It was hard to breath. I was so cold. The nurses sponged my arms and legs with ice water to bring the fever down. My flesh hurt all the way to the bone. Their smiles and tenderness made it easier to cope.
When my fever broke the head nurse brought me a gift. A pad of paper and a kid set of watercolors. What a treat. I didn’t have anything like this. I had crayons, pencils and stray sheets of paper. My own paper pad and real paints, I forgot all about the needles and hospital smells.
My first painting with these watercolors was a puppy. A warm brown puppy with floppy ears and a wet nose. The puppy sat beneath a bouquet of pink, red and orange roses. The painted strokes were not translucent showing the brilliance of watercolor, but rather thick opaque pudding globs like tempera school paints.
Didn’t matter to me. I painted a puppy.
I gave this painting to the nurse who gave me the paints and paper. Then I painted another puppy beneath roses. Again and again. I gave versions of the same puppy and roses to all the nurses until my paint set was used up.