It’s a silly question of course, but somehow throughout the history of man the idea of a curse came about, and ever since the there have been people who believed in them. Something happened recently that brought that idea into my head, and it’s time to talk about it.
Ever since I was a kid I’ve done things that would be considered dangerous. You guys know the motorcycle side of me, but I’ve climbed trees in the rain, jumped off of roofs, and other things much less glamorous. Anyway, it didn’t start with me I’m sure, probably my dad, but I would have been too young to remember. At the age of 9, I’m 26 now it things started to shape up.
It was the last day of school, 1990 – only a couple months after my parents divorce. I had just passed the 4th grade, and my dad was picking me up for summer vacation. As part of the settlement he had custody of us for half the summer. We lived in Nacogdoches, Texas, my mom, brother, and I. And Dad came from my birthplace about 45 miles away. He was a little late, so Aaron (my brother) and I jumped in the truck and learned where we were going. Dad was doing a big kitchen remodelling down in Houston and we’d spend the next week there helping him tear out the cabinets and putting in the new ones he had already built in his shop. The trip was about 120 miles, and in those time the national speed limit was still 55mpn. It wasn’t a long trip, and since it was summer we got there with daylight left. First was to the house or jobsite to check in and unload the trailer. The next day would be work.
Since there was time for a round of golf he threw the clubs in the back of the truck and took us with him. Dad managed to find a game with some Houston locals, and we rented a cart to keep up. That was a little abnormal as we usually walked, all 3 of us, when he took us to the golf course, which was often. Anyway, about the 6th hole he was pulling up to his ball, and I being a rowdy kid was hanging on the back where the second golf club bag would normally be. I jumped off after he stopped, but evidently he had parked too close to the ball and decided to back up… over me. I don’t remember if he drove over my leg once or twice (to pull forward again) due to the panic that ensued, but my shorts were ripped, and my leg hurt.
He asked if I could stand, and I couldn’t. My dad is a frugal guy and often more selfish than is healthy; he wanted to continue the golf game. After a few minutes of my complaining it soaked in that we wouldn’t be able to finish and he took us back to the car. That night we stayed at my aunt’s house, his half sister, and they made me as comfortable as possible with pillows and Tylenol. In the morning the pain hadn’t gone yet, but it was time for work. I was carried to the truck, and we headed to the job site. As it turned out the man for whom my father was working was a doctor in a nearby hospital. He insisted we have x-rays and even offered to have the fee waived if my dad would just take me. So we went and the results were as predicted. I had broken my femur a couple of inches above the knee. It was a bad place for a break because of the nearby growth plate. If I didn’t have proper medical attention that leg might be stunted for growth.
Well, cast and all I waited the next few days till the job was finished. Afterward we went home, but I wouldn’t be staying there. The middle of a National Forrest was no place for a 9 year old child to be on crutches. I’d be stuck inside all day. So instead of spending the summer with my dad as planned, my grandparents picked us up so we could spend the time with them. I still remember the trip: my foot extended straight on the back seat; Aaron between my grandmother and grandfather in the front seat (one of those monstrous Oldsmobiles with room for 6 people and more).
On that ride, which due partially to the distance and speed limit took much longer than it does today came a rain which can only be described as a turd floater or frog strangler. Now, my grandfather was a competent driver, steady and smooth, but he had lost vision in his right eye while spending time malnourished in a prison camp during WWII, and his other wasn’t top notch either. The rain was so bad that cars were pulling off on both sides of the interstate highway and hoping not to be rear ended by those idiots still moving down the road. The kind of rain that motorcyclists love, danger to the extreme. Well we finally did make it which was the beginning of a summer with my grandparents: my one and only.
My mom was a student at the time and had the summers off. She had signed on as a camp counselor at a camp for Boys and Girls Club. She’d be the lifeguard at the pool or lake depending on what the day called for. As part of her job she bargained for Aaron and I to be able to come and stay for free during the weeks. This was of course the plan for after we had spent our half the summer with my dad. That all changed. I was in Dallas with my grandparents, and Aaron, 7 at the time, was not going to be with my dad who was currently in bad standing all around went to the summer camp alone.
Some good things did come out of that time though. I spent the next six weeks getting very close to my grandmother, and till this day I feel closer to her than most all of my family. She’s the only grandparent I have left really, and I call her frequently just to talk. Besides the time we spent together and all the times I got to see my aunts, uncles, and cousins that lived in Dallas too something else really special happened. My grandfather had recently retired and so we were more people in that house than had been during the day for many years. I think they weren’t used to me or any child being around for that long and so they bought me a Nintendo Entertainment System.
This was big! My brother was the one playing at the lake with other kids every day while I had to sit at home with my elderly grandparents, but he was jealous of me. On Saturday afternoons Mom and Aaron would come to stay with us and I’d have someone to compete against in our new found form of entertainment. Grandma got better over the time I spent there, but I played so much she never really had a chance.
During that time we did see a specialist, and I would be ok with no full body cast as the doctor initially recommended. After those first 6 weeks he cut off the green fiberglass which was an immense pleasure to me. My leg from hip down had been itching for a long time and my heel was bothering me from the pressure of the cast. I was too week to walk, but the doctor wanted me to begin putting weight on it and less on the crutches, which by the way I had gotten so good at that I could run circles around my grandmother and beat anyone up the stairs who dared challenge me. Well, the replacement splint didn’t stay on much, and in just a couple more weeks I was back to my old self running and jumping.
Thanks very much to pressure from my mom the next time we saw that doctor I walked into his office and with full flexibility. Kids sure do bounce back quick. The doc was so surprised that he cancelled the next visit and told me to go spend the last two weeks of summer with my mom and brother as summer camp. So reluctantly leaving the NES in Dallas I finally did get to swim in the lake, and there are still campfire stories and memories that stick with me to this day.
Now, this story with a sad beginning and happy ending seems like just another story from one’s childhood, but it turns into a full blown curse as we will soon see.