It seems only yesterday I was writhing and giving birth, then looking in amazement at the beautiful little bundle I had nurtured inside me for 9 months. A much-longed-for curly-headed miracle. Some time later I had watched her playing with her grandfather, as she described with vivid imagination the major accident he had just had in which he had been hit by a lorry carrying glass. He had a broken leg and broken glass embedded in his leg.
As he lay pretending on the sofa, she painstakingly picked out the glass with huge plastic tweezers which her three-year-old hands could barely grip, her nurse's cap balanced precariously on her tight little curls.
Later still aged 7 on a visit to my parents she had watched a real-life incident where her grandfather fainted at a craft fair and was attended by St John's Ambulance. Little did we know at the time, this was to be the onset of his leukemia and they ordered an ambulance to take him on to the local A&E for tests. This inspired her to join St John's Ambulance as a Badger - the name given to the little ones who wear
|Photo courtesy of flickr.com|
She was never going to be a linguist like Greg or me. He and I studied German and could also get by in French, Russian, Italian and (in my case) Latin. Kay struggled with French, was a lot better in German and Spanish, but clearly preferred the sciences. (I was certainly the opposite and struggled with Physics and Chemistry at school). Kay was clearly on her own in this family for her science studies. No scientists or doctors to help her at all, even if it were just absorbing occasional parental conversations about their jobs.
Then came GCSEs and A-levels when she had to get her head down and concentrate. At that point Greg had taken early retirement and was embarking on his excessive drinking sprees. He was never violent, as I have said in the past, but drink did make him argumentative and loud. He didn't suffer fools gladly and would shout at the silliest things. Coupled with falling over a lot and umpteen hospitalisations when his body protested severely at the amount of alcohol - this was the backdrop for Kay's serious studies. Both she and I tried to blot this out and I tried to carry on as normal (as normal can be in an alcoholic world) to give her support. Given all that, the fact she got into med school at all was a miracle, not to mention the general fierce competition for a medicine place (one in twenty).
Six months into university, of course, Greg died. She missed a couple of months' study and an important exam, but the university agreed there were extenuating circumstances and let her take the exam in the summer holidays. Since then, she has powered on and amazed me. She may not have liked languages but medicine is a gobbledegook all of its own. So many unpronounceable conditions, drugs and treatments with never-ending syllables. With an -itis here and an -ectomy there.
My little curly-headed baby is a doctor and I still have to pinch myself that it's not all a dream. She's going to be out there practising (in the medical sense, not literally!) but this time with real instruments and on real patients. There'll be no pretend lorries or pretend glass there.
She came home earlier last week with the last six years packed tightly inside her car right up to the roof. You couldn't have fitted a matchstick in anywhere. She has officially moved out of the northern university town that was her home for the last six years and is now back in the South East about to embark on her first job. My reasonably tidy home was converted to a bombsite within minutes, as she unloaded box after case after clothes on hangers (when did she acquire more clothes than the entire stock of Oxford Street?) She was home for less than 18 hours. In a whirlwind, which I think was her, she unpacked, showered, headed off for a quick admin-interview with her new hospital some 20 miles away and flew off to Amsterdam at stupid-o-clock the next morning with a friend to start the beginning of a four-week European tour. My life is just about to get very