There was a time when the emergency room doctors called my Mother by her first name and the nurses treated her like royalty. This was because we virtually LIVED in that part of the hospital. It started with accident prone parents who passed on the accident gene to the children. You would think that the gene would discriminate or develop with age, but it just sort of randomly reveals itself.
The worst trips were those that involved the behavior of not one but two or more of the children at one time. For instance, there was the great "tamping rod toe squashing" of 1968. I didn't know the thing weighed a ton and I was in awe of my brother's ability to continually balance it on the tip. Sure, he told me to leave it alone while he went to the bathroom, but it just looked too easy! So, of course, when I not only could not balance it, but could not hold it up and it subsequently squashed my toe - flattened it like a pancake no less - my brother got the blame. I don't recall it hurting. I recall my Mother going into hysterics and ranting at my brother about responsibility (sure...he understood being a full TWO YEARS older than me at the time) and forcing me to hobble to the car - the front seat - yaaay.
When we got to the emergency room, it was the usual "Bettye - bring her to area 4" which Mother knew exactly the spot. I got this massive bandage, lots of attention and directions on dressing but I could see them giggling as I relayed the exact story - this was suburbia and most of them had never heard of a tamping rod. They didn't have beagles who were later transformed into beetle hounds! They didn't understand the need for constructing dog proof fencing. I think they got the most enjoyment out of Mother's embarrassment since she had been there only days before after breaking her own toe.
Hysterics for Mother had different levels. Hysterics from squashed toes were more of temper tantrums directed at whoever disrupted the lovely day and forced her to drop what she was doing to go to the emergency room....again. Hysterics from concussions were more like repeatedly reciting the hour of day to the supposed victim until we reached the emergency room. Hysterics from broken digits - usually her own- were more like ranting at Daddy about leaving something in the way...and JUST NOW I realize just how much like my Mother I may be!
There was the one time however, that hysterics for my Mother were REAL hysterics. It was the Chapman Avenue Neighborhood Tupperware Party of 1970. My sister was maybe two years old. My other sister - the evil one - was maybe four. I was old enough to remember ALL THE DETAILS of this short lived excursion. By short lived, I mean we did not make it past the front door.
As usual, mother was running late through no fault of her own. We didn't like wearing our matching outfits - especially me since I was in denial that the other two were any relation to me - well, the baby was still cool - so we rebelled, each dressing in what we wanted to wear. I don't recall the exact details but I think this involved the two year old wearing summer shorts and a winter sweater which appalled Mother to the point that she made us all go and change while tamping her foot and staring at the clock. Why don't mothers learn to start three hours ahead of time?
She finally got us dressed and organized/headed towards the door. She was dragging baby sister, evil sister in the midst of the drama and me already clearing the steps of the porch (someone mentioned "go" - that's all it ever took!) Somehow - and I completely blame this on evil sister - baby sister was still resisting this trip. Now...baby sister looked and behaved normally like a true living doll - so this rebellion was a new thing to Mother and to the rest of us actually. Whatever transpired next is still up for debate to this day but only because evil sister declares herself innocent. At some point, baby sister grabbed the framing of the door resisting exit - the side with hinges and ...someone....I'm not saying who...but someone evil....slammed the door too soon or just in time depending on just how EVIL this someone may have been!
Doing what any reactionary human being would do, baby sister...well...pulled and things came apart - not the door but digits. You would think with as many things as my Mother saw ever happen to individual digits in our household, this would have been another routine - blame the siblings- load the victim into the front seat, the villains into the backseat and go to the emergency room. But something...Mother swears it was guilt by HER OWN actions in closing the door - I say rage by the actions of the evil one ...snapped in Mother.
She grabbed baby sister and headed back into the house. Of course, I was cheated - "GO' either meant to the party or to the hospital - either way there was a trip involved. She saw the digits and began her short process towards dimentia. First she attempted to wrap them. At this point, I headed next door to get my brother who would know what to do. When we both got back she was on the phone but with who? We couldn't understand her but sister was sitting there rather calmly with her hand somewhere underneath a massive heap of towels.
Of course, brother immediately took a look at the digits and remarked at how cool the site was. This sent mother into deeper dimentia and she began what I recall as babbling on the phone. She slung the receiver my direction and I realized she was on the phone with Daddy. All I could tell him was someone evil chopped off the fingers in the door. He told me to go get the neighbor across the street and I followed orders but it was getting old running from one house to another when I had anticipated a trip. Meanwhile my brother was scraping souvenirs off the door frame - this too enabled the dimentia to grow even more profound.
I did manage to catch the neighbor before her exit to "The Party" and she came over only to find my mother blithering something about death and destruction still holding the phone. She managed to get enough information to realize that this time it was the doctor's office and quickly said "Betty has chopped off her baby's hand in the door and she needs you to meet her in the emergency room!" She began scrambling with my baby sister, my mother and they headed for the car - without us! Only an intelligent neighbor would ruin our trip!
All in all, sister lost a nail and a fingertip with no bone damage - duh - we were not surprised. Mother managed to compose herself at the direct orders of our neighbor and the rest of us got to help change the dressing - sort of like with my toe only baby was smaller and more fragile than I ever was. So, we enjoyed taking turns treating her like the real baby doll she was. The Neighborhood Party - of course - was ruined since the two main attendees were my mother and our neighbor!
It made for a good story just like the rest of the chaos in our world! When Daddy finally got home, we got to explain our Mother's mental breakdown which we found much more entertaining that the actual crisis and we glorified the heroic actions of our neighbor for taking the situation in her control. Unfortunately, as hard as we have pushed, the rest of our lives, we have not been able to force such a breakdown upon Mother again.
Snow Tire and Frozen Daffodil Festival
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