Betcha’ don’t have much to do on a Saturday. If you’re like me, the day would normally stretch out in an eternity of unfilled hours, where all the chores are caught up and your imagination for creative projects remains in a holding pattern of a blank screen. No one in your family needs you to help them with anything, and the pets are content not to eat or ask to go in and out eleventy million times a day. It’s just one of those days when you suddenly realize that every last stich of laundry is totally caught up, and the grass never grew all week, the groceries never ran low because no one ate, and there was certainly no need for you to do anything except sit around all day in your hammock on the back porch with a blank gaze toward the ceiling. There isn’t, even in all the libraries in the whole city, a book worth reading. The second hand stores ran out of junk to sell you, and the facebook feed is totally empty of anything. You’re all caught up on ted talks and podcasts and blogs, and there is just simply, nothin’ t’ do.
You have Saturdays like that, don’t you? So, you decide that since there’s a few buckets of gray paint sittin around doin nothin, you might as well open one up and paint your garage. Nice and early, but not too early. Like around 9 am when the sun has started to help the midnight dew evaporate. When it’s not yet unbearably hot and humid.
You get to work right away, when your neighbor comes out to get the newspaper with his big yellow lab, who barks in your face. Thinking of being polite, he says “Dais-ey. Knock it off.” Then he notices you with your paint and says, “Well, look at you! Painting the house!” And you reply, “Yep! It may take a while.” And he answers in his usual big booming voice, “Well that’s alright, it’s SOMETHIN T’ DO.”
After he goes back inside, you consider his observation. You think, by golly, yes. This is something to do. I am doing something. This is good. It is good to keep myself engaged in a long, interesting process of slapping gray paint on the side of this garage in August. When simply standing around doing absolutely nothing at all produces a full body sweat.
By 11 am, you have managed to paint your way around to the opposite side of the garage, where there is shade. Climbing the ladder, you again enjoy the simple process of swiping your gray glop back and forth while the sweat soaks the back of your shirt and your head begins to feel a bit swimmy. You decide it’s time to go in for some ice water and a bite to eat, and step backward, into thin air, which quickly turns into concrete. You only feel a ripping pain in your ankle as your head hits the concrete.
Somethin. Ta. Do.
Stunned by the fall on the driveway, you realize that something is not quite right. You feel like you are going away. Slipping out of consciousness, you call to your son. “Elliot. Call Daddy.”
In a moment, you hear the sound of your husband’s voice telling you to keep talking, when you really just want to close your eyes and take a nap. But the pain in your ankle keeps you awake. You ask for ice, for ibuprofen, for water. Which your son brings to you while you listen to your husband on the other end.
Then a strange sensation appears in your ears, and you feel like throwing up. Your ears feel as though they are pressurized, and begin popping.
Realizing that you might need to go to urgent care, you ask Elliot to bring you a clean t shirt. The paint flew every where when you fell.
Your heart is racing, and you think it might be a flow of adrenaline.
The pain in your ankle is pretty much a problem and you decide not to get up right away. In fact you just sit very still until your husband arrives. At the urgent care, they send you on to the dreadful ER, because, you know, head injury.
In the ER, you can’t stop laughing. The adrenaline does something funny to you, and your husband starts to worry that something is seriously wrong because whatever you are laughing at is, in his opinion, not the slightest bit funny at all.
But he doesn’t understand. Every summer, my dad would need an ER visit for some freak accident. And because this was a pattern with him, my mom would start laughing. And giggling, and chuckling and wheezing. She would ask him, “Rog, is it time to go to Wheeeeeeeeelock?” (Whelock was the name of our small town hospital.)
He once drove his car off the road during a sneezing attack, broke his nose on the steering wheel, came home late for dinner (my mom had invited guests and had been working very hard all morning on the meal)…anyway, she made him sit though the meal before taking him to the hosptial. Because, this was just a normal thing that happened every single summer. And she laughed. Even though she tried to stop and knew that this was serious. She just couldn’t help it. Nerves or something.
It sounds so mean of her, but my father always understood. It’s that relief that happens to know that you made it through without dying. You will be okay. Dad was going to live.
As I sat in the waiting room for six hours on Saturday, my laughter keep coming out. And it flowed knowing that at this very moment, I was both my parents at the same time. Here I was, being my dad and my mom at once. The person hurting in the hospital, and the one laughing. And then, I got my son to laugh, and he couldn’t stop laughing. He was sucking air when he recognized that when he laughs uncontrollably, he sounds exactly like a chimpanzee. Just imagine a chimp. That’s Elliot when he laughs. Now try not to laugh when you think about it.
So it’s no wonder that it took six hours. The nurses must have realized that I wasn’t going to die that day.
Anyone who laughs that much in a place like the ER must certainly be okay.
And I am.
They even had crutches just my size. And the CT scan says my brain is not injured, although it is surely up for debate on whether it is normal.
So if you have nothin to do on a Saturday… you could spend it like I did.
By the way, after the paint was applied, it rained. Like mad.
And when I came home, all four of our pets surrounded me. It was so good to be home, with nothin to do.