Unbelievably, we are already in the first week of May. May conjures up many memories; the supposed warm up from a nasty April, my sinuses feeling like a volcano set to blow, and trees filled with vibrant green leaves.
Picking up on the leaf theme, it’s at this time of year I think of “my tree,” a big old maple tree in my mémère’s and pépère’s yard. As many of you know, it’s from that tree I fell and mangled my left arm when I was 11 years old. Despite that, I still loved my tree, may it rest in pieces now.
I never shared the full story. I can remember the day this sap fell from the maple as if it were yesterday. It was a warm spring Saturday, and my brother and I headed outside early after wolfing down either cereal or a fried egg. That I can’t remember.
We made the long trek across the street to mem’s and pep’s yard and met up with cousins and friends for a long day of just doing things.
My best friend was already outside, leaping off the fence that separated his yard from our playground. The tree was just kissing that fence, making it the perfect launch point to hurl ourselves onto the branches and just hang with the leaves.
There was a day earlier when my pal had fallen and he ran around the yard screaming, “I broke my back, I broke my back.” He was fine. I still chuckle today at that comical scene.
It was my turn to climb the fence and soar a few feet out to the limb that ran parallel to the fence. I had done it many times. This time was different. The launch was perfect, but somehow my grip wasn’t and my fingers couldn’t bear the strain and slipped off the limb.
I remember doing a somersault in mid air (about a 10-foot drop to the lawn below) and then landing face down with a thud. Not feeling any pain, and more than a wee bit embarrassed I got up and immediately saw my left arm in a shape it should not have been. I let out a blood-curdling scream that echoed through the neighborhood.
My dad was sleeping, having worked third shift the night before. But his fatherly instincts awoke him and he knew exactly who it was.
My brother cradled my road map of an arm and led me home, and I remember asking him if my arm was going to stay like that.
He assured me it wouldn’t. Larry rushed me to St. Anne’s Hospital, which would become my home for the next five days. I had completely broken the radius and ulna between the wrist and elbow. The only good thing was that it didn’t break the skin.
I vividly recall receiving pain killing needles in my rear end, which became a pin cushion by the end of my stay at hotel St. Anne. I spent that day until October carrying around what felt like a 100-pound cast.
The arm healed completely and after time I could be a kid again. Despite that traumatic event I still love that tree and miss it, long since gone.
The sap doesn’t fall far from the maple.