St. Patrick’s Day.

St. Patrick’s Day
Today is St. Patrick’s Day. It immediately brings to mind lots of beautiful memories. The parade in New York City, with people,of any race dressed up for the occasion; green bagels, green carnations and green beer. Lots of fun and good cheer. This year we happen to be in Vienna, where everything around seems to be about Mozart, Johann Strauss and Empress Sisi. It’s +19 C, very sunny and very beautiful. No sign of anything connected with the Irish holiday.
A number of years ago I lived in a place where the end of March was still winter, that awful time when the snow starts melting during the day and still freezes over at night, so that getting out and moving around is quite a problem. I got out for some fresh air, slipped and fell. At the last moment managing to somehow regroup so as not to fall on my belly – I was eight months gone in my pregnancy. And I was taken straight to the maternity ward, where I had to endure for some days since the doctors deemed it too soon for me to give birth and I didn’t go straight into labor anyway. My knee hurt abominably, I missed my family, and I had to listen to the incessant chatter of my roommates. Gradually I came to my senses, enough to notice that I was the only one who was not there with her first baby. I was also the tallest and the thinnest. All those young women were close to a hundred kilos in weight, over 200 lbs, all scheduled for C-section eventually. All of them were school and hospital cooks. Lord, the talks!
At first they more or less ignored me since I must have looked as alien to them as they did to me. Then when my husband came to wave at me from outside (relatives were not allowed into the ward) they realized I couldn’t very well hop to the window on one leg. We were on the fourth floor. In a flurry of rather clumsy activity they managed to help me stand and carried me to the window, so I could look down and wave feebly. When I was back in my bed, the questions came. He is so thin! Why are all of us so thin? Don’t we eat enough? What’s my profession? A university teacher? But do you have a chance to eat well during your working day? I explained about lecturing and seminars, and told them good-naturedly that it is not customary for professors to munch on something while conducting a lesson. They exclaimed and waved their hands in the air. Lord! How did I manage the whole day?! Frankly I never thought about my job in this light.
Their colleagues the hospital cooks brought us dinner every day. They were obviously informed about me, and they gave me some choice morsels regularly. The overweight patients asked me about the whole delivery process, the pains and the fears. I told them bedtime stories, drawing on my vast knowledge of world literature. Imagine half a dozen very pregnant rather fat young future mothers listening spellbound to ancient myths and legends, to “The Three Musketeers” and to action thrillers. This educational activity helped me while away a week. Then the doctors told me it was now safe to go on, though my leg still hurt and I understood perfectly well the “pleasures” of having a baby with only one leg fully functioning. But hey, Nature knows what she is doing. My beautiful baby was born a little ahead of schedule, perfect in all respects. My former roommates all wobbled along to express their admiration, and the cooks brought me an extra nice meal in-between set meal hours. I limped home next day, exhausted but happy.
St. Patrick’s Day brings back those memories every year. I smile remembering those women, all of whom became mothers same year and month. I click all over to see how the day is celebrated around the world. Hmm, come to think of it, maybe St. Patrick is the reason why our youngest kid’s favorite color is green.

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