For years before his death, Dad used it to store his pills, a sort of living room pharmacy.
 I can still remember Mom telling Dad, "Why don't you keep your pills somewhere else?" Every time she was cooking or doing dishes, Dad would want to get into the kitchen drawer which held his prescriptions. Dad wasn' happy about moving them but the two of us cleared a drawer in the smoking stand and I stood the pill bottles up there, labeling each plastic top with a letter (or a couple of letters if the letter was a duplicate). In that way, Dad (or I) was able to find the proper pill bottle without pulling them all out.
 It wasn't so convenient for Dad but it was better for Mom and so we made the move.

 So this morning finds me sliding the smoking stand away from the wall and vacuuming behind it. As I lifted the wires (power and phone), I saw a tiny white pill nestled up against the white baseboard. I reached down, lifted it to my eyes and immediately said "Prednisone". That was Dad's workhorse medicine for his rheumatoid arthritis.
 Many times his crippled hand would drop a pill. "God damn it!" he'd say as a pill skittered across the carpet. Every now and then one would drop behind the stand. Usually I found it. He may not have told me about this one or I may not have been able to find it.
 But this morning I did.
 I can't help with think of Dad lifting it from the plastic bottle, holding it gingerly between his fingertips and then watching it go sailing away, never to be seen by him again. If a pill could hold fingerprints, I feel sure his would be on it.
 I looked up the imprint on the Internet and indeed the pill is exactly what I thought: Prednisone 5 mg. How many times did I hand him one of these!
 It is a bittersweet reminder that he has been gone from us for 17 months now. The pill is a heartwarming reminder of his pain and the brief relief this pill could offer. It is not a mere pharmaceutical any longer; it is a tiny white memory I hold now in my hand.

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