My Dad Was Knocked Unconscious and Thrown 30 Feet

I was 8. He was 34.
I was at the summer babysitters house. I spent that season with Jamie, a 12 year old who was the coolest person I knew. I was her shadow. Other than seeing myself trail around after her all over town, I have only one clear memory with her that summer.
We had just returned to her house. I walked to the kitchen when Jamie’s mother told me I had a phone call. My mom was on the line. “Daddy’s been in a bad accident. He was hit by a taxi cab. The doctors think he’ll be OK but he has to stay in the hospital for a while. Here, he wants to talk to you.”
Those four sentences lasted weeks. Normally I remember many unimportant details of each house I’ve ever been in, like where the kitchen window is in relation to the hanging pots and pans. I remember nothing of Jamie’s house. I only know it’s where I was the first time I experienced sink in, terrifying, “out of body” dread where the earth shifts and wobbles beneath you.
“Hi honey. I’m OK.” Gentle laughter. “I was walking across the street downtown Chicago and a cab came roaring around the corner and out of the more than 30 other people walking my way, the cab managed to hit me and I flew 30 feet.” Breathing returned. My brain began to thaw. This is what I saw in my inner visiscreen. My dad first flying straight up then sideways at a ninety degree angle across the sky before crashing onto the pavement. My next question will forever be part of family history, “But how high did you go daddy?!”
The following day I was allowed to visit the hospital. I understood why he was there and not at home. I got that he was fragile. So did the wonderful staff seeing to his recovery. That’s why they earnestly discouraged my dad from letting me wheel him around the corridors. My dad would not be swayed. His little girl wanted to take him for a ride and he wanted a little variety.
Keep in mind, though my dad was bruised and bloody (and up to his eyeballs in pain meds), he miraculously had suffered no broken bones or internal bleeding. The fact that he wasn’t dead mystified everyone. The consensus was that his having been a trapeze artist in the circus 14 years earlier saved his butt, as well as his bones and organs!
Anyway, there I was, the shortest girl in my in grade at school, strong beyond my understanding, hands at eye level gripping the grooved, gray plastic handles of his wheel chair. And away we went. I wasn’t interested in moderation. I assumed my dad wanted to go as fast as I could push him. I was right, much to the yelping concern of everyone watching with wide eyes, their shoulders between their ears with anxiety. I couldn’t stop that chair on my own. In a short time I had run him into a wall. He was laughing so hard. At this point, these well meaning people tried to step in but my dad insisted he was fine and that they should go away. His amusement park ride didn’t last much longer, though it did include a few more meet ups with other walls and man was it fun! I love my dad’s laugh.
Soon he was back in his funny looking bendable bed adorned with useful wires and swithces. Hospital rooms can be eerily quiet. One by one he showed me each of his wounds. That’s when I understood how lucky I was to be hearing his voice.
He came home a week later. Eventually he was fully recovered aside from some back problems that have manifested in different ways over the years.
In a long, low plastic box under my bed, I have a brittle envelope containing photos of every scratch, gash and ocean of black, blue and red on his legs, back, abdomen, neck and face. I used to look at them often. No thoughts, just observing again, thankful my dad knew how to “fly through the air with the greatest of ease,” even after being rendered unconscious.

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