Finger Injury and A Philosophy of Mishaps

P1030734Yesterday morning, I was wrestling my son when, as I was about to call it a wrap, he kneed me in a flash that remains a blur and my left finger burned tortuously. I know the neighbors heard me scream. At the risk of downplaying or demystifying the initiation into motherhood called birthing, I have to say it hurt more than it did bringing Tennyson into the world drug-free. I didn’t scream like that then. When I was able to open my eyes and uncurl from the fetal position yesterday, I saw blood had pooled instantly at the base of the nail. I won’t belabor the pain, the swelling, what the lack of circulation did to the hand but after a day at the doctor’s and X-Ray at Urgent Care, I learned the finger’s not broken. Just a very bad sprain that will take up to six weeks.

Those who’ve been following me a while should not be surprised that I’d like to take the occasion to contemplate a philosophy of mishaps.

Two voices have been trying to talk over one another in my head. Yesterday, I was everything from frustrated to worried and angry. Mostly frustrated. What is it about me that attracts accidents and physical impediments? Sheer, simple clumsiness? If you missed the Car Accident – in the Garage tale, here it is. Some hopes and plans for the upcoming months are now delayed. So disappointing that I must wait until I’m whole again. But the steady murmur that usually accompanies me won out today: on what gumption do I wake every morning expecting the day to unfurl my way like a red carpet? I often carry the awareness that everything can change any moment. A drunk behind the wheel can wipe out my family or some freak circumstance leave my son fatherless in less time than it takes to order take-out. I am not in control. So even through rough days, I live in the preciousness of the moment and gratitude for everything I have, all gifts.

P1030739I want to grumble. It’ll serve me well to lay off the typing for a bit – another displeasure, as I can’t not write for long. My piano finger! In keeping with the broad definition of ambidexterity, I favor my left for a lot of tasks. The most unpalatable part has been having to slow down the mad speed that I rush toward one thing to the next with. The dishes, the showering, the doing everything with 1.25 hands. But this too, shall pass. I’ll take it – over something permanent or chemo.

There really wasn’t a choice: I had to cut loose the pair of wedding rings. They had choked off the blood supply and were bottlenecking the finger that only kept ballooning. Peter had realized something had to be done about the rings or the finger – he was supportive, though bummed. I was SAD when they were cut apart in Urgent Care!

Nine years since the engagement, and my finger’s naked again. Honey, when I’m healed, I’ll need a new ring.


Car Accident – in the Garage

I am mechanically challenged. My verbal cortex is thick with extra neurons but the piece of brain that commands gadgets and buttons is missing. For the tactual ineptitude, I really don’t belong behind the wheel. It’s a good thing we share words, not car lanes because I’m the driver you’ll give the finger, a human road hazard – even when I’m just trying to get on the road.

One unforgettable day, I jumped into the minivan and pulled out of the garage with Tennyson in the backseat.  !@#%^! I heard. Strange.  What in the world was that noise?

Ohhh shoot. My gut dropped.

I thought I’d opened the garage door all the way. I had left it partly open earlier that day and, seeing the house across us in the rearview before taking off, forgot the upper part of the door was still down, hanging. In dread I stumbled out to appraise the situation. Of course the rear of the Sienna had dented and cracked into the door.  This did not look good. “Sorry, Sweetie. We’re not picking up our friends. We’re not going anywhere.” Our plans, the whole day, had turned the tide in the bat of an eye.

For some dumbfounding reason, and dumb is the word, I went ahead to try to lower the door back down. I pulled the car forward again, to the most foreboding sound of wood groaning and snapping. It was when I hit that remote on the wall to slide the door to the ground that I compounded the damage beyond words. Down indeed it came.

The whole door just started coming undone, metal crushing, wood bursting. You know when comedy actors on TV hunch over, palms shielding face, blinking in starts while jerking to the staccato of something big falling apart? The audience laughs at the destruction of their property or whatever catastrophe it is that’s befallen. Well, this was no sitcom and it was no act when I rattled in just that way. As I whacked away frantically at the remote, trying to freeze the door, I cringed at the cry of its umbrage. All our innocent threshold keeper had wanted was to be left alone until the man of the house who is so good with his hands came to its rescue. The four sectionals violently unglued, and collapsed. The servant that had served us faithfully looked nothing like it did in its untouched working order.  It didn’t expire from natural causes. It was murdered.

garage_doorI’d really done it this time. My friend’s daughter, then 16, came to play with Tennyson while I went on the hunt for garage door repair companies. I was so flustered she grabbed my hands and prayed it would all work out affordably.

Our next door neighbor dropped by, asked if I was okay.  I am not sure if he was impressed or stunned by the debacle.  From the sight of it all, he worried something terrible had happened and that I was hurt.  He and Peter (and everyone else who beheld my workmanship) did not see how it would be redeemable.  We needed a new door.  We were looking at $1000.

No one was more upset than, you got it, Husband.  He labored for hours into the cold night trying to do something.  Another neighbor offered to send his dog over for a sleepover in the garage, to guard against night intruders, as we were left without security.  Late that night Husband shared a miracle he’d discovered in the tussle with wreckage. The skill of leveling out metal that he had been honing in the process of building steel drums (musical instruments) turned out to be what he needed to restore enough of the door to keep us safe that night.  Practice with the golden hammer had familiarized him on how metal behaves and needs to be struck, so that he was able to smooth out the panels that had separated and go on to piece most of them back. With a friend’s help the next day, he not only refaced the door cosmetically but got it working tenuously before a professional repairman sealed the job after the weekend. The view from the street was a most unassuming one. Our door was resurrected.

Among some women who were over Friday night, the pastor’s wife quipped that God had been preparing my husband all year to deal with this. A mom walked in breathless: “I saw the picture!”  Was I all right?  The mister had Facebooked it.  Not to air frustration, as I thought, but poor dear man, to fish for a good local repair service.

Wanting to show you my handiwork from that heart-stopping day, I asked him if he could dredge up the photo of the wrecked door he’d posted. He answered, “Why?  Did you run through it again?”  It’s a simple reflex equation for him. The association of wife and anything garage equals trouble.

So this retelling is as much about my hero who goes around the house fixing everything I break, as it is about my finesse in destroying things that function perfectly well. But you’ll recognize a subterranean message meant to comfort you. This is by far one of the stupidest things I’ve pulled off, that anyone ever has. And there have been needed moments since, in the exasperated impatience at my boy over the inconvenience of his mishaps, the Door would resurface in memory to silence me.  My husband did not raise his voice that day. He ate a lot of stress, caught a cold from the sharp autumn night the defenseless garage had ushered in, lost good time and money.  And continues to give me grace. I sound my grateful acknowledgment on the highways of cyberspace: Honey, your expensive wife loves you.  hammerhead