Saturday, January 24, 2009

My Right Foot

When I was a kid, sometimes my parents had my brother and me shovel the driveway. Not when there was a ton of snow, mind you, but when there wasn't enough to justify the snow blower. I don't remember doing it tons of times, but I remember hating it a lot. 'Work? Why should I have to work?' I thought. Surely, I didn't need to learn a work ethic or to contribute to my own upkeep. That's madness.

Any arguments I might have provided were shot down, however, and I was occasionally asked to chip in. One afternoon in December of 1985 was just such a time. My brother and I bundled up and headed out to our long--eternally long--driveway and got to it. It was arduous work, our backs ached, and we could think of nothing but going inside to warm up.

That is, until we noticed that the cement stairs leading up to our backyard was completely piled on with snow. We lived in a hilly town, and our back yard was probably about 8 feet above our driveway/house level. There was a staircase that went between the garage on the east and a retaining wall on the west. It was suggested (I don't know by which of us) that the pile of snow might make a nice sledding opportunity. Suddenly our painfully cold bodies were irrelevant, and only the thrill of the orange plastic sled was on our minds.

I remember going down the first time, but I'm not 100% sure about that. Either way, it was FUN. The staircase was long and steep enough to get some speed up before hitting the base of the stairs. There was a patch of grass between our patio area and the driveway, and that was the place that kind of slowed you down as you neared the driveway itself. It was seriously perfection. We went down again and again, eventually deciding it would be even faster and cooler with the two of us going down together. Oh, yeah. It was.

Eventually, Mom came out to see what was taking us so long to do the shoveling. When she saw what we were doing, she was naturally a little nervous and told us to be careful. Duh! Of course we would be careful. What was she so worried about? Honestly. What could possibly happen??

Nothing. Nothing happened, and we went inside when we had our fill. But by the next day, we were ready for more, only this time, we decided two people were not enough to get the speed we needed. A quick call to my bestie Mandy across the street solved that problem. Mandy was 1.5 years older than I was, but I was still larger (hmph). We decided to go heaviest person in the back (Dirk) and lightest in front (Mandy). That put me in the middle. Good times ahead. Nothing but good times.

We positioned ourselves at the top of the stairs, my legs sticking out around Mandy. And we were OFF. Down the hill we went, all joy and anticipation. Until about half-way down, when my foot hit the retaining wall and bent backwards. By the time we hit the bottom of the stairs, I was completely freaking out. My brother, who normally was a very supportive big brother, rolled his eyes and told me to stop crying when I told him I hurt my foot. (To be fair, I really was a total crybaby. I bawled when I stubbed a toe).

I went inside--crawling because I couldn't walk on the foot--and Mom wanted to know what I was bawling about. I told her and she was as skeptical as my brother. She put me in bed, elevated the foot, and told me to just wait for it to feel better. When she came in later to check on me, she couldn't help but notice my foot was swelling up. Eep. This was when she became concerned.

Then something happened that kind of amuses me. Dad came home and looked at it and said we'd have to go to the hospital to check it out...but not till after supper. WE ATE FIRST!! I've mentioned before that we're a food-centered family, but what the heck??? My ever swelling foot was second to food. Good thing I know they loved me, huh? Anyway, we went to the E.R. after dinner, and long story short I wore a cast for six weeks. Oh, and not surprisingly I milked that thing for all the sympathy I could get.

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