Times Have Changed

I went to have my teeth cleaned and checked out yesterday.  I’ve still got a pretty good set of teeth for an old bird they said.

I love the cleaning woman.  She’s a sweetheart.  Takes her time with me and talks up a storm.

She told me told me she was going into the change….the menopause and that she was getting those hot spells.  I remember those.  Hell, I remember going through getting my first period too.

Of course, back in those days, nobody talked about things like that.  We didn’t even know what a period was until we got it.

I remember I was about 13 or 14 years old and had been out swimming in the pond out the back of our house.  My brother Buster, looked down as I got out of the water.

“You’re bleedin’, Aud….you cut yourself,” he asked.

I looked down to see watery blood, running down my leg and figured maybe, I’d gotten hit by something in the water but, I couldn’t find any cuts anywhere.

“You’d better go get Maw to clean you up,” Buster said.

I ran back to the house, hoping my mother would patch me up and I could go back and swim some more.

Maw wasn’t there.  She had gone to a neighbour’s house with a basket of eggs that she’d gathered that morning so, I went into the bedroom, took off my swimsuit and looked.  No cuts but, the bleeding kept happening and it wasn’t coming from my leg!

By the time my mother got back, my father had also come into the house for some dinner.  By this time, I had gotten dressed and was curled up in a ball, shaking on the sofa and my stomach hurt.

“What’s wrong with you, Audrey?” my mother asked.

“Nothin’,” I answered, afraid if I said anything, it would be real.

“There’s something wrong,” Maw said, coming over to me, putting her hand on my forehead  “You’re as white as a ghost.  You feelin’ ok?”

I shook my head, no and buried my face in my knees.

“What’s wrong?” my mother asked, sitting down beside me.

“Can’t tell you,” I answered, my face still buried.  “Not with Paw here.”

My father turned his back and went on sipping his coffee, pretending not to hear but, I knew he could hear me.

“Tell me what’s wrong now, or get your rear up and help me with dinner!” my mother demanded, not seeming to have time for such nonsense.

“I’m dying”, I muttered, starting to cry.

“You’re DYING?” Maw asked, pulling my face up from my knees.  “What do you mean you’re dyin’?”

My father turned his head to look over then, turned around again.

“I’m dyin’…..I’m dyin'” I kept repeating, thinking if I said it enough, Maw would get the hint.

My mother grabbed me by the hand and hauled me into the back bedroom area.  Guess she got the hint that I didn’t want to talk in front of my father.

“Now, tell me what you mean ’bout sayin’ you’re dyin'” Maw said, arms crossed, getting impatient.

I pulled down my dungarees and showed her a clean white towel I’d folded up in my pants.

“See, I’m dyin’!” I shouted, busting into tears.

My mother looked down then, smiled, shook her head and hugged me.

“You’re not dyin’,” she said, wiping my tears with her apron.  “You just became a woman!”

After helping to clean me up and giving me a piece of funny looking elastic thing and what looked like a little pillow to hook into it, she sat me down and gave me “The Talk”, where she explained all about getting periods, only she called it “That Time of The Month” and called it “My Friend”.

“So, I’m not gonna die?” I asked with glee.

“Not today,” my mother answered, getting up off of the bed.

“What’s going on?” my father asked, lighting up his pipe, having finished his coffee long ago.

“Nothin’, Frank,” my mother answered, putting a pot on the stove.  “She got her friend is all.”

My father just smiled and went back to smoking his pipe.

We never did talk about it again after that.  I knew what it was and I accepted it like every woman has to accept it coming but, I sure did hate the days that I had to sit with a hot water bottle for the stomach aches I got sometimes.

By the time I hit the menopause, my mother wasn’t around anymore.  She’d passed on before I got to that point.  There wasn’t anyone to ask about that back then and I had a male doctor so, I wasn’t too comfortable in talking about it even with him.  But, that’s another whole story.

I looked up at this poor woman, sweat dripping off of her forehead, looking red in the face and told her that she’d be ok.  It’s just part of being a woman.  We all go through it.

She smiled and went back to cleaning my teeth.

Of course, nowadays, they’ve got books and commercials on tv about this stuff so, she won’t have to worry about thinkin’ she’s “dyin'” or something.

I’m glad times have changed.


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