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.