Halloween was always an exciting time of year for me and my family.
Growing up in Massachusetts, this state is one small part of repetitious glorious autumns. Cooler temperatures and windy weather invite all tree leaves to shed from their boughs and branches. Shaded and vivid colors of yellow from the oak trees, red from the maple trees with splotches of purple and varying shades of the primary color palette take over the living earth at this place, my New England, every year.
There is a certain passion among the colors as they fly through the air, placing themselves on every street and territory disguised as leaves. A majestic arrogance. So much so that tourists continually arrive year after year to see the spectacular foliage that peaks in mid-October while enjoying New England hospitality. The joy of this seasonal change is exaggerated with the celebration of Halloween. Anxious excitement and creative preparations with decorations are seen everywhere. This is a happy celebration that marks the end of summer, the harvest of deliciousness, the beginning of winter, and to respectfully commemorate the passing of the dead. This is when the past is recognized as such, never forgotten.
As I am one of five siblings, preparations for the Halloween Event were the most fun for our trick-or-treating. Our mother was greatly creative, encouraging, and patient with this endeavor. All of us were allowd to go through her things – all her things including drawers, clothes closets, jewelry, hats, make-up, and anything else we kids could find – in order to ‘dress up’ and purposefully disguise ourselves. Oh, there were limits of course, but just being allowed to rummage through her things was magnificent in itself!
Imagine a family of four or five children (Judy wasn’t old enough yet), costumed to the nines, knocking on your door with empty sacks and bags (pillowcases were the best) outstretched toward you and hollering “trick or treat!” It was hilarious! Because of mothers’ encouragement, I still look forward to this “holiday” every year. But now I am on the other side of the door, serving the tricks and treats.
The best cosutme I recall was my brother, Charles, being a mummy. He got the idea from the infamous 1960’s movie entitled “The Mummy.” He gathered all the ace bandages he could muster. Mom kept them for her sore, tired legs. Imagine a 10-year old boy wrapped in ace bandages from head to foot. It was marvelous and the funniest thing I ever did see! Toward the end of this particular trick-or-treating event, his bandages started coming off, actually making him look more eerie. I remember laughing and laughing, trying to help him tuck one end of a bandage in to where it had loosened, only to have another one pop out. It was hilarious! I fell on the ground laughing with tears streaming down my cheeks. He was upset. I could tell he was getting frustrated. The only thing he wore under all the Ace bandages was a pair of BVDs. Tired and cold with the prospect of school homework looming, I had to get him home.
Once inside our house, he ripped those things off as soon as he could, swearing he’d never do that again, and continued to enjoy his candy collection.
I wasn’t shy when it came to eating some of that stuff. On no. My siblings did not witness this sneaky cheating. Otherwise I would have been chastised to the mountains and grounded and probably banned from any further Halloween trick-or-treating participation for the rest of my life! My siblings policed me studiously!
However, my manipulations caused my older sister to walk ahead with the younger kids while I carried the rear, purposely. While dusk turned to dark, I gluttonously indulged in many a forbidden sweet. I almost hate to admit it but my favorite chocolate bars became Almond Joy and Butterfingers, the little ones, so it didn’t seem so bad. But, when I ate too many as is prone to happen with any child, I became ill. It wasn’t so much the stomach ache, but my blood sugar was on top of the moon! I could feel it.
As there were no such mechanisms as “glucometers” invented as yet, I depended on “Clinitest Tablets” used to check a urine sample for glucose content in my blood. Silly as that seems now, that is what was available back in the early days of coping with diabetes. So, through my candy binging, I didn’t need to take a urine test to know that I messed up. Bloated with extended stomach, sleepy with lethargy, I needed insulin. I took it. I knew how. I first learned how to give myself an insulin shot at the age of six. Using only the clear, “Regular” kind because it was “fast-acting,” it still took a few hours until I felt better, was better. No one in the house was any wiser or aware of my actions.
In the meantime, the “Sugar-Free Halloween Fairy” came to visit our house while we were out. My mother placed a special purchase of sugar-free goodies under a pillow or atop the bureau chiding me to see if I found anything unusually special.
Gosh, that was gloriously thoughtful. That type of heartfelt kindness is rekindled to this day, forty years later. And the “Halloween Fairy” along with the “Valentine’s Fairy,” the “Easter Bunny,” and whatever character was implicated during certain and specific times of each year was an implication that there existed diabetic characters of each holiday genre. There were some that were just plain sugar-free, like me, and they know where I lived and left me treats. Oh, Happy Happy Halloween – good treating of your friends and family!
A. K. Buckroth, “My Diabetic Soul – An Autobiography” available at mydiabeticsoul.com.