Thursday, February 16, 2006

Amazing Grace

Last night Alex and I were upstairs, playing with trains in his room. Every so often A. would come over to where I was lying on the floor, climb on my back, and jump off. Big fun for him. Big fun for me, too, because every once in a while he would hit a vertebrae just right and my back would pop, which I love. Anyway, on about the fifth go-round, Alex stood on my back, jumped, lost his balance, and fell on top of his train set. The bridge collapsed, the tracks popped apart, the trains flipped, and Alex was sprawled over it all. He was fine ("I'm OKAY, Mama! I'm okay!"), but as I re-assembled the train, I pondered what the poor boy's life is going to be like, as he has descended from a mama who is Queen of the Klutzes.

Oh, we pretend to be graceful in my family. Mama always likes to point out her degree in health and physical education (don't forget the minor in food storage), her years of teaching yoga. I took dancing for twelve years and even managed to prance around in toe shoes for six of those years. But your day-to-day activities? We fall. We run into things. We drop things. And occasionally, we break things. Like vases. And glasses. And bones.

Mama at least manages to land gracefully when she falls. Only a few weeks ago she was in my basement, slipped on something, tried to regain her balance, and then landed on the floor in a full split. You may not have realized that a 73 year-old woman could do the splits, but, as she quickly reminded me, all those years of teaching ladies' exercise at church really paid off what with keeping her limber and all.

About a year and a half ago, Mama took a tumble down our stairs. It was terrifying, to say the least. We couldn't tell at first if she was really hurt or in shock - because she wasn't saying much. My aunt Chox and cousin Paige were at our house at the time, and Paige kept saying, "Ouida, are you okay? Are you okay?" Finally, Mama collected her thoughts enough to say, "Oh. I. Oh. I just. I. Oh. I have. Oh. OH, I have gas!"

To which Chox replied, "Well let it out, Ouida! Let it out!"

So I'll just say that she did and leave it at that. But as it turned out she did fracture her arm. And our trip to the emergency room is definitely a blog entry in and of itself.

I admit wholeheartedly that I'm the worst of the lot. Sister and Stacy have had their share of injuries, but in general they've fared far better than I. Daddy broke his wrist when he fell off a ladder a few years ago, but that was a freak accident, not recklessness, because Daddy is never, ever reckless. It just doesn't make good sense.

My long list of injuries started early on, with a couple of falls and cuts that required stitches. When I was five, I tried to imitate a back somersault I saw on Sesame Street, got my thumb caught in a loop in the hooked rug, and promptly broke my first bone. Even now, I remember it vividly, including that the doctor set it without giving me any sort of pain medicine, a fact that makes Mama angry to this very day.

There were all sort of minor injuries after that: a sprained arm thanks to a back walk-over gone awry in gymnastics class; jammed fingers when I tried to make like Tarzan and swing on a big rope during a youth group activity (for some reason when I got out over the water, I panicked, thinking, "OH MY WORD I'M HANGING FROM A ROPE OVER WATER," let go, fell in, and landed so hard that my fingers hit the mud at about 60 miles per hour); a sprained ankle when my feet flew out from under me on some wooden stairs; a burned palm from when I took a skillet out the oven, set it down, and then tried to move it without the oven mitt; and then, one of my personal favorites, elbows skinned down to the bone and a grass-stained white eyelet dress - from when I tripped walking Sister and Barry's dog and was promptly dragged across a substantial portion of their backyard because while many ideas went through my mind, letting go of the leash did not.

The pinnacle of my clumsiness - at least I hope it's the pinnacle, as I have no desire to top it - was about five years ago when I was getting ready to leave the house on some errands. I'm still not sure exactly what happened, though in retrospect I believe that I was trying to elude a very hyper yellow lab who wanted to leave with me, but what I do remember is stepping down onto our first basement stair, losing my balance, watching my knees buckle, and then falling for what seemed like fourteen or forty-five minutes. About half-way down the stairs I catapulted from my knees to my right shoulder, and apparently the movement propelled my feet straight up in the air, for afterwards there was a long black mark on the wall above the stairs that, according to forensic evidence, perfectly matched the height of my legs and the arc of my fall. The whole way down the stairs the only thought running through my mind was "I'm going to die. I'm going to die," but when I finally hit the hard wooden landing, I thought, "Okay, I didn't die. But YEEEEOWWWW that hurts!"

At the time of my fall, David was upstairs in his office, on the phone with a client. He said that he clearly heard, "BUMP! CRASH! BUMP! BUMPDEBUMPITYBUMPBUMPBUMPBUMPITYCRASHBUMP," then "OWWWWWWW," then loud, guttural sobbing. He came running down from his office, and when he finally got to me, well, I was in shambles.

The crazy thing is that I didn't immediately go to the hospital. I didn't feel like anything was broken, and I was so upset by the whole ordeal that I just wanted to sit in David's office in the recliner and watch DVD's. That's exactly what I did. But the next day I was black and blue (and yellow and green and purple), and when I walked down to the mailbox, I thought, "Gosh, my leg, um, sort of, ow!, smarts a bit."

I called Sister later that afternoon, and when I told her about all the bruising, she said, "You might want to get to a doctor - did you ever hear of a thing called a blood clot?" Needless to say, I got on the phone, got an appointment, and discovered the next day that I had in fact broken my leg. Not a bad break - but a break nonetheless.

So as for young Alex? I'm not sure how to handle his inevitable clumsiness. I guess I could get him a padded suit or we could move to a one-story house on a nice, flat lot because really, the idea of any child with my clumsy gene being in a house on the top of a hill with not just one but two flights of stairs is just silly.

Not to mention a safety hazard. For both of us.


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