Monday, October 5, 2009


I have begun my fourth week as an invalid. It was my birthday three Sundays ago. I was upset - not about the birthday, but some difference of opinion I had with Christine. I admit it. I cannot now recall the nature of the disagreement. That’s usually the way it goes with events like this. The cause remains obscure for all time and the consequences are born, like forever.

It was supposed to go like this. Nana and Papa were taking the grandchildren for an afternoon escapade at White Rock beach and a stop at Andy’s ice cream parlor. Later we would meet at Jeff’s and Gina’s for my birthday family dinner at 6 pm. Nana (that’s Christine) was car seating all of our grandchildren into Tim’s and Cari’s van. Papa (that’s me) was upstairs in my studio. In a dumb man’s hurry I catapulted down our double flight of stairs, intending to make an immediate left turn down the hall and through the kitchen and laundry room and out the rear door to catch Christine before she left. Yep, I had been mad enough to say, “I’m not going.” Now I had suddenly changed my mind which is a stupid man’s prerogative. I feel at the moment as though I am attending a Dolt’s Anonymous meeting. “Hi, my name is Ron and I am a dolt.”

I customarily handle my physical weight quite well thank you. Never mind that I am forty pounds heavier than when Christine married me. I am confident about the strength of my legs. Can you hear me singing “I am invincible?” I powered my body from the third carpeted step to plant my right sandal foot on the hard wood and push off in one impressive and speedy move. All of my weight came down on that right foot which in the instant it impacted the hard wood floor, it folded first over to the right and then the left, noisily snapping bone from ligaments all around the ankle.

In that moment, I crumpled in a shrieking heap like some soldier stepping on an explosive device. I called in terror, “Christine, I need you!” I didn’t care about the irony of the admission just then. The pain was excessive, intensified by a rapid terrifying glance at my ankle which was now unrecognizable for its swollen size. We quickly put ice to the leg and Christine took the children to the beach. And with some crutches which hang in our garage as reminders of previous family mishaps, I attended my birthday dinner with my leg up.

I have missed three weeks of Indian summer weather when I could have been prowling the country roads with my MX5 convertible. Finally setting the crutches aside I have hobbled around the house and up and down the same set of stairs where grief visited me. My doctors have said “this could take months.” I returned to church yesterday for the first time and had at least three people familiar with soft tissue damage, tell me, “you would have been better off breaking the ankle. As it is you will never have the same range of motion you once had and you will develop arthritis.” Now I feel better.

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