Monday, September 20, 2010

falling down, and up, and sideways

I fall a lot.  A LOT.  Everyone in my family knows this.  They know to watch out for me when we are out doing anything.  I think Steve's head is permanently attached backwards, ala Linda Blair in the Exorcist.  He gets in front of me on escalators going down, behind me on stairs going up, and runs circles around me when I am on level ground.  And when Steve, the kids, or the sisters are with me, they all pass off responsibility to each other so I am never left unwatched ("hey you watch mom", "Cathy I am watching you", "are you paying attention Cathy").  But it happens anyway.

The first incident in my life is one I don't remember.  Mum has told me about it many times.  It was a near miss, but set the tone for the rest of my life.  When I was just a baby, Mum said Dad was throwing me up in the air and catching me.  But he missed on the catch one time.  Almost.  Caught me inches from a cement doom.  I think that is when my falling karma started though.

My next memory is of sitting on the side of the tub in the bathroom and falling backward into the tub.  That earned me a big goose egg on the back of my head and being kept awake for hours (it might have been days) just in case I had a concussion.  What I remember most about that incident is the feel of that bump on my head, it felt weird and kind of neat.  And wanting to sleep...

My next major memory is of the picnic and swim party for our 8th grade graduation.  I couldn't swim for the reason most girls miss a swim party, so I was lost in thought in the picnic area of the park playground, and walking, looking down (the safest position for my eyes normally) and SMACK...walked straight into the parallel bars, knocking a knot on my forehead.  I would have made a quick recovery, unnoticed, because most everyone had taken off to the pool, but my teacher (a wonderful man) noticed and came running over to check on me.  I was doubly mortified because: a) he knew why I couldn't go swimming, and b) he saw my humiliation.  Not one of my better memories.

There are many falls, trips and bumps I don't mention because I consider them minor.  Minor being that I was alone and had no witnesses.  Some of the incidents that were witnessed include:

1. Falling in the Birmingham bus station when we were taking my sister-in-law to catch a bus with her oldest daughter to go visit her husband in south Alabama.  Steve had her luggage and Elaine had Kathy, and I was bringing up the rear carrying Jenny in a plastic punkin seat (those were cheap plastic seats we used before they made us strap kids into crash-safe car seats, so it was light and thin).  I hit something in the floor and did a magnificent belly flop right there in the middle of the bus station in front of the derelicts that slept on the benches.  I managed to end up flat on my face with Jen stretched out in front of me, still strapped into her seat and none the worse for the ride (she was about 2 or 3 months old at the time).  Steve and I were still relative strangers at the time, so he just looked around at me stretched out flat on the floor, and said "are you ok?" and without waiting for an answer, kept walking.  It was Elaine who told him to stop til I got up, without any help. 

2. Falling flat when I was about 7 months pregnant with my son, in the middle of the in-laws living room.  I was wearing those cute cork-soled clogs that were so popular, but which meant certain doom for me (I've never learned to walk in any kind of heel).

3. Tripping over my sister's luggage while she was visiting years ago, and rupturing a ligament in my right foot, causing my great toe to look more like a monkey's thumb.  It eventually required major surgery on my right foot, which never really recovered because I still have problems with walking and now also with most types of flats (I should really just stick with wearing the shoe boxes).

4. Falling off my crutches and hitting the edge of the couch while recovering from the above mentioned surgery, causing a hematomato the size of a dinner plate on my back (I was on blood thinners at the time to prevent blood clots from immobility caused by the cast that caused my fall and, oh well, you get the idea).  Now even though this happened when I was alone, and was an unwitnessed fall, my youngest daughter was living at home and helping me get around at the time.  When she saw the hematoma (caused by bleeding underneath the skin), she told me I was banished to the couch while she and Steve were at work during the day.

5.  Falling in Redding, California, outside a hotel we had just registered at.  Wretch (aka Deb my youngest child) was right by me when I took a misstep off a curb about 2 inches high and fell on my kneecaps.  She did make a valiant attempt to catch me, but everyone in the family knows there is no saving me when I am on my way to the ground.  It took almost a year before the knee stopped swelling and hurting.

There are many more I could talk about, but I saved the most spectacular for last.  Wretch was with me that night too.  We attended the dance recital of the daughter of one my employees, and were walking to our car behind an older couple, up a slight hill on a sidewalk that was perfectly safe, or so I thought.  My toe caught the little line the separates the pavement, a dip in the pavement of about 1/4 inch, but my toe managed somehow to locate it.  I was flipped on my face so fast I couldn't even put my hands up to brace myself.  I can remember the taste of blood and how concrete tastes.  Kind of gritty and earthy.  I would have popped back onto my feet, and was on my way up actually, but Wretch screamed, and the couple in front of us turned around and ran back to help.  I refused help, but stood up holding my hand in front of my lower face because I could feel blood running down my lips.  I waved them off, and Wretch and I made a beeline to the car.  I was telling her I thought maybe it was fine, but she thought I needed a trip to the ER to get it cleaned out.  Then I took a look in the mirror.  Holy!!!  My lip was already twice as big and I had a huge abrasion across the top lip.  We went to the ER and had to wait forever to see a doctor.  While we were sitting in the waiting room, I would look down and could see my lip sticking out past my nose, then I would look at Wretch and make eye contact, and we'd laugh out loud at how ridiculous I looked.  And the other people in the waiting room would look at us like we'd lost our minds.  I finally got to see the doctor, who told the nurse to give me a tetanus shot.  I asked her after the shot was she going to clean the wound, even?  She grabbed some gauze and saline and started scrubbing my lip, at which point I thought I would slap her.  I told her to STOP, I would clean it myself at home.  You see, concrete that is in dried blood on your upper lip is NOT a fun thing to have scrubbed.  The gauze felt like a Brillo pad.  I still have a slight scar on my upper lip, my trophy from that night.  What saved my nose from being broken that night was my glasses, which were destroyed in the fall.

I really liked those glasses.


  1. Oh this is too funny! I am also a faller, a tripper, a miscalculator of my feet. My most memorable was 8th grade. It was dress up day so any excuse to get out of that horrid red and grey plaid Catholic school uniform was welcome. And hey, I was a 13 now, I got to wear mom's heels. It was also the day that it was my turn to clean the blackboards. So as I was walking from the classroom after washing them down, back to the utility closet where the big washtub was to empty the dirty chalky water, I tripped in those heels and sprawled flat on my face, sending the bucket and dirty water cascading down the hall.

    Ahh memories! lol

  2. lol well we share a name and a tendency too then! That was too funny! You were braver than me, I would never have been brave enough to wear mum's heels. I have to laugh at my falls, they happen so much that it is just fact I am overdue right now!
    thanks for sharing that memory Kathy!