Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

On Bended Knee

"They're funny things, Accidents. You never have them till you're having them."
-From Winnie the Pooh

When I was five- I had barely begun my schooldays- I went out visiting with Mater and my brother to see some relatives who lived locally.
At the end of the afternoon my brother and I climbed into the back of the car and prepared to go home.
We buckled up our seatbelts. I remember that I was clutching a chocolate caramel bar called a Chomp which at that time cost a mighty ten pence.
As Mater began to cruise slowly out of the driveway I perceived that there was something a little odd about my right knee. It had a muddy partial footprint on it, and there was a considerably deep hole underneath.
My knee was bent; the hole enlarged some more. I felt no pain but I had the distinct impression that I ought to send out some sort of a warning signal. I could see the bone at that point and I leaned forward and tapped Mater lightly on the shoulder.
"I have a hole in my knee," said I quietly.
A word to the wise: the softly-softly approach only serves to undermine the urgency of such a situation. My lack of noise led Mater to believe that I was wholly exaggerating.
That is why she retorted without looking back, "be quiet and stop whinging."
I did not know what else to do. I put my hand over my knee, but the damage was winking at me. I was wearing a red dress and I tried to pull the material over the yawning wound so that I would not have to look at it. There was no blood. It did not hurt. But it was still rather disturbing.
I made another effort.
"I do have a hole in my leg. It's getting bigger."
Mater sighed once, a long and exhausted exhalation, and kept driving, bumping along the rickety roads.
I knew that the journey home was not terribly long so I gave up and hoped Mater would not stop for milk and eggs and cabbage and butter and bread and tea and sugar on the way.
I handed my brother the melting Chomp.
"You can have this," I said feebly. I had gone right off the idea. He took the chocolate bar and munched it happily, engrossed in a comic and not at all attentive to the low whining of his travelling companion and sister.
We reached home. I insisted that I could not get out of the car. Mater pulled open the door and made me get out.
She took one look at my leg, at my half-indignant 'well-I-told-you-so' expression, threw me back into the car almost as speedily as my brother had accepted the chocolate bar, roared the car into action and sped to the nearby doctor's surgery where he stitched me up and left me with the souvenir of a one-inch scar on my knee that remains to this day. I missed about one week of school, which at that time felt like an eternity, and I joined Mater at her workplace every day because of my inability to walk.
We suspect that a broken ashtray, of the plastic kind that typically used to be attached to the inside of a car door, had slashed my knee when the door was closed. How that went unnoticed at the time is a riddle and where the mystifying footprint came from no soul will ever know.
I say, poor Mater. For she still bears that knowledge and guilt and of course my bringing it up time and again- such as today- cannot help. It being, however, a significant moment in my life, I tend to ponder it aimlessly.
In her defence, she claims that I did not cry. Had I simply shed a tear or two, my mother says, she might have been alarmed enough to take me seriously.
In my defence, I suggest that any child who offers a chocolate bar to her brother in exchange for nothing is in actual fact sending out a high-level signal of the most exigent order.
We all make mistakes, of course, but dear Mater has had to live with hers for a considerable length of time.


Barb said...

Oh my - what a sad story. You were such a brave little girl sitting there with that "hole" in your knee.

Having said that tho' I just love all the childish stories you bring to mind and share with us all.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Barb, it really didn't hurt at all and I've always been calm like that :) That's what made Mater think there was nothing wrong.
It's strange what you can pull up from your childhood and look at in a fresh way. I'm glad to know you enjoy them as I like telling them.

mermaid said...

'In my defence, I suggest that any child who offers a chocolate bar to her brother in exchange for nothing is in actual fact sending out a high-level signal of the most exigent order.'

I know this is supposed to be serious, but I cannot help laughing. There is such subtle humor throughout this, and the fact that you tolerated the pain so well makes me want to laugh instead of cry with you:)

polona said...

oh my, what a disturbing story but told in such a charming way that it made me smile.

tangobaby said...

You were such an incredible little girl! I am picturing you sitting so quietly with your Chomp and looking at the hole in your knee.

Bless your sweetness.

You can even make a serious story like this darling and funny.

I remember when I was three or four, a broom fell out of the closet and bonked me on the nose, which started a nosebleed.

I had never had a nosebleed before, and did not possess your quiet dignity in the face of adversity. I thought I was dying.

I ran in terror to my mother who calmly said, "Oh, that's just blood. Everyone has blood in the inside of their body. Unfortunately, yours is coming out."

I still remember that "tip" to this day. I doubt I thought it was funny at the time, but I do now. Perhaps all moms have this streak in them.

I hope your knee is all better. I am going to see if I can buy a Chomp at the store that sells European chocolate bars.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Mermaid, it's fine, you can laugh ;) I'm laughing now. I just wish Mater could see it as I do. I put off telling this for so long for that reason- she is sensitive about it.

Polona, thanks, it made me squirm a bit to write it but hopefully it's got more charm than disturbance :)

Tangobaby, oh my goodness:
You inspired me to look it up. I would have never thought to do that. Look at the price!!
:) What a story- your poor nose. I'm sure your mother knew what she was doing, she just didn't think her comment would bother you so much. Perhaps it was her way of calming herself too, to be logical and matter-of-fact about it. I'm going to remember that line for a long while... "...Unfortunately, yours is coming out." Nice one.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

what a tale! oh my.... hope the scar is the only thing that remains of this most disturbing event! (well there is the issue of mater's guilt, but that's her issue, not yours)

I have heard of people who do not experience pain, I'm expect however, that you are not someone who does not not experience pain, rather this was a odd set of circumstances.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Kimy, I've missed you round and about :)
Yes, the scar, while a large one, is the only remnant. Also I never quite liked Chomps much after that.
Mater insists I didn't make enough noise. Not even when the doctor gave me a tetanus shot, nor when he stitched me up. One of those days I guess ;)
I think because it was on the kneecap, and on the bone, that there wasn't enough... flesh... to cause pain. I was lucky, I suppose. It was odd though. We're only guessing at the ashtray part because it was broken and so was I... deductive reasoning. But I wonder...

mouse (aka kimy) said...

ah I hate falling behind on visiting my favorite spots and spending some time with my blogging buds - but sometimes life gets way busy....I was on the road, then once I was back I found I had two research/writing jobs with pressing deadlines - as of tonight....have other projects on the board, but luckily nothing that demands as quick turn around as these two did... but fortunate I did catch up on crumbs.... other friends still to hit....


Jaime said...

"I have a hole in my knee" you said quietly.
I don't know whether to laugh or to cry! That is so so sweet.

I don't know if I could have given up my chocolate, no matter how wounded I was!

I was an accident prone child and can relate to this story. I was sent to the hospital to get stitches I don't know how many times...and you are so right. It usually doesn't really hurt!
But a paper cut? Killer.

Pappy said...

The and the hole in her knee, a footprint, a mystery, a stitch or three, Mater's misery, the chocolate sharing is the key, no shrinking violet she, her brother's glee and lack of sympathy, the doctors fee, provide the plot so elementary for this youthful documentary.

Anonymous said...

Another example of how life is stranger than fiction. Funny what weird and interesting things actually happen to us in the course of daily events.

Shows how important it is to write memories down. Once you start others come flooding back, some good, some bad, but all part of creating our make-up.

Thanks for sharing with us.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Kimy, I fall behind too- it's been hot these last few days and I've been avoiding the computer as this room gets the hottest. I try to economise on my computer use and then of course fall a bit behind in things. And of course life goes on too! So I understand. I'm glad you popped in though ;)

Jaime, I didn't want to alarm Mater, the poor thing had to drive of course and navigate those cow traffic-jam roads :) I really felt too queasy to eat the chocolate, especially as it was melting. And why does a paper cut hurt so much more than a gash to the bone? I don't understand it...

Texican, I had to read this twice. That was brilliant. Almost like a synopsis fit for my profile page! How funny. Except one thing- the doctor didn't charge anything. It was all free :)

Steve, Yes, I love too how it works, the cycle of thinking of one little thing and it leading to other stories. One word or a smell or a completely different story and you might suddenly think of something from way back. And I agree completely, it's best to carry a little notebook and jot down seemingly unimportant things that come to mind. An extension, I think, of your recent excellent post on books, writing and how to get the best information from them.

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