Do not wet

This Sunglow heating pad came to British Columbia with my Grandmother in 1995. The pad itself was purchased in Ontario from George W. Endress Co. Ltd. probably in the 1940s. Touching it, I imagine all the ways it provided relief to my ancestors.

I am transfixed by the stain–such a transient trace of life. Was it soup? Body fluids? Was someone annoyed when it happened?

I never talked about menstruation with my Grandma. But I have many times with my Mum and we share similar patterns. So, I think it’s safe to assume Grandma used this to soothe her menstrual cramps.

I have a thing for Bakelite switches. On this one I especially appreciate how the raised dots correspond with the Low, Medium and High settings. No need to turn on the light!

Along with a heating pad, a cup of black tea with a dash of rum was the traditional cramp cure passed down in my family. Maybe the stain is tea?

The plastic on the cord has cracked and exposed the wire.

My Grandpa might have used it too, to warm the WWI shrapnel under his skin in winter. I know from the stainless steal pins in my own hip (cycling accident) how metal can draw in the cold.

As a technical writer, I really appreciate the simplicity of DO NOT WET. It doesn’t make any assumptions like telling you not to wash it, or not to submerse it… it’s to the point. And yeah, that stain.

Amazingly, the cover still smells like Grandma’s talcum power. Inhale and I am eight again. Dim evening light filling her bedroom with calm while downstairs is loud with after dinner adults…

…A smell from when I still thought everything stays the same. That her room would always be there to explore after dinner.

Did this flower pattern swim before the eyes of my Mum or her sister when they were sick?

I’m going to cut the Bakelite switch off the cord and keep it. It will make a good fidget. Click click clicking it will continue to provide a kind of relief–playing with fidgets helps me stay present in remote meetings for some reason.

I’m going to add the cover to my cloth collection. Someday I’ll use the collection to commission a memory quilt. The rest of its parts are bound for the landfill.

If this video does not display in Firefox, it should in Chrome. No patience for trouble shooting today!

2 responses to “Do not wet”

  1. I love your writing and stories. Prompts deeper reflection on the subject of memorabilia.

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