Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Breaking Free

In eighth grade, we had Physical Education at the end of the day.  Mr. McIntyre was my PE instructor.  He was my PE instructor throughout my primary entire education, actually.  Well, towards the end of the school year, we were playing softball, and I was playing shortstop, and there was a popup in shallow centerfield.  I drifted back and called it, but Oliver Krug did not hear me and crashed into my leg, breaking my femur cleanly in two piece.  I heard the crack.  I yelled some obscenities, at the top of my young lungs, and attracted hundreds of school kids to the windows of the school.  I did still catch the ball, I must say, which was the final out of the game.

Plump, with cast and T-Rex arm...
Mr. McIntyre came to help me up, and I told him that it was broken, and in classic PE teacher stereotype, he must have said something like, "ah, it's just a scratch", or, "toughen up, Yonker!", or, "broken?  I'll show you broken, now get up!" And, he proceeded to pick me up and let me stand on my two legs, one broken, without support.  My right leg, the broken one, bent in the direction that legs are not meant to bend, and, once again, I yelled those same obscenities, at some higher peak of my lungs that I did not realize, just moments earlier, that I could reach, and attracted hundreds of kids back to the windows of the school, all trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

It actually took me 24 hours to convince anyone that my leg was indeed broken.  Apparently, I cried wolf a lot in my younger years, but once I did, they straightened my leg which had atrophied, wrapped me in a waterproof cast and sent me on my way with crutches.  It was the single most important event in my life that helped me to gain my independence.

You see, I was, and likely always will be, a momma's boy.  I was the youngest.  Always picked on (never a pest, of course).  Only in retrospect, do I realize what a royal pain the arse I was to my mother those early years, but something about that extra challenge of dealing with a cast at the end of school and that summer focused me to do it my damn self!

I learned how to flip off the diving board, with my cast on.  Everyone signed my cast at school.  I walked miles with my crutches, refusing rides from my mom.  I also did not bathe and dry the cast according to Dr. Bartolett's instructions, actually, and when they removed it, I remember my brother's horror at the shriveled, smelly horror that my leg had become.  Either way, it was one of the best summers I have ever had.

Challenges can bring out the best in us or the worst in us.  Keeping an even keel and focus is key to making great decisions in times of need, and perseverance can help to surmount almost any obstacle.  It helps to be stubborn, as well.

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