It’s weird how things seem to reoccur in families a generation later. We repeat the same mistakes of our parents or we inherit habits, ticks and physical traits not apparent until we get older. I didn’t think of it until I wrote about the memory but my son Ian had with the same type of lump on his neck my brother John was born with. Ian also had an accident strangely similar to something that happened to my brother Joe when we lived in North East.
I have to admit I was not always the most reliant babysitter as a dad. I let my boys play and have a good time. I was too dense to anticipate the potential injurious consequences that would inevitably occur. While I lay on the bed with baby Nick nestled in a pillow next to me, I watched as Jude and Ian laughed and bounced up and down on the mattress while they held onto the tall bedposts at the bottom of the bed. Ian went down while Jude was in mid-air. Jude landed hard on Ian. Ian cried and wanted to go lay down right away. He stayed in his room for another hour until my wife Cathy got home. She found Ian in his bed, holding his now swollen arm. It was broken.
Two weeks before, Ian had to get stitches on the bridge of his nose for another incident on my watch. I’ll get into that in a second. Concerned there would be suspicions of child abuse or at least negligence, I was convinced we better be safe and not take him to the same hospital he went to for the stitches. Cathy agreed, thinking it definitely was child abuse the way I babysat the kids. I thought it was simply a matter of bad luck. Two weeks earlier, with Nick safely asleep in his room, I watched TV from the big chair in the living room as the boys laid out the cushions of the couches across the floor. They took turns vaulting off the far couch and leapfrogged across the cushions. Ian’s momentum carried him past the last cushion, slamming him into our (what was huge then) and very heavy 32” TV —that promptly crushed him when it toppled over on him. Did you ever see a Roadrunner cartoon where Wiley Coyote is crushed by a boulder? All you saw was his splayed legs and paws sticking out. Uh, huh…lots of blood and six stitches.
We did the same thing when I was a kid. Something exciting or unexpected seemed to happen on a regular basis when we lived on Mechanics Valley Road. This time it happened on a bright summer morning. We were messing around, nothing out of the ordinary, just entertaining ourselves in the family room. We too lined cushions from one end of the room to the other. We bounded from the couch and pogoed across numerous times. And if we fell, we landed safely on one of the cushions. Except for the one time.
My brother Joe kept going and smashed through the glass door. When he pulled himself free there was a huge jagged shard of glass embedded in his left arm. He stood there in shock looking at the horrible sight before he pulled out the hunk of glass. When he did, blood shot a foot into the air as it pumped out of his severed artery. There was blood everywhere! I never saw so much of it. We didn’t know what to do; it was pretty frightening. My mom was upstairs in the tub at the time, and heard us screaming. She ran down the steps to see what happened and was horrified when she saw Joe and pulled off her towel and wrapped it around his arm. She stood naked in the kitchen, crying as she called for an ambulance.
Joe would have been dead before it got there if it wasn’t for our next-door neighbor. My mom spotted him in his yard as we waited for the ambulance and called frantically for his help. Fortunately he knew exactly what to do and took off his belt and tied a tourniquet above Joe’s elbow. He saved my brother’s life.
Joe got twenty-some stitches and was left with a ghastly scar.