Monday, April 25, 2011

A Trip to the Fair - Part 1

The azaleas are in bloom here in North Florida, ushering in the springtime. One of the annual events is the Putnam County Fair which we always try to attend but usually something comes up and we don't go.

This year was different. A year and a half ago I reconnected with my best friend at, of all things, her husband's funeral. I kicked myself for letting the time -- nearly 20 years -- get by us, and I regretted losing out on spending time with them both when they were a happy couple.

So now, with my perspective changed, I am trying to do things before it's too late. Even the little things are important. No more "there will be time for that later" as we all know that later may not come. And nobody lays on their death bed wishing they'd worked more. No, they regret that they didn't spend more quality time with the kids and grandkids.

So, with that goal in mind, I DID go to the fair this year by gosh! And I went with my 12 year old and my rediscovered friend, Karen, and her great neice and great nephew. It was dollar night and all we needed to do was bring 1 canned good donation per person and entry into the gates was just $1 a head. All rides were also just a buck.

The kids kept encouraging me to go with them on all these rides that whipped you around and turned you upsidedown, but I was content to be there living vicariously and watching them have all the fun. The smiles and laughter brought joy to my soul.

We walked around the park and let the kids ride all the rides and play all the games while Karen and I reminisced. At one point we were in the back corner of the fair, looking out across the entire event. The glow of the setting sun bathed the screaming, laughing crowd in a golden glow and all seemed right in the world.

I said something like "this day couldn't be more perfect!" and Karen said "Used to be I'd come to the fair and see so many people I know. This year I don't see anyone. It's a shame to say, but nowadays if I want to see people I know I have to go to the hospital."

Since losing her husband over a year ago it seems like she's spent all her free time nursing her loved ones with no time for grieving her own loss. The remark about the hospital was funny, but true.

At that moment the kids got off a particularly crazy ride that had spun them silly and they were staggering all over. My son, who leans toward the dramatic, was overacting it a bit and stumbled into me causing me to, in turn, stumble before I caught my balance. In a cross voice I tell him "Hey! Be careful! I ALMOST FELL!"

My heart pounding in my chest from the near catastrophe, we turned and headed  down the fairway toward our next ride. It was maybe all of 10 steps later that it happened.

My hands were involved in the task of digging for ride tickets in my purse which was hanging from my shoulder when my left toe came to a stop on my leg's forward motion. For anyone that has tripped in their life, they know that utter panic that instantly hits you when your gait is suddenly interrupted and there is no recovery, and not really even any planning time for the best way to minimize your impact. It's no different than being strapped into a ride at the fair and knowing you made a horrible mistake thinking you could handle The Zipper this time. You just ride it out until it's over.

I sort of flew horizontally for a brief moment before my left knee impacted the blacktop, followed almost instantly by the left side of my forehead. I remember it made an amazingly loud "CRACK!" sound and my glasses flew off my face.

The first thought I had was being angry because I paid a lot of money for those bifocals, but then I remembered I had been wearing sunglasses. Whew.  It's funny what stupid things you think about at times like that. (well maybe it's just me.)

My son came running up screaming "MOM! MOM! Are you ok???" and my friend Karen turned around, not having seen me go down, and immediately panicked thinking it was my MS. Since we have been reunited in our friendship, she's not had the pleasure of seeing what an MS attack does to me and did not know that normally it's more gradual than that and would not put me unexpectedly flat on my face.

So there I lay. Next thing I know, some guy who saw me fall came running over and was helping me up. When I lifted my face from the ground I heard a collective gasp from everyone around. I reached for my forehead and was surprised to feel a huge goose egg there. When I pulled my hand back it was covered with blood. Eeeek!!

THAT'S when I started to freak out. Karen and the stranger both helped me to a bench just feet away where I sat cupping my goose egg and shaking uncontrollably.Karen ran to get me some ice and I could hear people shouting to call an ambulance.

It seemed like everything was moving in slow motion. Karen gave me a bag of ice that I pressed to my head while my son sat sobbing beside me. I was confused about what happened and had initially scolded him again for tripping me. He said he didn't think he did, and after reliving it again in my mind I realized he'd been behind me to my right and there wasn't really any way he could have done it. No, I had just tripped over my own two clumsy feet.

(to be continued...)