Sunday, February 3, 2008

Memories of my brother ... (part one) ...

I remember being sound asleep when the telephone rang in the wee hours of the morning. My husband went downstairs -- as quickly as he could -- to answer it, hoping he could silence the thing before it woke up the rest of the family.

I had heard it ring and was in the process of incorporating a phone ringing into my current dream when my husband came back up and woke me. "You have to get up," he said. "It's about Johnny."

"Johnny!" I exclaimed. "What about Johnny?" "He's been in an accident," was the response, "and we have to go to Michigan right NOW!"

The next half hour is really almost a blur. I know we called our best friends to arrange care for our small child, packed as quickly as we could, and high-tailed it on out of there!

The year was 1966. My husband and I were both graduate students at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, plus I was teaching 1st grade. So many details needed to be taken care of, but our friends told us that they would handle everything.

We had no idea how long we might be gone. Hopefully, Johnny would recover from the accident, there might be a long recuperative term, we really didn't know what all we might be facing, but we had to be prepared for the worst. Meanwhile, we had to get to Ann Arbor as quickly as possible. We wanted to be there before my folks arrived from the Upper Peninsula (UP), which is a much longer drive, to find out Johnny's current medical condition and what the prognosis might be, and be ready to give Mom and Dad the latest update. We drove as fast as we dared.

But, when we got to the hospital, Mom was already walking towards us at a very fast pace, shaking her head from side to side. (I'm going to be paraphrasing here, because I don't remember her exact words.) "He's 'gone'." "We didn't 'make it' in time."

"In time for what?" I can remember thinking, along with, "However did you get here before we did??" The "He's gone" I understood completely.

My mother 'knew' (I guess) than Johnny wasn't going to make it, and had wanted to get to Ann Arbor before he passed. She wanted to hold him in her arms one last time and tell him how much she loved him. She wanted to touch him while he was still warm. At the time, that seemed terribly grotesque to me. Now, however, many years later, I 'almost' understand it.

Hours later, we drove back to Munising in two cars, hubby and I driving each with Mom and Dad as passengers. It was dark, and I was trying to be extra careful. I don't know how many of you have driven in deer country, but they will spring out at you at the most inopportune times!

I was driving, and Mom was sitting in the passenger seat beside me, seatbelt unfastened, pouring herself yet another drink (She never drank, but was drinking this day!), when ...

... a pretty good-sized doe sprang onto the road immediately in front of us! I tapped tapped tapped the brakes as hard as I could w/o throwing Mother into the windshield. I really didn't see any way to avoid hitting this beautiful creature, but I did want to alert the other two members of my family who were immediately behind us that something was wrong!

Well, we did hit the doe. Mother was distraught, I was distraught, hubby and Dad were running up to see what had happened. We all exited our vehicles to inspect the damage.

Doe, while all this was going on, was just lying quietly there on the highway.

Then, after a few minutes, doe discovered that she was still breathing, could still move, got up and disappeared (running!) into the woods from whence she'd come.

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