Monday, October 11, 2010

Real Life Is Scary - Even When You Are Having Fun

When I was in junior high school we were in the Smokey Mountains for a family vacation. We were at a go-cart track in Pigeon Forge which is a tourist town at the base of the mountains. My brother, Billy, and my sister, Rhonda, and I were having a ball driving around the go-cart track at full speed like we did everything when we were kids. We didn't know what slow meant on anything!

I had used up my time and was sitting in the van with my mom and dad watching Billy and Rhonda go around the track when my sister wrecked. I remember seeing the whole thing and sitting there frozen in place even though I wanted to help her. One second she was flying around the track and the next she was spinning in circles (not rolling thank God!). and she was lying on her back on the go-cart. When it finished spinning she did not get up. My parents raced out of the van to her and I sat there frozen - watching people drive around the track and thinking someone was going to hit her.

The employees at the track finally got everybody to stop their gocarts while people rushed to help my sister. She still did not get up - she couldn't. Her waist length, long brown hair had tangled around the driveshaft of the engine. Her hair had been blowing in the wind (this was in the 70's and nobody wore helmets) and had got caught in the engine. It had wrapped completely around the driveshaft up to her scalp. She was wedged against the hot engine and it was burning her scalp. It took less than a second for this to happen. One second full speed, the next second stopped dead in her tracks.

People were hollering for scissors to cut her hair to free her but nobody had scissors. To free her a mechanic had to take the whole engine apart to get to the driveshaft to untangle her hair. It seemed to take forever.The whole time Rhonda was laying there screaming for them not to cut her hair. They offered to call an ambulance but my dad rushed her to the hospital. I guarantee you that my dad got her to the hospital faster than any ambulance would have. For some reason when he was carrying her into the emergency room (she was 12 years old) I remember thinking, "He really does love her afterall."

Rhonda had whiplash from the wreck (something my parents said didn't exist), she had headaches and neckaches for years after that. The force of her hair pulling into the engine had caused her scalp to rip in several places. She had to have stitches. Worse of all for her they had to cut a big patch of hair out of the back of her head. (We both had long hair all of our lives and niether of us could imagine having short hair) For months she wore a scarf or bandana to cover the bald spot. Fortunately hats made it appear that she had hair to her butt like she always did.

When we got back home she was the first girl drafted into Little League in our county. (Probably the whole state for all I know) I remember sitting in the bleachers hearing people at her first game asking if that was a girl out there - like they couldn't tell with her waistlength hair. Even with her baseball cap she still had to wear that bandana to cover the bald spot. My parents didn't even think about not letting her play because she was light years better than any girl around - and most of the boys for that matter.

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