Monday, August 22, 2005

Do peahens sneeze?

Little sister's name is Janis, Jani, or Minnie. Driving us out of Austria over Brenner Pass into Italy she complained of fever and chills. I felt her forehead. She was burning up. At a rest stop where everyone stood for a cup of coffee, we asked for help, but couldn't make ourselves understood - we don't speak Italian.

At Trento an English speaking man directed us to a hospital, but it was an orthopedic. At 4 o'clock an ambulance transported her to the general hospital. I rode along worried about her and how we'd get back to our car.

X-rays revealed nothing. They frowned and shook their heads. Maybe it was the "fern," something to do with wind and altitude. At five they dismissed her with a prescription for penicillin, and orders to drink lots of water.

She wasn't in walking shape. We poked along. Not a straight line from the hospital to the car, we searched, stopped often so she could rest, and found it right were we'd left it, unlocked, but with nothing missing. Thank God.

Checking into a small hotel at Verona, I understood dinner was at seven. Jani went to bed. At seven I went to the dining room. No one was there. I wouldn't get veal parmesan and tiramisu tonight. Maybe the help went to dinner at seven. Oh, I wished I spoke Italian.

In our room we ate our leftover lunch of croissant sandwiches and an apple, and watched an old black and white Gregory Peck movie dubbed in Italian. A game show followed awarding mops and asparagus. With her eyes closed and her voice weak, Minnie said, "I hear it's pretty in Iowa this time of year." She gets homesick; I could gone on and on.

While the "big boots of penicillin" stomped out her fever, I prayed. I didn't want her to die here or anywhere, even if she is a pissant at times. Feeling guilty, I left to procure chicken soup.

After updating our travel diary, I washed socks and hung them on our portable line like the catch-of-the-day. Yes, they were keepers. I have a problem with socks. They disappear between the foot of the bed and the washing machine, in it, and else where. I suspect I'm a "sock-seeder." Is there a support group? JB says I should number them. Right, would #5 come when I call?

The second day her fever broke. She felt well enough to sit in the yard under the grape arbor, sip chicken soup, and watch the peacocks strut and fan their gorgeous tail feathers with the brilliant turquoise and blue iridescent eyes on the ends. Their dull brown peahen mates rolled on the ground to take a dust bath. Minnie asked, "Do peahens sneeze?"

Unusual questions run in the family. Minnie's four-year old son, Andy, asked his nine-year old brother, Sean, what the big truck was. Sean looked at the Mayflower Moving Van and replied, "That's who Columbus called when he wanted to move to America." They come by it honestly.

Day three Minnie got out of bed and showered. "How do you feel?"
"Good enough to sit in the back seat and kick the front."
"Time to go, pissant."

We still don't know if peahens sneeze.

copyright 2005 Red Convertible Travel Series

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