The year was 1990. I was five, Precious was three, Rebecca Ann was 13, and Studmuffin was 15. Dad was 35 and Mom was 36. The cliff was 90 feet off the ground. Now that we’re done with the numbers, we can move on to the story.
Friday. The time for the church’s father-son camping trip had arrived. Dad, Studmuffin and Rebecca Ann were packing up their gear and loading it into the car, and I didn’t want them to go. I just had a bad feeling about the whole thing.
First I tried begging them to stay, and obviously a five-year-old isn’t going to make much of an impression. Then I resorted to hiding in the car with a suitcase packed full of socks and my teddy bear, so that I could go with them. I was too young to get the point of packing yet.
At last they left, and I cried a lot until Mom distracted me with something to do. Precious cried too, both because he wanted to go with Dad, and because I was crying. Poor Mom.
Saturday. Mom, Precious and I were out at yard sales, and Mom got a lawn mower. She got some help loading it into the trunk, but it hung out considerably. Unfortunately, we needed a mower, and this was the only way to get it home.
The drive back was stressful for Mom, because she was driving very slowly on the highway so the mower wouldn’t fall out, and people kept honking at her and then passing her real fast giving her the finger. Alas, despite her best efforts, the mower fell out. So she had to pull over, get the mower out of the road, and try to put it back in the trunk. Precious and I had to stay in the car, of course.
Nobody was pulling over to help her, either. She finally wrestled it back into the trunk and got in the car, pulling out onto the highway and continuing the slow pace. About five miles down, the mower fell out again. This time somebody pulled over behind us to help, and followed us the rest of the way home to help unload it.
After we’d been home for a few hours, Precious and I were playing on the front patio when Mom got a phone call. We could hear mom’s voice from inside the house, gasping and weepy. I went in to ask her what was wrong, but she motioned me back outside while she was still on the phone.
I went back to playing with Precious, and shortly thereafter, Mom came out and sat down on the steps next to us. She told us that Dad was in an accident, that he fell off a cliff and might not be coming home.
I don’t remember if Precious cried, but I didn’t. It didn’t really register in my 5-year-old brain that something really bad had happened. So I went back to playing with Precious, and Mom went back in the house to call people.
Here’s the lowdown: Dad was climbing a steep rock face, no ropes or anything. He reached the top, 90 feet off the ground, and as he was climbing over the edge, he slipped on some loose rocks and fell backward, hitting a ledge about halfway down and then landing at the bottom. Studmuffin, Rebecca Ann and their friend Snowballs were at the top and saw him fall, so they ran down the path to the bottom and found Dad laying there groaning. His face was all gashed in, and there was blood everywhere. Studmuffin stayed with Dad and applied direct pressure to his face with his shirt, while Rebecca Ann and Snowballs ran for help.
He was rushed to the hospital, where they ended up wiring his jaw shut (it was shattered), putting a rod in his leg to replace the damaged-beyond-repair bone, and fixing his collapsed lung and broken ribs. Haggard.
Months later, after Dad had graduated to using crutches, (this was like 6 months later or something) the TV show Rescue 911 asked to recreate the accident for their show. They filmed a few interviews with Dad, Mom, Studmuffin and Rebecca Ann, shot a few scenes of reenacted drama, and then sent us some t-shirts.
There you go. PS Dad can walk just fine now. But he still has the rod in his leg and some bolts in his jaw.