I could spend hours in my room with the stereo cranked to a decibel level high enough to shatter the drinking-glass Gramps kept his teeth in—and when I say he kept his teeth in there, I mean he never took them out. Not to eat, not to clean, not for pictures, nothing. However, that might not have been so odd if he never asked me to fetch them from the kitchen where they sat next to the toaster… smiling. And so, I fetched them only to set them by his plate, where he would stare at them while he ate his supper. Now, as strange as his behavior seemed it’s not really what I wanted to talk about.
Usually, I was relegated to wearing my headphones and turned the volume up on my stereo (yes, stereo) laid on my bed and let the Boss’s (that’s Bruce Springsteen to those of you living under a rock ‘lo these many decades) scratchy, husky voice take me away. Ahhh, sweet bliss.
On one particular Saturday afternoon everyone in the family went their separate ways. Mumsie and Sister went shopping; Brother finally managed to make friends with little irritants just like him, which meant I no longer had a 10 year old trailing around after me–and Dad decided to make use of the compact riding tiller to turn over the dirt in the back yard garden. This was a project I always looked on with two parts anticipation and dread, as it wasn’t anywhere near the modest gardens our neighbors kept. There were rows of tomatoes, cucumbers, spring onions, kohlrabi, carrots, mint, as well as, green beans and pea trellises. He even had a row of catnip for Shadow, our elusive, and–now I realize–continually high, cat. As much as I loved reaping the benefits, I absolutely loathed watering the friggin’ thing! Every day after school—growing arthritis in my thumb because that’s how you get the water to spray a wide arc; by holding it over the opening of the garden hose.
At any rate, Dad cranked up the tiller climbed into the enclosed cab and started on the soil. The motor was pretty loud and the garden large enough that I guessed Dad would be at it for quite awhile. I couldn’t pass up the chance to lose the headphones for a change and crank up Springsteen, since the possibility of Dad hearing the music was slim to none. Little did I know the events to unfold, and if it hadn’t been for the two old biddies that walked the neighborhood like it was a paying job—coming to Dad’s aid, he might have been seriously injured, or worse, dead.
Unbeknownst to me, he finished earlier than anticipated and was driving the tiller down the steep side yard near the road when he tipped over. Before he could jump free, he went over with the hefty piece of machinery and smacked his head on the only rock within acres of lawn. As it happened, he bit it right outside my bedroom window and the poor man tried calling out to me for a good five, okay, maybe ten minutes. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hear him over the music.
But hey, don’t blame me!
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