Saturday, April 06, 2013
F is for "Please Help Me, I'm FALLING"
No. I’m not falling in love with anyone. I fell in love with my hero, Frank, fifty-two years ago, and I’m still in love with him. Not planning on falling in love again.
In fact, I never plan to fall at all, but that doesn’t keep me from tripping or slipping or stumbling and going splat down on my knees or my fanny . . . or my arm or ankle.
All my life I’ve been plagued with falls. Pictures of me when I was a little girl often show knees with bandages, so I must have been falling even back then.
The first bad fall that I remember was in our neighborhood in a post-World War II housing project in New Orleans. I was in sixth grade, so I guess I was about eleven years old. Every afternoon, we kids would grab our skates as soon as we got home and head for the sidewalk next to our apartment, strap on our skates, tighten them with our keys, and begin to skate dance all up and down the sidewalk, singing “I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover,” “Singing in the Rain,” “My Blue Heaven,” and other jazzy tunes. On one of those afternoons, I stumbled, fell, and broke my left arm. That was the first broken bone.
Many falls later, in 1962, when I was in college, I took another major fall. My roommate and I had been to lunch and were returning to our dorm room. For some silly reason, we started playing as we went up the stairs. I’d give Alice a little push, and she’d run up a few steps; then she’d give me a push, and I’d run up. When we got a few steps from the landing on the second floor, she gave me my push, and I stumbled. Clumsy girl! Down I went, landing on my ankle. The pain was excruciating. We both knew that I was hurt badly, so Alice took me to the infirmary, where the school nurse gave me her cure-all for every ailment—hot Jell-O. Go figure on that one! When the hot Jell-O didn’t heal my ankle, Alice took me to the hospital in Jackson, Mississippi, where my ankle—broken, of course—was put in a cast.
I never thought that my clumsiness on a Wednesday afternoon in February 1961, would change my life forever, but it did.
I stayed out of class for several days; however, soon our house mother insisted that I go back to class. Almost all of my classes were on the second floor of Nelson Hall, so I was in a quandary. But Alice had the solution. You see, Alice had been in love with the new man on campus, Frank Young, since he came to Mississippi College in August 1960. It was really just a crush that she had, but you’d surely think she was in love . . . in love from afar, that is. Her solution? She’d get Frank to carry me up the stairs, and she could flirt with him while he performed his chore.
That decision was the beginning of a lifetime love affair, not for my sweet roommate, but for Frank and me. Oh, believe me, there were some tears before our courtship settled in. The night that I went back to our dorm room after Frank called me and asked me for a date was anything but pleasant. When I told Alice what I was doing, she burst into tears and accused me of taking her boyfriend. What? They weren’t even dating. She announced that she’d just go home that weekend, and I thought that was a good idea. When she came back to our room on Sunday evening, she was just fine. She knew that even if he didn’t date me, it certainly didn’t mean he’d date her. Alice and I remained best friends; we roomed together until Frank became my “roommate”; she was in our wedding; and we’re still good friends . . . fifty-two years later. A very fortuitous fall, don’t you think?
I continued to fall through the years . . . in our home, at church, on the campus where I taught, in Mexico, in Ukraine, everywhere we went. Sometimes I’d get scratches, sometimes bruises, always aches and pains afterwards. If you’re not from the South, you may not understand our expression for those aches and pains. We say we’re “stove up.” Please don’t ask for an explanation! Even worse than scratches, bruises, aches and pains is the embarrassment which accompanies public falls. My pride is always hurt the most!
Fast forward to March 2004. Frank and I had relocated from the South to Cerrillos, New Mexico, to be close to our daughter, Wendy, and her family. We needed to go back to Pensacola to pack up the final load of odds and ends that we’d left there. We arrived on Tuesday afternoon, and while he was loading heavy stuff, I was to do some light packing upstairs. I finished my easy job and headed down to put a box in the truck. I don’t think I was meant to navigate stairs because just about three steps from the bottom, I slipped. Once you’ve broken an ankle, you never forget the pain. It was back. I knew for sure that I’d broken the other ankle.
Poor Frank! That evening, after we’d been to the emergency room and had gotten a temporary cast put on, he had to carry me up the stairs again. You can believe for sure that this time it wasn’t nearly so romantic!