It’s so easy to forget the real meaning behind Memorial Day. Especially when the weather is as nice as it has been this weekend. I was at work Friday, and it already seemed like a day off. It was an easy day. Several patients last-minute cancelled, and a few others no-showed. The folks who came to the urgent visit slots at the end of the day were all hurried and harried, needing to take care of annoying health issues before they left for the beach: a ‘kind of’ itchy rash, an early sinusitis, ‘it sometimes hurts’ foot pain, a tick bite. (Lots of tick bites this time of year! I haven’t diagnosed any Lyme disease yet, but have diagnosed plenty of patients with Lyme anxiety. Loads of prophylactic-dose Doxycyline).
There were no seriously ill or complicated patients, no bad results to discuss, no obscure medical issues requiring a page to a specialist. For the first time in over a year, I had some free time at lunch. I didn’t know what to do with myself. Should I write something? Well, no. Being a type A medical geek, I decided to do some academic reading (on Lyme disease, since everyone thinks they have it) and get ahead on results letters and skeleton notes. I sat at the computer and worked. After all, I thought, I have the whole holiday weekend to write.
And so here it is Monday evening, and I haven’t written a thing until now. The whole weekend was basically spent hanging out. Either just me, hubby and Babyboy, or with the addition of my immediate family. Granted, there were extenuating circumstances: my 85-year-old grandmother was admitted to the hospital with GI issues, and we didn’t want to stray too far. We actually spent some real quality time in her little hospital room, watching baseball while Babyboy cuddled up next to her and napped. The nurses got a huge kick out of that. I think she did, too. So, the fact that we neither had great plans nor got much done is, in a very real sense, totally acceptable.
But usually, as in my Friday lunch, if I have any time at all and I have ANYTHING to get done, I am all over it. But this weekend, I just didn’t care. I didn’t want to do much of anything.
And given that grandma is in the hospital, we also didn’t go to grandpa’s grave. He was a World War II vet, in the Navy, a fireman aboard the USS Canberra. He was on board, somewhere, on Friday the 13th 1944, when they were torpedoed by the Japanese. 23 men died in that attack, I gather most of them in the engine room. The ship was then towed to Baltimore along with another crippled naval ship, but unbeknownst to the men aboard, they were being used as “bait” meant to lure the Japanese to attack while the US naval fleet lay in wait nearby. It didn’t work. We only know that much from doing our own research. In my whole life I never ever heard him talk seriously about the attack. He’d brush off any questions with something like “Well, I was in the brig for the whole episode, for being insubordinate, let me tell you THAT story…” except the story would change from being insubordinate, to fighting, to being set up for something he didn’t do. He died when I was in my late 20’s, a med student, and as far as I know, no one really knows where he was when the ship was torpedoed. Maybe he was in the brig.
And so, if I am to do one small thing to acknowledge the meaning of this holiday weekend, it will be to let my grandpa know that we’re thinking of him, and we’ll tidy up his little spot soon. A salute to our veterans, and respect for their stories.