Saturday, April 19, 2014

Going to switch focus for a week...

I am going on a mission trip to San Francisco with a group from church.  You can follow along with us here.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Mortality Clicker

Jake, my son, just had an accident at the local trampoline place.  He has a concussion, memory loss, and loss of balance.  He is no stranger to injuries and I am fairly certain that he alone is the reason that the cast technician at our local hospital drives a Lamborghini.  He is an active kid and when he came out of the foam pit that caused him to hit his knee to his forehead (a feat that I couldn't do if my life depended on it) he wouldn't let me help him stop the bleeding until I took a picture for Facebook.  He also made sure I caught his double flip on video.  Watching him get injured and then go unconscious for a couple of minutes was not pleasant and, if the expression is true, it probably subtracted a year or two off of my life.

I woke up this morning wondering if I had ever subtracted any years off of the people around me when I was growing up.  When I took a swan dive off the roof and tried to cushion the blow, ineffectively, with my left arm, I am fairly certain that I didn't subtract any years from my mom's life since she wasn't there to see it.  When I got up and waved at her from a thirty degree angle in the middle of my forearm, that may have subtracted a week or two, though.  As an aside, I am hoping that I did, however, subtract some time from my "friends" who had filled my backyard until I started my freefall.  By the time I hit the dirt my yard was completely empty.  I count that as a turning point in my friend choosing abilities.  Not sure what ever became of those guys...hope they had their affairs in order.

As I ran through my childhood I was fairly certain my year-subtracting activities were kept to a dull roar...until I remembered the pool.

Mike was a great friend.  We were constantly at each other's house.  I would ride the four miles to his house on my one speed squeaky bike, I would spend the night at his house, and in the morning we would ride back together to my house.  I'm sure, over the years, there must have been a couple dozen times that one of the four parents wondered where we were and then just figured that we were at the other's house.  There were plenty of things to do.  We had vacant lots near us...they had a fort.  We could walk to the stores near our house...we explored the school playgrounds near his.  And then his family built a pool...and my family said, "Where's Jeff?"  

It was one of those half-in half-out nearly buried pools...if my memory is correct.  Not the biggest pool I'd ever been in, (remind me to tell you sometime about our friend whose father invented the Lincoln Arc Welder...their pool belonged in a movie) but it was great.  We would try to make whirlpools by walking around the outer edge.  We would race from one end to the other.  And. for today's story...we would have contests to see who could hold their breath the longest.  

Allow me an ADHD moment please.  I have the lung capacity of an olympic swimmer who also sings opera on the side.  In college biology they tested it and the instructor thought the machine was broken.  In an acting class (I know, I know, but I had general requirements to get through) the teacher had the class collectively hold a note for as long as they could. Everybody else... "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.a.........." gasp gasp gasp
The instructor finally told me to stop.  I'm not sure which came first, the lung capacity or the holding breath contests...but they both happened.

One day Mike and I were swimming in his pool and there were no other people around.  Fairly surprising since he had three brothers.  We were just splashing around.  There weren't enough of us to make a decent whirlpool so we started swimming back and forth under water.  Then back and forth and back again...under water.  Then Mike had to pee.  He jumped out of the pool, dried off, and ran inside.  Swimming by myself was never as much fun as with someone so I just hung out at the edge.  Then I thought.  "I can practice holding my breath."  I took a huge breath and slipped below the surface.  This was well before the days when people were told not to swim alone.  Nowadays if your child was anywhere near a puddle without floaties and board-certified lifeguard, alone, you would be getting a visit from the police department.  It was a simpler time.  

Enter Jean...Mike's mom.  The victim in this tale.  She was inside baking and listening to the radio.  This particular year had been tough by the water.  There were two kids who had drowned fairly close together and the news was reminding everyone to be diligent when watching the kids by the pool.  She came out to check on the boys...who were being suspiciously quiet.  She came to the edge and looked in to see me, lying on the bottom, spread eagle, motionless (to conserve air) and this is when her mortality clicker starting spinning backwards.  

I, of course, was unaware of any of this and was serenely enjoying the solitude and quiet of a still pool.  The first sign that there was any problem was when I felt something grab my head.  I was surprised, of course, and tried to get away.  

On the surface Jean was trying to bring me up so she could get some oxygen into my lungs...but I slipped out of her hands.  So she tried again.

Under the water I was being mauled by something and I couldn't figure out what was going on.  I pushed away from the edge as hard as I could and stood up so I was out of the water about chest high.  I saw a panicked Jean grabbing for me, in tears, and she hugged me for a long time sobbing.  She wasn't even concerned that I was soaking her apron with the tiny little pale flowers.  

I was clueless and then she told me that the news had just reminded people about those two kids so she wanted to check on us and there I was at the bottom.  It was then that she noticed the line on my cheek.  In her effort to grab me, and my effort to get away, she had given me a scratch from my right ear all the way to my nose.  It was bright red and it hurt like the dickens but right away I knew I got the better end of this exchange.  

Sorry Jean.