Communication...

...I was sitting here searching through the family archive of photographs and I ran across some doozies.. I was originally looking for a snapshot for Yabu.. ideally, one that my Pa had taken of a napalm strike near Phu Loc back in 68... I figured it'd be right up Yabu's alley.. but, dammit, I couldn't find it... I'll look again tomorrow...

... what I found instead were a few pics of the first time I nearly had dinner with the Grim Reaper...

... I was sixteen years old and had only gotten my license a few months previously... it was late October, 1989... my sainted Mother was laid up at the UT Medical Center in Knoxville with blood clots in her lungs following some shady back surgery... flat on her back and feeling like death warmed over... my Father had organized for my little brother and I to stay the night with my Uncle Jim and his family while he went up to hand-hold Momma...

... I stopped in Englewood and gassed up the car... and a fine specimen it was for a geeky kid like me... a 1988 Chevrolet Celebrity... man, I thought I was The Man when I zipped around the country roads at the bracing clip of 45 miles per hour...

... but upon pulling away from the Red's Gulf station, I gave it a little more pedal than I normally did... and with my little brother in the seat beside me grinning like a wildman, off we thundered up highway 411 towards Madisonville and the Hiwassee countryside...

... my brother and I made excellent time and arrived at my Uncle's house to find no one home from work yet.... hatching a plan, we decided to motor back out about five miles to town... pick up a video, and be back before anyone even knew we were gone...

... "Major League" was our purchase.... it had just been pressed out on video a few weeks before, and we both loved it... hell, I still love that movie.... anyway, we picked up the flick and headed back out into the country...

.... and this is where the trip got interesting...

... first off, let me just say that I was driving too fast... probably 65mph or so.... and the wreck was entirely my fault.... and I have no excuse other than just wanting the thrill of topping those country hills at high-speed.... so there... I admit it....

... anyway, I was zipping along and caught some air as I went over the hill.... a local woman was tending to one of the graves there and had parked on the leeward side right in the middle of the road... big, black Ford F-150... needless to say, panic fucking ensued.... so as soon as I hit the asphalt, I jerked the wheel and hit the ditch on the right...

... for some reason, I didn't even have time to hit the brakes... I cleaned out the ditchrow for sixty feet or more with my right front and rear tires... and then I hit a rock... well, I guess it was a rock... something in the ditch broke off my right front wheel and tossed me back into the middle of the road....

... this was actually a bad thing... see, while I was trying to get out of the ditch, I had cut my tires all the way to the left... so when I was unceremoniously placed back on terra firma, my tires were at such an angle that I immediately cut across the road and hit the embankment on the left... which was about ten feet high...

... I was probably still doing sixty when I hit the hillside's upward slope.... I actually remember feeling dirt hit my face just before feeling like I was falling.... and then smelling freshly-struck flintrock sparks as the car slammed down from its spiral arc...

... what had actually happened was that I had hit the bank, ripped most of the trunk off, slammed my brother into the windscreen (he didn't have his seatbelt on), climbed the bank, and then climbed halfway up an ancient cedar tree at the top of the embankment, launched the spiraling car another forty feet, and landed it on the driver's side post-portion of the roof....

... the post collapsed and bashed me in the noggin... pressing me back into the seat with such force that my shoulders actually bent the frame.. I had my seat belt on, so I was lucky... my little brother got dinged up pretty good.... he was bleeding from his forehead, nose, and chin... and his bottom teeth had gone through his bottom lip - creating an inch-long wound.... he was a messy little twelve-year old, that's for sure... I was mortified when I saw him after the car stopped sliding at the bottom of the hill.... it was upturned and facing back the direction from which we had been coming.... I'll never forget seeing him lying unconscious and bleeding and covered in autumn leaves and twigs.... in a way, it almost looked at first like the car was resting on top of him....

.... 327 feet... from my first skid mark to where we finally rested... 327 feet.... we were lucky to be alive... and that little grey Celebrity was torn all to HELL....

... anyway, he regained consciousness in the ambulance halfway to Sweetwater hospital... immediately complaining of back pain, the paramedics feared the worst... and no matter how much he complained or cried, there was no way that those heroes were going to unhitch him from that backboard....

... as it turned out, he was alright.... see, he had been wearing jogging pants.. and when I dragged his unconscious body out of the back window, the elastic of his waist-band had scooped up about five pounds of broken glass... the poor little guy.... he spent four hours strapped to a backboard while that broken glass ate away at the cheeks of his lily-white tush... oh yeah, we still laugh about that today...

... the worst part about the whole tale concerns a lack of communication... or a miscommunication...

... upon arriving in Knoxville (an hour away from our humble home) my Dad was greeted with a phonecall from my Aunt... knowing that my Mother was deathly ill just feet away, she kept the message short and sweet...

... "I am so sorry... there has been an accident... Eric and Josh have had a car wreck.... Josh is alright, we think, but he may have some spinal damage... we just don't know yet... you stay there and take care of Sis... I will call you as soon as I know more... "...

... that was it... that was the message... no mention of me being well.... so naturally, my Father assumed that I had been killed...

... so he walks over to his chair and sits down.... fearing the worst for Joshua and grieving for me at the same time... and knowing that he can't tell my Mother for fear of killing her too...

... people, I cannot even imagine what it must have been like for him... those fifteen to twenty minutes of him holding on to the worst news he could possibly give a Mother... and how he must have felt in his own heart at losing his first son.... it shakes me to my core to even BEGIN to think of how inconsolable he must have felt.... how hopeless and helpless....

... but as luck would have it, another Aunt called them with an update... and told them that I was fine...

... the next morning my Mother insisted that they drive us, beaten and battered, all the way up to Knoxville so she could scope out the damage for herself... even if she WAS laying in a hospital bed herself.....

... you know, I had almost forgotten about that little wreck until today.... with no great injuries, it is easy to forget.... but after seeing those photos again, I am reminded again of how beautiful it is to have family... my Dad is gone now, of course... but my ole Momma is still around....

... us kids... good Lord... all of us..... we have no idea how much we tweak the hearts of our parents... even when we are sixty-five, if they are still around, they'll still be worrying and fussing over us... and we'll still be frightening the shit out of them... or breaking their hearts... or making them remember us as slobbering babies who needed a diaper changed or a good swat on the behind....

... it is the nature of things... and it is good.... but tomorrow, dammit, I'm finding that napalm picture....

... anyway, here are the photos I found this afternoon....

wreck_1_small.jpg

wreck_2_small.jpg

wreck_3_small.jpg

wreck_4_small.jpg

... messed that Celebrity UP, people.... but it was just a car... and cars can be replaced...

by Eric on July 24, 2006 | Bullshit (18) | TrackBack (0) | SWG Stories
Bullshit So Far

Aright, man, you win. I've come head on with both an '87 Le Sabre (Sherman friggin' tank) and a Peterblilt in a skid, but ain't nothin i've ever done left one like that.

Glad you're still around from that one, and a good reminder to call the Ma tomorrow.

:-D

Bullshitted by tommy on July 24, 2006 10:50 PM

Jeebus.

You know, they have car rollover competitions on ESPN late at night. I think you could jump straight to the major leagues.

Bullshitted by Another Tommy on July 25, 2006 12:02 AM

My Grandfather started one of the first towing companies in Seattle (1940's), and from there he became an accident photographer for the state patrol. Later, my Dad took over as photog through the early 80's.

He always told me of the day his Dad plopped down a photo of a decapitated guy who had been run over by a train. My Dad was having breakfast....Cheerios....at the time.

When I was much younger, I used to go with my Dad to the accident scenes. I'd sit in the car and listen to music while he took pictures.

When I learned to drive, he would show me pictures of wrecks that involved the type of car I was driving at the time.

I'm not sure if this family history has helped us much. My 69 year old Dad, still drives at the speed of sound in his Corvette, and I'm right behind him with my BMW. Go figure!

Bullshitted by DogsDontPurr on July 25, 2006 12:09 AM

Eric,
Wow. That was quite a wreck. I've been in a few myself. It's terrible for the family members too, waiting and wondering. You're very lucky.

Bullshitted by Jerry on July 25, 2006 01:54 AM

Holy shit, man!!! I wish I had some photos of the one I almost cut in half when I was 16.

Bullshitted by Yabu on July 25, 2006 06:25 AM

Well I am glad everything turned out alright - that car WAS messed up. I have two male teenagers (eldest is 17 and getting his licence THIS WEEK) and you got it right, brother:
"we have no idea how much we tweak the hearts of our parents"

Bullshitted by Lisa W. on July 25, 2006 06:36 AM

glad you lived, bro. great account of the details. i blocked out all mine out. too painful starring as the family fuck up. i admit nothing.

Bullshitted by shoe on July 25, 2006 06:37 AM

Good Gawd, Eric. Scary shit, bruthuh.

"but it was just a car... and cars can be replaced..."

True, dat.

Bullshitted by Elisson on July 25, 2006 08:21 AM

Shit, man... when you do it, you do it up right.

I can't even begin to imagine what your pa felt. I had to call a friend's father from the emergency room once. (The friend was alright, just needed a bunch of stitches over his eye.) I was enduring a bout of nervous laughter at the time, and I don't know for sure what I said, but I set that guy off... a miscommunication if ever there was one. Took me five minutes to get the story out so that he knew nothing serious happened. He was pissed at me for a long time.

I suspect that I damn near gave him a heart attack...

Bullshitted by that 1 guy on July 25, 2006 08:39 AM

I'm still trying to pick my jaw up off my keyboard..........

Bullshitted by Maeve on July 25, 2006 09:09 AM

I musta been born a guy. I've a wreck story or two myself. But no pictures. I tore the entire front end off a 1990 Pontiac Sunbird, I ended up in a tree on a dirt bike, I flipped end over end on a dune buggy and I've hit my share of guard rails. Damn . . . I shoulda taken pictures!

Bullshitted by oddybobo on July 25, 2006 09:20 AM

That must have been a wild ride. I've had a couple of those myself and they're not much fun. Good thing no one was killed.

Bullshitted by Dash on July 25, 2006 11:11 AM

Yep, you smashed that one up pretty good. I have either been lucky or else a pretty good defensive driver. I have at least 3,000,000 miles under the wheel and have yet to get invloved in anything but a couple fender benders when people run into me..one time at a damn stop sign and I was stopped. SHould have run the sumbitch it would have been safer.

Bullshitted by GUYK on July 25, 2006 11:23 AM

Good God. Your Dad. Holy crap. I cannot even imagine.

And I just did a post on how Bones has eaten up 3 of his 9 lives. That wreck right there probably cost you 8. You're one lucky guy.

Bullshitted by Bou on July 25, 2006 12:00 PM

"us kids...good lord...all of us,,,we have no idea how much we tweak the hearts of our parents" Actually, we know exactly how our parents feel if we have children of our own. The really BIG worries begin when they get that driver's license. My son is 20 and my oldest daughter is 18, and I swear I am constantly thinking about horrible car wrecks with my kids tangled up in metal. I live near Norris, right outside Knoxville, and I can tell you those big trucks whizzing along I-75 and I-40 need to be outlawed cause I'm thinking they are a direct threat to me and mine.

Bullshitted by Teresa on July 25, 2006 04:03 PM

Great story SWG. Thanks for sharing. I fortunately have had similar experience, especially the ditch to opposite side of the road, while doing 360 degree turn at high speed. Definately not something I could live through again...

Bullshitted by ralphd00d on July 25, 2006 05:31 PM

Jesus H. Christ, man.You're lucky your sorry ass is alive.

For my part (knock wood), all my accidents have occured while I was driving in reverse. Hell, there's probably a blog entry there somewhere.

Bullshitted by Jim - PRS on July 25, 2006 07:34 PM

That's scary as hell just reading about it. Glad you both made it out okay.

Bullshitted by zonker on July 25, 2006 08:08 PM