Almost 40 years ago I dropped the ramp to a cattle truck on my twin sister and broke both her legs.
We were in second grade.
I re-told the story to my family over dinner Sunday night; a spin-off on the question of the night.
Our parents were re-modeling the little farmhouse where we lived, and our job was to pick up the shingles that had been torn from the roof, put them into the trash cans, and then haul the cans to the cattle truck, where dad would later drive them to the dump. On this particular afternoon, dad was working, and mom did not know the ramp to the truck was not let down. We didn't know she did not know, so when Amy told me to climb up, unhook it and just let it fall--that she would catch it, I figured it was a good plan. Let this serve as a reminder that a seven year old has not reached the age of reasoning (or accountability).
here's an unrelated picture of what the truck looked like:
I don't remember much about the actual trauma, other than sitting in the back seat of the station wagon, cradling Amy's poor crying head in my lap for the ride to the hospital, where I also remember seeing the medical staff take her into a very large, very steel and cold-looking room where they were going to x-ray her legs.
My younger brother Rich (who was four or five at the time) and I were brought home at some point, since I can only imagine that we were probably in the way, and more than my mother was able to handle at the time. I'm not really sure how the next part went down, because now that I've mothered young kids, I can't imagine leaving a seven and four or five year old at home alone in a little farmhouse at night. But there we were.
And then the phone rang.
It was mom:"Jenny! You need to make sure all the doors are locked, and that the windows are closed! There is an escaped convict running around the area somewhere!"
I don't even remember closing windows or locking doors; I just remember trembling beneath the furniture with my brother, and then a short time later, hearing strong knocks on the front door.
Are you kidding me?!?
It turned out to be a co-worker of my dad's, sent over from the police department to retrieve us from our nightmare on Elm Street.
Then we found ourselves in a little store picking out frozen treats; I got an ice cream sandwich, and Rich got one of those frozen bananas on a stick, dipped in chocolate and rolled in nuts.
Then there was the issue of my sister spending the next month or more in a humongous wheelchair that I wasn't all that thrilled about pushing around at recess, and I felt bad that her desk had to be about six feet tall to accommodate the monster chair, while her peers were all sitting at more normal, elf-sized desks.
There must have been a smidgen of post-trauma guilt on my part.