Tag Archives: hospital

For Want of a Code a Ham Was Lost . . . Almost

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The object of the quest!

This has been a rough couple of days.

Yesterday morning, I picked up my nearly-dead cell phone to discover a message from my sis-in-law, Missy, who had called at 11:30 PM the previous night in an attempt to relay the message that Dad had been taken to the hospital by ambulance because of chest pains which developed as he and Sandy, my mom-in-law, were watching the final minutes of “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?”

This was a cause of concern.

I called Sandy, who was in the room with Dad awaiting the team to come prep him for an exploratory heart catheterization. She said the procedure was scheduled for 1:00 PM. I assured her we would be there. Upon hanging up with Sandy, I waited for Budge to awaken of her own free will to tell her that her Dad was in the hospital about to undergo a bit of heart surgery.

She took the news quite well.

Dad's troubles lay in the LAD and the OM vessels.

We spent the rest of the day yesterday in the waiting room of the Heart Cath Lab at St. Francis Hospital in downtown Greenville. The procedure that was to start at 1:00 was delayed by a complete comedy of errors until 4:00 but the doctor managed to detect the blockages and place one stent into one of those blockages in the Left Anterior Descending Coronary Artery (the “LAD” for short). Unfortunately, the plaque dam in the Obtuse Marginal Artery would have to wait because of the deleterious effect of the acidity of the contrast dye used in the procedure. Well, in due time, in this case due time being 11:00 AM this morning, the second stent found its new home and Dad was taken to his room for a period of rest and recovery before he is released tomorrow.

Because of all that drama, I got stuck with ham duty.

See, we — that is to say Budge’s side of the family — planned to gather at Dad and Sandy’s tomorrow night for a Christmas celebration and the guest of honor was slated to be a patented Fully Cooked Honeybaked Sugar Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham. The love Dad and Budge have for Honeybaked Hams is hard to overstate, which may have been partially responsible for those nasty blockages, come to think of it. Now, Budge and Sandy were talking in the waiting room this morning about shoes, wine, children, how Budge broke her toe the night before, etc, etc, when Sandy suddenly exclaimed, “Oh dear, the ham will be ready to pick up at 2:00 today.”

The ham. The Fully Cooked Honeybaked Sugar Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham. Will be ready. At 2:00. TODAY.

Let me recap for you. Dad, Sandy’s husband, Budge’s father, my beloved father-in-law, is having heart surgery at that very moment. Everybody on board? Despite that little bump in the road, however, somehow, a HAM — that was to be served at a dinner that is now cancelled for obvious reasons — shot to the top of the priority board. I don’t know how. That’s not my area. I just know Sandy was worried about the ham so Budge put her at ease with, “We will pick up the ham.” Sandy felt this was a capital idea and wrote out a blank check for us to purchase the Fully Cooked Honeybaked Sugar Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham. Apparently, the ham question was settled. Dad came out of surgery just fine; we all hugged necks and sent Dad off to his room with Sandy close behind.

Then Budge and I realized we were hungry.

So, off we went to Oriental House for lunch. En route, we contacted Erica who joined us for a fine lunch of some kind of meat liberally soaked in “white sauce.” For the record, I don’t know what kind of meat it actually is nor do I have much idea of the ingredients in the “white sauce.” I just know it tastes divine so I adhere to the Apostle Paul’s admonition in his First Epistle to the Corinthian Church and go on about my business.  After the meal, Budge and Erica decided to go see a movie. I reminded Budge that we had ham duty and was informed that now I had ham duty. They went to the movie and I went to pick up the Fully Cooked Honeybaked Sugar Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham.

I managed to get to the Honeybaked Store on Pleasantburg Drive without incident. I managed to get across the parking lot in the driving rain without incident. However, I did not manage to pick up the ham without incident. I confidently strode to the counter under the “Pick up hams here” sign and a brightly smiling young lady with a beautiful cafe au lait complexion looked at me sweetly and said, “May I have your code please?”

I remembered Budge and Sandy discussing a code earlier. I even remembered the code they were discussing, so I blithely sang out “52252” and waited for my ham to appear.

My ham did not appear and it was here my troubles began.

Abandon all hope ye who enter herein without a CODE!

The sweet child said, “Um, that’s not one of our codes, sir. I need your official Honeybaked Ham code so I can get your ham.” (Incidentally, that code turned out to be the code to get into the garage within which dwells the extra refrigerator where the Fully Cooked Honeybaked Sugar Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham — in a perfect and code free world — was supposed to be deposited)

I didn’t have a code. I had a blank check. I was to pick up a ham. This had seemed a straightforward transaction.

I told the sweet young lady that I had no other code but the ham was under Sandy Sims’ name at which point she smiled and said, “We don’t file hams by name, sir, just codes.”Once again, I explained that I didn’t have a code. I had a blank check. I was to pick up a ham.

So, trying to be helpful, she said, “Well how many people are you serving? Maybe we can figure out the code that way.” I never realized it would take an advanced degree in cryptography to buy a ham.

Keeping my smile as plastered on as I could, I told the girl I didn’t have a code. I had a blank check. I was to pick up a ham. Furthermore, this time I added that as a MAN, did she really think I would have been entrusted with something as vitally important as the Christmas gathering guest list? So finally, she gave up and got the manager who came out and the first thing this bright apple did was say, “May I have your code, sir?”

I didn’t have a code. I had a blank check. I was to pick up a ham and instead ended up in a Monty Python skit.

At the end of my tether by this point, I told the man to just give me one of the biggest damn hams in the store and if it were the wrong one, I would eat the leftovers myself. This finally garnered me a bag full of a Fully Cooked Honeybaked Sugar Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham at which point I went to the register to pay.

The young man had witnessed the entire fracas and so was most solicitous as I filled in the rest of the check for the ridiculous price they asked for a Fully Cooked Honeybaked Sugar Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham. I handed him the check and he looked it over carefully. I was about to ask him if something was wrong when he looked at me most somberly and pointed towards four numbers neatly written at the top of the check in Sandy’s immaculate handwriting as he announced, “Um, sir, that’s your code.”

He managed to keep a straight face. I did not.

Love y’all and keep those feet clean.

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My Beautiful Blue-eyed Baby’s Got the Busy Bouncing Eyeball Blues

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If you need one of these for a post, you can be pretty certain things did not end well.

Normally, I don’t have much of an excuse when I don’t put out content on a regular basis for my one adoring fan, (Hi, Mom!) but this quiet stretch is different. For the last week and a half, I have been helping Budge as she recovers from a blindsiding and vicious attack of vertigo of unknown origin. Here’s how it’s all gone down.

Last Wednesday, she and I were shopping in Target. We were near the Outdoor Living section and it is a very good thing that we were because one second she was fine and we were chatting away like normal and the next second her face went ashen and she informed me she HAD to sit down. She said she was uncontrollably dizzy and felt like she was going to vomit at any minute. We sat for about ten minutes before we managed to slowly and painfully make our way to the checkout. At the checkout line, another wave of dizziness and nausea overcame Budge again so she crept over to the in-store Starbucks and sat down to wait on me.

After another ten minutes of deep breathing and panic, we were able to get to the car and start home. I had to pull over once because she was certain she was going to hurl, but nothing happened and we made it to the house. I put her to bed immediately and went on taking care of the daily chores thinking it was just a bit of nausea and she’d wake up in an hour or two just as well as ever.

I got it HALF right.

Two hours later, Budge woke up in a panic and yelled for me to bring her a bucket. I took one step towards the bathroom to get the requested item when my poor Budge erupted. She tossed up her entire baked spaghetti lunch from her favorite Italian restaurant. Then she tossed up her breakfast bar. Then dinner from the night before. This Krakatoic output continued until she expelled Christmas dinner from 2003 and she finally subsided into a miserable bout of dry heaving.  She and I have been together for sixteen years and we’ve endured more than our fair share of upchucking. We’ve dealt with food poisoning, stomach flu, and good old fashioned nausea bugs, but in all that time, I’d NEVER seen my wife as sick as she was for that restless hour. The strangest symptom was her eyes. They were vibrating from side to side like a bubble level on a rodeo bull. It was disconcerting. I later found out this affliction is called “nystagmus.” I guess that is Latin for “wildly vibrating eyeballs.”

Look at this for about 30 seconds and youll have some idea of what Budges eyes were doing.

It was a lot like this only with more orange, more smell, and sideways.

It took about an hour, but by breathing through my open mouth to blunt the effects of the hideous smell of stomach contents, I was able to get the carpet cleaned up, the bed cleaned up, and the Budge cleaned up. She drifted off into a fitful sleep and I figured she’d miss the next day of school and the bug would run its course and all would be well.

That plan hit the bricks at 3:00 AM when Budge sat bolt upright in bed and groped for the bucket again. After ten unbroken minutes of dry heaving, she weakly asked if we could go to the ER and I was in full agreement. We rolled in to Hillcrest Hospital in Simpsonville at 3:30 AM and immediately got a bay. Then the wheels fell off the wagon. At some point in the dim past, Hillcrest was a good little hospital. I was born there when it still had a baby ward. Several members of my family died there for one reason or another. Of course, that was back when the medical profession was run by doctors and not accountants and the emphasis was on helping people and not making money. Such is not now the case.

I know several doctors, my own physician and psychiatrist among them, who are justifiably proud of graduating in the top five percent of their medical school class. By definition, if a “top five” percent exists, a “bottom five” percent also exists. For years I wondered who would hire such and inept group of doctors. Now I know. The Greenville Hospital System must have held a job fair in the “Just Barely Doctors” dorm at every medical college in country and sent the new hires to the ER at Hillcrest.

We were in the ER for 17 HOURS. Seventeen. SEVENTEEN. HOURS. For twelve of those hours, Budge was the guinea pig for a Yankee woman doctor with a tree trunk sized chip on her shoulder who knows as much about medicine as I know about piloting the space shuttle. My beloved got an MRI, a CAT scan, a full blood panel, and several more tests all involving pointy things jabbing into my wife’s tender flesh. Brunhilda found nothing. Am I relieved that Budge didn’t have anything serious? Yes, very. Do I think she needed to be subjected to every test in the last medical textbook this sawbones read? Not so much. So after hours of fruitless testing, Brunhilda finally realized she had no clue what she was doing and decided to let the adults have a turn.

As a result, Budge was transferred by ambulance to Greenville Memorial Hospital. We stayed from Wednesday night to LATE Saturday night in room 2328 racking up charges only to have a bottom fiver neurologist and a pretty fair ENT look Budge over and say her symptoms were “idiopathic.” That is doctor-ese for “danged if I know what’s wrong but let’s run some more tests because the mark up on supplies is so good!”

I you have been reading this blog for any amount of time, you are well aware that I do not suffer fools gladly and I am quite liberal in my definition of “fool”. With Budge laid up and unable to contain my baser instincts, I very untactfully let a lot of people know what my opinion of their ability to practice medicine was. For example, I told Brunhilda in no uncertain terms exactly what she could do with that stethoscope hanging around her neck. It won’t surprise anyone that, by the time we left on Saturday, the nurses, orderlies, doctors, and security guards were very excited to see me go.

Today marks a week that we have been home. Budge is still suffering from dizziness. We have been to three MORE doctors this week as follow-ups from the hospital debacle and the upshot is we know a ton of things my love DOESN’T have. She missed all of last week at school and with standardized testing coming up, that has here in a tizzy. Next week is Spring Break, and we have a couple more appointments scheduled then. For the moment though, a ton of tests and around $25oo worth of co-pays later, we still don’t know what’s wrong with her. The best we’ve gotten so far is “whatever it is, it’ll run it’s course, probably.”

So keep your feet clean and keep us in your prayers.

Love y’all!

An Early Religious Misconception

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Nota Bene: The events and discussion in this post refer to my youth when I was younger and more foolish. I have realized that some notions I held as a much younger man were wrong at best and asinine at worst and, like most of my screwups “worst” was pretty much de rigeur.”

It has been long accepted among those who know me that I was born sans the mental “tact” filter normally present between a person’s brain and mouth. While this lack of parts has proven to be of small consequence to my general intelligence, it has been somewhat deleterious to my ability to form or maintain solid interpersonal relationships. I feel this issue to be largely because the majority of people who ask, “How are you?,” don’t really wish to know and those who ask, “What do you think?,” could generally care less. Normal people realize this disparity and speak accordingly.

I do not.

In what F. Scott Fitzgerald called “my younger and more vulnerable years,” this predisposition towards speaking my entire mind on matters in a plain, unvarnished and unrepentant manner was nowhere more apparent than my conversations with friends, family, acquaintances, and even perfect strangers on the subject of religion.

Now as a boy, my catechismical education was split by expedience borne of necessity between my beloved mother, who was a moderate Pentecostal, and my nearly equally beloved Granny Wham, who was a staunchly conservative Southern Baptist for whom the Martha Wham Bible Class at Beulah Baptist Church remains named for to this day. In strictly moral matters, Mama’s Pentecostalism was functionally equivalent to Granny’s Southern Baptistism. Doctrinally and theologically, however, their lessons with me often met at jarring perpendiculars rather than running in smoothly harmonious parallels.

One day, it is possible that I may endeavor to explore the differences between the faiths of Mama and Granny Wham that caused me no end of anguish in my formative years, but that will not be today. At present, though, I would rather concentrate on one of the few facets of their instruction that was practically identical. This rare accord extended to the dubious claim that Catholics had to salvation.

Please try to understand that growing up in Upstate South Carolina in the 1970s and 80s, I was but slightly less likely to have a meaningful conversation with a Martian than speak to a practicing Catholic. This region of the state was settled by several strains of Protestants who rode north centuries ago to escape the Catholic and Episcopalian domination of Charleston and the rest of the Lowcountry. Simply put, Catholics were as rare as screen doors on submarines. Until I went to college, I knew a grand total of ONE Catholic personally. It would be fair to say I knew more about flying a jet airplane than about the workings and doctrines of Holy Mother Church.

What I DID know, having been taught by Granny Wham and Mama, was that Catholics probably were not going to

That chalice does NOT contain Welch's grape juice!

Heaven because they didn’t pray to Jesus, they prayed to the Virgin Mary; they didn’t confess to God but to a priest; their forebears had burned our forebears at the stake; and, obviously most heinously of all, Catholics drank  ACTUAL WINE during what we called The Lord’s Supper but they referred to as Communion. Please understand that this final point had nothing to do with the fine points of Transubstantiation versus Consubstantiation. It was VASTLY more simple. Catholics drank REAL HONEST-TO-GOD ALCOHOL IN CHURCH. In my part of the South, where to be Christian is to be a teetotaler, full blood libel could have been overlooked easier than drinking.

In any event, neither Mama nor Granny would ever state unequivocally that Catholics were damned. Both had room in their theology for the forgiveness of even the most mortal sin of wine-bibbing in the House of God.  Had I confined my religious education to their lessons, I probably would have spared myself a slice of embarrassment. Unfortunately,  I was also influenced by a few radio preachers I listened to on occasion late at night when I couldn’t sleep. These men were my first encounter with Fundamentalism and at that tender and impressionable age, I sopped up their neat, accurate determinations of black and white as if it were the best milk gravy Granny Hughes could make. One point these men agreed upon — if they agreed upon little else — was that Catholics were well and truly and eternally headed for Hell, apparently on the express train. These firebrands would have been quite at home in Henry VIII’s court handing down execution and confiscation orders on the heads of Catholics.

I listened and internalized what I should not have, to my embarrassing harm.

It was sometime around my eleventh summer when I was visiting some member of the family in the hospital with Granny and Papa Wham. My memory is vague on the specifics because of what happened during the visit. This particular day, we were not at the local Hillcrest Hospital nor even at the monolithic Greenville Memorial Hospital. We were downtown at St. Francis Hospital. That would be St. Francis as in St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the poor. That would be patron saint as in CATHOLIC. St. Francis Hospital was, at that time, run by the Sisters of the Poor. Also, at that time, the Sisters had not abandoned the traditional penguinesque habits I was familiar with.

In any event, we were all crowded into this hospital room waiting to see our ailing relative off to surgery for an ingrown toenail or some other equally life endangering procedure. Suddenly, two of the Sisters of the Poor appeared in the doorway with a gurney to pick up our family member. They asked the occupant of the bed if they might pray for him before they left the room. I remember he gave his assent and it was then that I had one of those unfiltered moments I referred to at the beginning.

I said, “Hold on a minute! You can’t pray for him.” The two sisters turned to me. As I said, I was 11. They were ancient. I supposed they were 30 if they were a day. One of them spoke, “and why not young man?” Recalling both my formal Sunday School lessons at Granny and Mama’s knees AND, more importantly, what I’d heard on the late night airwaves from Brother Jim-Bob’s House of Glory Holy Tabernacle of Fire and Brimstone, I stated bluntly, “Well, aren’t you two nuns?” The spokeswoman nodded her agreement so I continued, “and that means you’re Catholic, right?” Again, affirmation followed and Granny Wham finally guessed what was coming but couldn’t reach me in time. Instead she heard me say with all the righteous confidence of an 11 year old Pauline scholar, “Well, it won’t do you no good to pray; you’ll rub your Catholic damnation off on him because everybody knows ALL CATHOLICS ARE GOING TO SPLIT HELL WIDE OPEN AND ROAST ON THE DEVIL’S PITCHFORK! ”

Gentle readers, I won’t describe the ensuing pandemonium. Suffice it to say that for one of the only times in my life, Granny Wham grabbed my arm in anger and pushed me towards Papa Wham, who incidentally seemed desperate to keep a grin off his face, to have me removed from the room but not before both of the sisters managed to let it be known in no uncertain terms what they thought of my ideas AND upbringing.

The incomparable Mark Twain wrote, “A man who picks a cat up by the tail gains knowledge he could get no other way.”

With that in mind, ladies and gentlemen, the moral of the story is this — should you ever have the opportunity to tell a nun either directly or by implication that she is going to split Hell wide open and roast on the Devil’s pitchfork, take my advice and no matter how tempting it may be,  just let the moment pass!

Love all of y’all, my Catholic brothers and sisters especially!

Keep those feet clean!

 

Woolly Bully, Woolly . . . Boom!

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Not mine, but a very accurate representation! Color's perfect, but the wheels are wrong.

When I was 15 years old, Daddy sold his boat and bought me a 1979 Mustang Ghia. Aunt Cathy called and told me to get up to Granny and Papa’s as soon as I could. I was afraid something was wrong because I really wasn’t expecting Aunt Cathy to be at Granny and Papa’s. I told Mama she hustled me out to the car and up the road we went in a pouring down rain. I should have suspected something because Mama was acting entirely too calm for anything to be gravely amiss.

We turned onto Weathers Circle, and I saw Daddy’s black Chevy truck, Papa’s slate blue Comet station wagon, Granny’s blue Ford LTD, Cathy’s gold Oldsmobile, and a white Mustang.  We pulled in and I tore into the house expecting to find everything in a state of panic with Granny or Papa on the floor and Daddy or Cathy huddled over them. Instead, everyone was sitting down smiling. I was so confused. Then Daddy said, “So, boy, how do you like your car?”

Okay, I may have been second in my class of 399, but I could be a mite slow on the uptake.

I asked him, “What car?”

He said, “The Mustang you passed on your way in here.”

Epiphany! I turned to see Mama smiling too. She HAD known. She and Daddy talked and she’d agreed to pay my insurance if Daddy bought the car. I couldn’t stop shaking as I walked to the driveway oblivious to the fact that I was getting wet. It could have been raining flaming camel dung and I wouldn’t have noticed. This white, four wheeled goddess was my car. I had just vaulted to the tiptop of the pecking order among my friends. All the other first cars I’d seen were rattletrap jalopies one good pothole away from the junkyard while I had a barely used Mustang with the carpet still damp from the car lot detailing job.

I got behind the wheel as Aunt Cathy climbed in the passenger seat. Daddy passed me the keys with two words and a smile, “Be careful.” That moment was the happiest I’ve ever seen Daddy. He looked childishly happy and since I wasn’t used to him or Mama looking happy it shocked me a little. I never saw Daddy happier until the day Nick tossed a bib embroidered with “Grandpa” in Daddy’s lap thereby announcing Mason’s imminent arrival.

I recovered and took Cathy around the block for the first ride in MY new car. Then Mama. Then Granny. I offered to take Daddy and Papa but they politely declined. I hugged Daddy and thanked him, but not nearly enough.

That first evening, I showed her off to my buddies then took her over to see my 15 year old girlfriend. She ooohhed and aaahhhed satisfactorily as her father, who didn’t much like me anyway, stared with murderous intent at me AND the car. All he said (growled actually) was, “Not til she’s sixteen” before going back into the house.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier before or since. I got a boss new stereo and tuned the engine just right. If I wasn’t driving her, I was waxing her. I probably changed the oil six times in the time she was mine. We had a way to go without begging a ride. Five months later, my girl turned sixteen, and we went on our first date. She was supposed to be home by ten; we pulled in the driveway at 9:45. I was terrified of her father.

Put it in fast forward for about ten months to early Tuesday afternoon, late July.

I was headed home via Fountain Inn, windows down, Sam Sham and the Pharaohs belting out “Woolly Bully” on the stereo when it occurred to me I should go see Granny and Papa.

FI is a three red light town. I was coming up on the first and saw it was red. Right then, things went all to hell.

My buddy Robby once told me I was the most intelligent person he’d ever known, but I didn’t have sense enough to get out of a rainstorm. Approaching the light, I thought, with perfect clarity, “Oh dear, I must turn left to go back to Granny and Papa’s. I cannot turn left on a red light. What shall I do? Ah ha, I see the next light is green. I can turn left on a green light and go back to Granny and Papa’s. That is what I shall do! I am so smart!”

Anybody spot the flaw in that little plan?

As the Pharaohs reached the final climactic “Woolly Bulllllyyyy” chorus, I once again proved Robby right by sailing through the red light into the path of an old decrepit jeep. I remember it happening in slow motion, looking out the window at the approaching jeep and thinking, “This is gonna hurt!”

It did.

The jeep took me in the driver’s door and knocked me across the console (cool guys don’t wear seat belts) into the passenger’s seat amidst a maelstrom of glass and metal. It seemed eerily quiet for a few seconds, then the world became one huge conglomerate of noise. I leaned up and opened the passenger door of my shattered goddess and walked towards a nearby street lamp. It had a nice wide, inviting base and seemed like a fine place to sit and reflect on what I should do next. The driver of the jeep, which was unscratched save a broken wooden bumper (that’s foreshadowing folks), walked over and said, “Man, are you okay?” I nodded.

Just then, Mr. Wofford Woods appeared in my field of vision. He and Granny Wham worked in the store connected to the street light I was now leaning against. Thankfully she was off on Tuesdays. My reflective period abruptly ended; I moved to action.

Reaching up, I took  Wofford by the jacket lapels and, with what little authority I could put into my sixteen year old crackling voice, said, “Wofford, DO NOT call Mama. I repeat DO. NOT. CALL. MY. MOTHER., and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO NOT call Granny.” Then, for the first and, to now, last time in my life, I uttered, “You call Laurens Glass Plant and GET. MY. DADDY!!”

Wofford nodded, strode off, and promptly ignored every word. I realized this when, about seven minutes after I lost sight of him, a light blue ’78 Ford LTD jumped the curb and skidded to a stop in a nova of dust, grass clumps, and broken sprinkler heads. Granny Wham leaped from the car and I knew instantly she’d be taken unawares whilst getting ready to go out because she had on her best slacks but was wrapped in her rattiest housecoat, (If you’re not from the South, you might not know what a housecoat is, but it’s ok), her curlers still in her head, AND a generous amount of pink Oil of Olay she missed with the washrag in the excitement on her face.

I made a mental note to kill Wofford.

Granny was still in her prime in those days — nary a bit bowed with age, infirmity, or indecision. She would have happily fought (and probably killed) a raging tyrannosaurus bare-handed had she felt one of her own was in danger. She hugged me to her in all out mother hen mode and started asking questions. Many, many questions I lacked the ability to answer.  I managed to reach up and gently put my finger to her lips to quiet her and ask, “Where is Papa?” She replied, indignantly, “Frank was shaving and had half his face done and refused to wash his face off and come with me before he finished! He just said, ‘Mama, he can’t be hurt very badly since he had sense enough to tell Wofford not to call you’ and went back to shaving.” Inside, I wept for Papa because Granny calling him “Frank” instead of “Daddy” was the equivalent of her or Mama using my full, three word name.

Soon after, Mama made a similar curb jumping entrance. Luckily, she had been about to go to work on second shift at the textile plant so she was fully dressed. Then the ambulance arrived and Mama talked Granny into going home to get Papa . . . and finish dressing, while Mama rode with me in the ambulance.

We got to the hospital despite nearly wrecking the ambulance and they took me into ER. Remember the wooden jeep bumper? It’s important now. The charge nurse took a pair of scissors and began to cut my jeans off. I was wearing the only pair of Guess jeans I have ever owned. They cost $50 in 1986 money. I was proud of those jeans, so I screamed out, “Don’t do that! My Ima (my other grandmother) can get any stain out of anything!”

So, the nurse said, in the tone of someone who knows something YOU do not know, “Okay, sir, go ahead and take your pants off.” Turns out, what she knew that I didn’t was I had a six inch long, four inch wide sliver of  jeep bumper sticking out of my left leg. As I pushed my pants down, I found the rest of the piece of wood — jammed against my left femur. My hand pushed the wood, the wood scraped down the bone, and I snatched the scissors away from the nurse and cut my jeans of.

I’d gotten X-rayed and scheduled to have a doctor look at me when Daddy opened the curtain, walked in and said, “Looks like I sold my boat for nothing.”

At the time, I was livid that he could speak to me like that with the day I was having. I was pissed. Ten years later, I found out Daddy had driven from Laurens at bat-out-of-hell speeds unaware if I was alive or dead. Then, when he walked into the ER, Granny Wham grabbed him and said, without fanfare or word of how I was doing, “The car is totaled and he HAS to have a car!!.” So Daddy was as mad at her as I was mad at him basically for the same reason. Wish I’d know that then.

Mama took me home about an hour later.  Two days later, Papa Wham took me to the junk yard where my goddess had been laid to rest to recover a few things. I was going to get my stereo, but when I saw the console, I gave up that idea. I started school on crutches the next week. I was out of work for three weeks and my girlfriend cheated on me with one of my co-workers. To this day, I have a massive scar on my left thigh that is all grody and sunken in. Still hurts like crap sometimes too. In my mind, I deserve it for killing my snow white goddess.

Looking back, I’m pretty sure I’ve never been as happy as I was for those ten months. I’ve had other cars. Some of them were awesome, but you never forget your first.

I guess Robert Frost said it best, “Nothing gold can stay.”

Of course, Dallas would say, “Stay gold, Pony Boy!”

All of you, stay golden too.

Love y’all and make sure to wash your feet!