Friday, October 28, 2011

Summer Vacation 6

Boy, 12, Rolls, Falls 600 Feet

What I did on my Summer Vacation
By David L. Green
Part VI

After a week in the hospital my father decided it was time to go home. I suppose he had to get back to work and the thought of mounting medical costs was part of that decision. Even though the doctors said I should stay another week under the watchful eyes of medical professionals, my father had made up his mind. It seemed he couldn’t wait to put a lot of distance between us and Mohegan hollow as quickly as possible.
As luck would have it, the station wagon made a convenient transport for a patient who could not sit up. I could, however, roll, being at this point an oblong bowling ball.
So he figured that if I had a pillow on either side of me, I was good to go.  And, so, being loaded, padded and stuffed, the rest of the family jumped in and we began a long, torturous, 12-hour journey back to Orlando.
I don’t remember much of the trip as I was being held captive in la-la land by some pretty heavy pain killers. But Dad told me later that he would drive as long as he could before he was forced to stop for much needed sleep and, sure enough, shortly, I would wake up and groan in pain. They would feed me another pain pill and it was back on the road again.
Back home in Orlando I took up residence in my own bed where I stayed, pretty much, the rest of the summer.
Mom was working as a nurse for an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jack Gresham. He was also a member of our church and we had known him and his family for many years.
Dr. Gresham would take time out of his very busy schedule to come over and check on me. He would give me the shots and medicine I needed and would make sure I was recovering as I should.
Friends, neighbors, and church members would stop by to check on me and bring food or cards and well wishes. It is during these times that we learn to really appreciate the extended family.
I received a call one day from the writer/reporter, Charlie Reese, of the Orlando Sentinel’s “Hush Puppies” column. The interview, done over the phone, resulted in an article whose title I stole for the story you are now reading. Charlie called back several times to follow up on my recovery. And, I believe, wrote a follow-up article about that.
My Jr. High school coach took full credit for my survival. It was, after all, because of the ‘great physical condition’ that I was in at the time of the accident that made it all possible. I was, in all fairness, probably in the best shape of my life and was looking forward to starting my ‘career’ with the school’s football team the following year. The last thing Coach Vernon Gross told me as he said goodbye for the summer was to "keep up the good work over the summer and come back ready to play football."
Well, sorry coach. That just didn’t work out. The cast was removed only two days before school started. I was still getting used to being vertical and sitting in chairs. Those first few months were a challenge to say the least.  Instead of starting on the football team, my parents were told that I had to protect my back at all costs. If I were to break my back again, I may be crippled the rest of my life.
So, instead, I spent that class time working in the library every day. And I was good at it and I learned a lot of things that have stayed with me to this day.
I did make up for my inability to participate in ‘contact sports’ by lettering in Track and Field two years in a row. I can still remember what a big deal Coach Gross made of it as he presented my first Letter and the standing ovation I received from the student body as I walked across that stage.
 I didn’t become the big football star I had dreamed about. I didn’t get to do a lot of things that my friends got to do. But I did get to wear a letterman’s sweater that I earned. I did play the guitar and piano – not very well, mind you, but I did.
I learned to appreciate my family and friends as well as my faith and I learned that faith can get you through a lot of things that nothing else can.
I learned that I still enjoy fireworks but I am very leery of standing close to the edge of high places and of taking dares even from people I know and love. And if I have one regret … you know, they told me that when they set off that firecracker, it echoed through that valley for 10 minutes. I would have loved to hear that.
The End

End notes: I have just found the articles mentioned above and there are some changes I must include here; First the title came from an article in the local Welch, W. Va. newspaper and 2nd, the reporter in the Orlando Sentinel was Charlie Wadsworth . Sorry about that Mr. Wadsworth and thank you for recording my story.


  1. I LOVED this story David! Nicely told and very intesting!

  2. Holy Moly! I just went back and read it from the beginning! What an amazing and gripping story! Thank GOD (cause He is the one that was in charge!) that you are alive and well. I will forever look at you with MUCH more appreciation, my friend!