Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Don't ask me exactly how old I was because I can't tell you. I could venture a guess, and say maybe I was around 7 or 8. Let's say 7 and a half for these purposes. My brother would have been a mere fetus growing in my mother's belly.
On this particular December evening when I was probably 7 and a half, we spent a fun filled evening at my aunt and uncle's home as was the norm every year. All the family was there. My parents, my aunt and uncle (obviously since it was their house), my grandparents and cousins.
Anyway, it's not so much the party that holds the memory for me, because frankly I don't remember it. It's what happened afterward. Driving home in the truck, my mother at the wheel, my father slumped against the window, appreciating the coolness of the glass against his face and me in the middle - probably without a seatbelt because they weren't mandatory back then - warm, stale air blasting from the heater trying to erase the cold.
We pulled into the driveway, the tires crunching snow, and parked in front of the tree stump. I don't remember how long the stump was there. Did my parents remove the tree? Was it gone before we moved in? I don't remember.
I climbed out of the truck behing my mother, my father stumbled out of the passenger side.
My mother told my father to go in the house, she would plug in the truck. I watched with mild amusement as they argued over this simple task. My father insisting he could do it, my mother telling him to stop being a stupid sonofabitch and get inside. My father was stubborn. He was drunk. My mother finally tells him "fine, have it your way" and guides me into the house.
I couldn't tell you how much time passed before I went outside to see what was keeping my father. It shouldn't take too long to plug in the truck. But I went outside and there was my father on the ground. Groaning in pain, because he wasn't a cryer, and dragging himself toward the house. He must have said something to me because I recall running into the house screaming, "Daddy broke his leg, Daddy broke his leg."
He tripped over the stupid stump.
I can't even remember if my mother helped him into the house or just left him there. She could have left him there and let him suffer on his own, let him get his own stubborn self into the house. But I don't think that's what happened.
It was cold. She must have helped him into the house.
She phoned my aunt and uncle. My uncle came and picked him up and drove him to the hospital. When he got back home, he had a cast that ran from his toes to his knee.
And now every Christmas we talk and laugh about the year my father tripped over the stump and broke his leg.