Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"Flores para los muertos?"

Sometimes I remember a pharmaceutical company with the name of a
beautiful flower as my grandmother's killer. As she dissolved
gradually into purple veins and sunken muscles, she cried out in pain
more often, held me in her lap less often, and took always more pills
from small, rectangular plastic bottles with graceful cursive writing.

At the time I didn't think the bottles were killing her. At the time I
thought they were unusual boxes of secret-content size and I looked
forward to her emptying another so that I could have it for my
treasures. It was the time before safety precautions, and they had
simple narrow necks with small screw-top metal caps. Perfect for
childhood collections.

My sister and I used the bottles with the beautiful cursive names for
the tiny plastic beads in delicious snow cone colors that you use to
bake faux stained glass sun catchers. I loved that the flower that
made me think of Easter, of spring, of delicate smells and pastel
colors was also the holder of the magic beads that created fragile art
at home. My sister and I were wild about making sun catchers, most of
which were Christmas themed. The warm smell of plastic baking in the
oven and tiny funnels and precise tweezers for perfect placement of
color flakes meant Christmas comfort to me. And the little metal screw
top bottles meant Granny to me.

Somehow on the path to adulthood, the mental image of the flower named
bottles and the Christmas arts and my grandmother's painful, slow
passing got mixed up in my mind. Somehow when I got older and I
understood cancer and in retrospect what all those moans and prayers
really meant, I looked at the bottles again for what they really were.
Typed, neat, pharmaceutical script read "Granny Wy." The flower
bottle didn't save her. The color chips didn't excite me anymore. But
still sometimes when I root through my parents' basement I find a
bottle that says "Granny Wy" and it is still filled with ultra sky blue
beads. It makes my heart hurt that now the flowers smell funereal, not
Easter, and the colors look tedious, not adventurous.

Tonight, I am taking a medicine from the same pharmaceutical company
with the childishly innocent cursive logo. The bottle is a sample from
my sleep doctor, for my insomnia, not cancer. But I push in the foil
stamped over and over "Flower, Flower, Flower," and I screw off the top
that isn't child proof, and I look at the rectangular container with
the fluted neck; I remember. I remember Easter and the smell of the
church filled with flowers and my grandmother asleep in her recliner
weary after another trip to the doctor. And I remember the red and the
blue and the amber beads and my sister's precision as we celebrated
Christmas by dropping one tiny chip after another into small metal slots.

As I push in the foil that says "Flower, Flower, Flower," and I draw up
the cotton, I think all these things, and I wonder if I will sleep
tonight. The sleep of "Flower, Flower, Flower."

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