Mar. 28, 2017

Toni

Besides being a nurse, I have always wanted to be a writer. At one point, I considered writing a series of children’s books. Especially once I became a nurse I thought I could write about different childhood illnesses using animal pals as the characters.

One evening while leaving our friend’s home, Toni and John, I told my husband, “If I ever write the children’s series, Toni is going to be the star of one of the books.”

“How will you cast her,” he asked as we drove home.

“A squirrel,” I answered. “She’s definitely a squirrel.”

“But what illness is she going to have?”

I thought about that for a minute. It would be hard to pin an illness on Toni because she would be a squirrel and squirrels are always so busy, much like Toni. I finally decided and answered, “Asthma or some type of COPD.”

My husband, not really knowing what COPD was but knew what asthma was, agreed that would be a good one. There are plenty of children born with asthma and Toni, also a nurse, would make a fine character for that disorder.

“Plus she smokes,” I added. “I could write the long term effects of smoking so maybe children would learn early not to smoke.”

He agreed. “Why a squirrel though?”

“Because Toni is always busy; she’s is always running around. Lord love a duck, I need a nap just watching her! Plus, she’s small framed, tiny, and lovable, just like a squirrel.”

To better explain my friend: In the first 30 minutes of our visit, Toni had put leftover dinner away, done the dishes, swept the kitchen, pulled the vacuum cleaner out to vacuum the living room (although she hadn’t vacuumed yet), and then started a load of clothes. After she gave strict orders to her two sons to take their baths, she took everything out of the kitchen cabinets and started cleaning the cupboards.

“Are we interrupting?” I asked as she scurried about.

“No, not at all,” she denied. “I do this all the time. I make dinner when I get home from the hospital then I start cleaning. It’s the only time I have to clean.”

“Yeah, but who does that,” I say waving my hands to the cabinets.

At this point, Toni is on her knees on top of the counter scrubbing the first cabinet. “Does what; clean the cabinets? Don’t you?”

“Hell, no! He’s lucky to get dinner on a clean plate,” I answer honestly. I have never been a housekeeper type person. All of my friends know this about me.

Toni laughs. “I have to have a clean house.”

“I like a clean house too but I’m more of an Erma Bombeck cleaner. You know, throw dishes in the oven when company comes over, leave my vacuum cleaner out so they think I was getting ready to do the floors, and I always keep a load of clean laundry close by and pretend to just be folding clothes when they pulled up.”

I finally convince Toni to sit down and smoke a cigarette with me. She gets a cup of coffee and sits at the table. After lighting a cigarette, she dusts the table off (she’s already wiped it down when she did the dishes). Two to three puffs later, she zooms off to check on the boys, put some fabric softener in the wash, and picked up a few toys and tossed them into the boy’s room. “I’ll clean their room later before I go to bed,” she declares returning to the table.

I just shake my head and laugh when I think about her over zestful desire to clean house. Toni may not stuff her cheeks with nuts and store food for the winter, but yes, Toni is definitely a squirrel. If I ever write those books, I’ll make sure everyone will be able to eat off Toni’s treetop floors.