Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Brave Little Girl? No, Not Really Mrs. Calvi...

Granville Ave School Pic - Way back When!

Being in my hometown during the holiday’s means lots of last minute hustle and bustle like everywhere else on the planet, but especially on the main drag of town, where most of the stores and boutiques are.

Last night as I was just about to walk into the local grocery store, a woman in a red jacket was wheeling her cart out. We both uttered the obligatory “excuse me” and exchanged smiles. I was about to walk past her when all of a sudden the lady in red, who for the rest of this post will be referred to as LIR said: Oh my goodness, Kelly Kunik, HOW ARE YOU? I HAVENT SEEN YOU IN AGES!

The woman looked oddly familiar and I definitely recognized the face, but her hair was shorter than what I remembered. The years had been kind because she looked pretty much the same as when, when….when what?

Did I take tap dancing lessons with her daughter? No, that wasn’t it.

Did I go to school with her kids?? Nooo, I don’t think so.

Did…she work at my old elementary school as an office Aide?

Me: Oh, I’m great thanks. How are you?

LIR: Fine- how’s your mom doing? She moved a few years ago right?

Me: She’s doing great and yes; she’s still in town but on the other side of Jerome Ave, down the street from the church.

LIR: You haven’t changed a bit!

Me: Thanks! I can’t remember your name though Mrs…

LIR: Mrs. Calvi, (Stupid me, the name of her families company was stitched on the jacket!) I used to work at Granville Ave Elementary School when you were little. And of course I remember you, how could I forget! You used to have diabetes and would come to the nurses’ office for orange juice when you needed to.

Me: Yep, that’s me. I still have diabetes-it hasn’t gone anywhere last I checked. And I still reach for the juice whenever I need to. I’m surprised you recognized me, Granville Ave was a long time ago!

LIR: How are you doing with the diabetes?

Me: Great. No complaints, everything still works…for the most part.

LIR: You look exactly the same! You know, I always thought you were the bravest little girl, always having to take shots and having to go to the nurse when you had to. You’d march right in the office and say: I need juice RIGHT NOW PLEASE!

You’d drink up all your juice, wait a bit and then you’d say:“thanks and see ya later” and continue on with your day.

Me: WOW, you really do remember me! Thanks Mrs. Calvi. It was great to see you again-Happy Holidays!

LIR: You to! Tell your mom I said hi!


As I walked in the store all I could think was: A brave little girl? No, not really Mrs. Calvi, but thanks. More like a realistic little girl who was always afraid of the “diabetes what-ifs,” but didn’t want the rest of the world to know it, so she pretended to be fearless.


tmana said...

What most of us don't see is how much courage, bravery, and heroism have to do with either not having a choice, or the alternate choice being so scary-bad that we'd do anything to avoid it. It is this, once we realize it, that makes hero tales into Everyman stories -- and our own everyday lives into hero tales.

George said...

This post made me tear up. For those without the D they do not understand that we do not feel brave and tough, but rather that we are just doing what we have to do.

The fact is, we have a choice.

It takes guts to choose to live.

You are brave as are all of the people living with diabetes and not giving up.

babscampbell said...

Ambrose Redmoon, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear."
She's probably mentioned your name every time the word 'diabetes' was brought up in conversation. You know. . "when I worked at the elementary school, there was this brave little girl. ."
Even as a child, you inspired. people. GREAT story!

Rachel said...

all the little ones with diabetes are brave. (or other chronic illnesses.) they don't know how serious things are, they do what their elders need them to do to stay healthy.

and I for one, thought it was awfully brave of my elementary school classmate to endure the guillotine lancet back in the day ;).

Cara said...

I think we've all gotten that "How brave you are!" comment from people. And like George, I think people don't realize that you are just doing what you have to do. It's all just part of our lives. Nothing that they wouldn't do if they were in our shoes. But it's cool to be remembered. :)

Childhood said...

I love this post. I just found you via a tweet from @diabetic_iz_me. My daughter Allison turns 4 today. She was diagnosed the week before Thanksgiving this year.

People ask me how I do it and say how brave she is. I tell them... "I do it because I have no choice. We're in this together."

I've not sheltered her. I explained from day one why she would need the shots at each meal. We've discussed her pancreas and her insulin and her blood glucose.

She is indeed a brave little girl but she was before the Diabetes. Now she's just a brave and informed little girl.

Zita said...

Thanks for giving an insight into what my son is probably also thinking. I got the best Thank you note from his nurse yesterday after I gave her a small token of appreciation for all she does in "my village". She said, "Thanks for sharing "A" with me. He makes me laugh. Can't help part of that is his way to keep a "brave face." They have such a great relationship, when he forgets to bring more test strips, juice, etc., she emails and says, this is "A's" personal assistant. He needs, XYZ and adds a smiley face.

My son is growing up so fast. Yesterday his concern at the endo wasn't about the "D", but about getting back to school in time to take two tests before Winter Break. That's where his stress resided yesterday. He was a little ticked that the rest of the class took their tests in the morning and got to watch movies in the afternoon while he took his tests, but he got in on part of the party. Always balancing as we dance...

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Kelly!

The day I could finally accept the "you're brave" comments and think, "Yes, dammit, I am," instead of "I didn't choose this," was the day I found my diabetes self-care motivation.

The ultimate definition of bravery is doing something when you're scared and despite the fact you're scared. Otherwise, what's brave about it?!

Meri said...

I always get the comment that my boys are "so responsible" and "grown up."

They are kids...doing what they have to do so they can be safe at recess.

Yes...Diabetes forces them to responsible and grown up...but they are little kids too. I can't imagine what goes through their brains every day. But I can get a glimps from you.

Thanks Kelly!

Penny said...

Awww, thanks for sharing Kelly. It brought tears to my eyes. You are still a brave and fearless woman.

I think of my own daughter, age 7, diagnosed almost one year ago. How she is brave, but will let me know that sometimes it takes all that she has to go through with it all. How she is courageous, but will let me know that sometimes, not so much.

I think about how I can let her know that it's OK to go through with caring for yourself and not FEEL brave and courageous, but by going through with it when you feel that way, you BECOME brave and courageous.