When I was a child, I watched Twilight Zone, One Step Beyond, The Outer Limits. That was back in the days when parents allowed their children to watch television programs. There were no “educational” programs. No Sesame Street, The Electric Company, none of those came to fruition yet.
I do, however, remember Captain Kangaroo, Howdy Doody, Romper Room and its “magic mirror.” I waited patiently for my name to be called from that stupid magic mirror, everyday after Kindergarten. To my dismay, “Susan” was never called.
We, the latter Baby Boomers, were stuck with messages/lessons from the artists who had pioneered television programming to children. I don’t remember any “lessons” learned from those early programs. I do recall being extremely entertained and laughing at the Warner Brothers cartoons — my favorites were Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, Sylvester and Tweety Bird… How did I (and my childhood friends) turn out to be upstanding citizens when we laughed at characters being shot or blown up but returning fully feathered and furred in the next scene? Clue: We were disciplined and knew the difference between reality and fantasy.
Fast forward a few years to what would become my mainstay television entertainment. It was in the Sci-fi realm, for I knew that “Leave it to Beaver” and “Andy Griffith” were never going to be places where my life would exist. Sci-fi sparked my imagination, and I spent many daydreams visiting non-existent places and possibilities.
The Outer Limits was most terrifying to me. Their stories went beyond the other programs. One story in particular had to do with a brain. A brain in a glass jar.
The brain was alive. It was functional/powerful. I do not remember the moral of that particular episode, other than my being terrified/afraid …. what if I was just a brain in a jar?!
As a child, this horrified me. If I were just a brain, I could not run. I could not talk. I could not ride my bike. I could not share secrets with my best friend.
Fast forward fifty-some years…
I am not the brain in the jar. I am a woman, with spinal problems, surviving breast cancer, aches and pains that surprise me every morning.
There were times, before my son’s death, that I just “gave in,” heck, cancer was gonna get me sooner or later, might as well just be a sloth and eat whatever I wanted — healthy or not. “What the heck?,” I thought. “What does anything matter? My time is limited. Just be lazy and die.”
But, when he died, my son, I felt how much he wanted to live. And, I decided that as long as I am alive, I have to “want” to live, (even though I would rather trade places with him — let him live to see his young children grow up.)
I have pushed myself to … finish projects, throw out unimportant memorabilia, strip my life to bare essentials and find purpose to each and every day in an effort to pay tribute to my son’s lost life.
And then, today, I decided it was tree-trimming time.
I hauled the old, wooden ladder from the shed. It was left there from the previous owners, probably a 30-40 year old 100 pound wooden ladder.
I struggled to drag and place it against my first tree. Nope. It was too unstable. I was not on a death-wish.
Returning to the shed, I found our aluminum extension ladder and placed it appropriately against the tree trunk and began to hand-saw the large limb. Between breaths, I looked downward, thinking about how I do not like heights, remembering how Mike’s wife said that he didn’t like heights, yet, he was a Lineman. I had no fear. I have no fear. My son died from an horrific cancer. Nothing can scare me.
So, I climbed the ladder. I cut a few limbs, and realized that I was reaching unsafe territory. I returned to the shed and searched for the manual pole saw. I used it to cut some mighty hefty limbs while standing safely on the ground.
One limb weighed more than me. As I attempted to drag it to the trailer, where I was storing the limbs, I used all my weight and might when one of the subsidiary branches snapped, shooting my body, full-force to the hard ground. As I fell, first feeling my hip where my sciatica is usually a constant sorrow, I felt my right wrist scream in pain! I countered with, “No! You are not broken! You are a sprain. You are a sprain, you are a sprain…”
I rose to my feet. I was able to walk. I felt my hand/wrist, unsure of what a broken bone felt like, I was certain that my injury was merely a sprain.
Two days later, my hand/wrist are still swollen, discolored with some pretty shades of purple and green, and in pain. And, it took this whole long rambling to reach my point of being “afraid.”
At my age, 62, I should not be climbing ladders, cutting down and dragging 100+ pound tree limbs across my yard. I reflected that over the past two months, I have suffered a torn shoulder, severe sinus infection and was finally back on my feet, looking forward to getting back to my transcription job. The house was cleaned, and all I wanted to do was start some outdoor projects that could sit and wait for my days off from transcribing. I had a plan! I was so happy! And then BOOM! In an instant, my plans changed by my own fault, by not being careful.
After the holiday, Memorial Day, I will be visiting my doctor to get x-rays of my hand/wrist. I need to know that I will heal and be able to return to transcription work.
Meanwhile, as I think about this accident, I realize how fortunate I was that I didn’t kill myself while on the ladder, or break my neck from the force of my fall. My worst fear of being a “brain in a jar” could have materialized if I had been totally paralyzed.
I will be fine. I will recover. I have learned my limitations. I am most happy that my brain is inside of my head and I can see, hear, feel taste and think. I just need to practice my thinking before engaging in any outdoor projects!