Wednesday, January 23, 2008
The Good Old Days
I've gotten a population of older patients lately - that's way the home care is, you'll have a wave of children, then teens, etc - that will end and you'll end up with another group. The older people mostly come from generations that have lived here since the turn of the century or even before. When I wander the graveyards I've been here long enough I've started recognizing families, some dating from the late 1700's. I was sitting with a patient and she asked how many children I had - I replied two and she told me she'd had nine. I was impressed I told her, I couldn't imagine having more than two. She patted my knee and sat foward and said "I didn't have any choice, they wouldn't give you anything in those days to keep you from having babies, you just had to have them". I've had patients tell me of horrific injuries that were treated in the kitchen because there either was no doctor or if there was, there was no money. The Company Store we sang about in chorus is the real deal here - I've had patients or patients whose parents were born in mining camps and they would rather die than sing about that. Ever. They have documentaries on the local PBS about the mining and did you know when the miners rose up against the bosses they were turned out - remember the company provided everything including the houses. They lived in tents over the winter and a large number died - and it really wasn't that long ago. The mining houses still stand over in Cassville, they're mean little cracker boxes that lean out over the road in some places. It's funny how you always think of 'years ago"as so romantic and happy and it really wasn't all that. It wasn't all bad of course, very few things are, but it was much harder than you think it was. That patient really made me start looking at things from another point of view, she wasn't complaining and she certainly loved all of her children, but I guess I never thought that people had large families just because they had no choice, not because they intended to.