Column: The gift of life and love

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Commentary by Alicia Woodward

My husband took me on our first date when I was 16, and I swooned. No, really, I fainted. I guess Mike thought it would be romantic to donate blood together, so after school we went to a church blood drive. I only remember his dreamy blue eyes staring down at me and a Bloodmobile volunteer frantically waving a Dixie Cup of orange juice and a Duplex Cream in my face. I let Romeo think it was he who made me weak in the knees, but I knew it was the sight of blood.

Several incidents have since sent this delicate flower to the floor. Becoming a mother and teacher lessened my sensitivity to bodily fluids, but I was very worried about being my dad’s primary caregiver when he had cancer.

As a dentist, my father didn’t bat an eye at the needles, ports, tubes and plastic bags of medicine and blood. The first time he saw my face drain of color, he said with a wink, “Toughen up, Buttercup.” And so I did. I came to view those pouches of deep red blood and golden platelets as the beautiful gift they were.

Like a wilted plant after a thorough watering, Dad would revive after a transfusion. Countless times I said a silent prayer of gratitude and goodwill for the person who donated the blood that flowed through my father’s body, filling him with life and hope. It mattered not if the donor was man, woman, Christian, Muslim, white, black, Republican or Democrat. I often wondered if Dad ever received my husband’s blood or platelets as Mike has been a regular donor throughout his life.

My father has been gone from this world nearly two years, and I hadn’t made good on my intention to give what so many gave him. I recently read in Current that our area was dangerously low on all types of blood. I made an appointment to give blood for the first time since I was 16.

With my husband by my side, I didn’t faint, but he still makes me swoon.

To find out more about donating blood, visit Indianablood.org.

Alicia Woodward lives in Carmel and is co-author of “Lessons in Loveliness” and a lifestyle blog at lessonsinloveliness.com, Facebook, and Instagram. Email her at lessonsinloveliness@gmail.com.

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