"I got life, mother
I got laughs, sister
I got freedom, brother
. . . got my blood"
I'm not sure what age I was in this first memory of my parents donating blood. I remember Dad parked the family car in front of our small hometown's community hall. He and Mother probably gave my brother and I warnings about good behavior in their absence. And in they went--a mysterious event where children weren't allowed. My interest was piqued.
After that, I remember years of eavesdropping on Mom and Dad's post donation conversations: how many gallons they had donated, blood from their ear instead of their finger, who they met. All fascinating to this youngster, as well as believing it was something I would do later in life.
Years passed, I achieved adulthood and eventually I found myself with a husband, two children, living in Roseburg, Oregon, with a sweet neighbor and walking partner. During one of the daily walks with my neighbor, both of us discovered that we'd grown up thinking we'd become regular blood donators like our parents, but had never stumbled across an opportunity. We made a plan and began donating together.
More years passed, and our family landed in Salem, Oregon. One evening, I learned husband Norm had begun to donate blood regularly. I'll admit it, I was a bit giddy over the possibility of donating together. Repeating my parent's co-tradition was something I hadn't even imagined. I have no idea how many years we've been meeting up downtown after work for our "blood dates". I'd like to think we've inspired others to do the same. It's a tradition worth repeating.
P. S. I'd be remiss if I omitted the following, though it veers slightly from my story above: In 2001, I was taken to the hospital with a stomach bleed. I ended up losing a significant amount of blood and found myself on the receiving end of two pints of life. Coincidentally, I had been pondering what my tattoo would look like--something I had decided to do on my 50th birthday. After my event, I was inspired. And with my eldest daughter's help, my tattoo's design was created: "Donate Life", with a heart held in open hands. The most amazing part? The tattoo artist's father had been the recipient of a double organ transplant the year before.
From my Dad, in reply to my question as to how he and mother began donating blood:
That's kind of a tough question.
Kind of a patriotic thing to do,
help somebody and you don't care who.
Not much effort and mostly painless too.
You got cookies and juice when you were through.
It just got to be a habit after a year or two.
Mom was proud of her record and I was too.
I hadn't had a virus that ninety percent do,,
so my blood was saved for babies that arrived Before they were due.
~KWJ August 2015