The sounds and lights of the ambulance and hospital were frightening. My mother and grandmother were crying. Doctors and nurses were speaking in whispers. Waves of pain began to cease as the medication began to take effect on my nine year old body.
I had just been hit by a car. It was my own fault. My two cousins and I were returning from the store and I tried to cross the street. I didn’t look both ways beforehand, and ran out in front of a car. The poor driver had no chance to stop. My cousins had tried to grab me, but I was too quick. Now I was lying in the hospital with a broken thigh bone and minor internal injuries.
My dad was an interstate truck driver, and the family had to try and contact him. This was 1969, and there were no cell phones to make communication easier.
That afternoon I was wheeled into surgery. They reset the bone, placed two pins in my leg, and put me in traction. My leg was totally covered in a cast and bandages. I drifted in and out of consciousness.
The next morning, I woke up and my dad was there. He told me that he brought someone who missed me and wanted to see me. Then he handed me my beloved Mrs. Beasley doll. This doll became famous around 1967 because of the hit TV show, Family Affair. Mrs. Beasley looked different, however. Although her glasses were long ago lost, she still had the same smile and blonde hair. Her blue and white polka dot clothes looked the same, but there was one difference. Her right leg was wrapped from top to bottom in white medical tape. My dad made sure she had something in common with me!
Mrs. Beasley made that first night much better. In those days, parents were not allowed to stay overnight at the hospital. My mother was there every day, for as long as she could be. She also had to care for my younger brother. My dad was there when he was able to, due to his work schedule. My doll became good company.
In the pediatric ward many rooms, like mine, were dormitory style. Four patients shared a room. A lot of the other children were in for tonsillectomies and appendectomies. After I had been there about a week, a little girl named Alice was moved into the bed next to mine. She was scheduled for a tonsillectomy the next morning. As night fell, her parents left and she was alone. You could tell she was scared. My parents were getting ready to leave, and my dad asked me if I thought Mrs. Beasley could sleep with Alice that night. It might make her feel better. I was a little apprehensive, as the doll was very important to me, but I offered her to Alice. The little girl nodded, with big, tear-filled eyes. She snuggled down for the night, with my dear friend in her arms and went to sleep.
The next morning, before she was wheeled to surgery, she returned the doll, with a sleepy “Thank you”. After that, when a new child would come into our room, I always offered Mrs. Beasley for a first night sleepover friend. Her painted on smile gave many children over the course of that month, a measure of comfort and love.
Each time I shared my stuffed friend, it helped reinforce character traits in me, of empathy and compassion. It taught me put myself in others’ shoes, to imagine how they might feel and put others‘ needs before my own. I am blessed to carry those traits in me, today. I will forever be grateful for the lessons that I learned from my dad and Mrs. Beasley.