“I’ve Fallen Down and I Can’t Get Up”: Grumpy takes a Tumble


You probably remember those commercials of the little old lady, prone on the floor, calling into her little necklace bob, as she connects to the helpline she needs after a fall. I actually rented that system for my own mother when she refused to move out of her home even though she was in her mid eighties.

Last week my cousin came for a visit and described a fall he had in the winter. We both agreed that, as you age, you begin to worry that even the slightest tumble will lead to severe injury. In his case, he broke a few fingers and cracked his coconut. Never in my wildest dreams would I have attached irony to this discussion.

Well, at least, not until last Wednesday rolled around.

I had rebuilt a small porch for the side entry to our house. During the construction I managed to hit the same thumb with the hammer twice and then slice through all of that damage with a hand saw.   My thumb looked like raw hamburger on a stick. But, you know what they say, mishaps often occur in threes. So, I thought I was done with doing grave injury to my person.

Nay,nay, my friends.

Well, I tried to copy the steps to fit the pattern of the previous steps we built 20 years before. However, open completion I discovered that the bottom step was one inch higher than the previous incarnation. My late Grandfather, who helped with the original construction would have said, “You know an inch in construction isn’t as important as an inch in the bedroom!”

Well, now I know that it is.

You see, I was cleaning up last Wednesday and had an armful of tools. Upon taking that first step my toe caught the top of the riser and, before I knew it, I was in face-plant mode. I quickly ejected the tools and tried to catch myself, only to whack my forearm on the cement platform at the top of the porch. The pain was excruciating and, upon looking at the rising welt, I figured I’d broken my arm.

Luckily, I had not fractured a bone and only ended up with a huge bruise, which in turn, was much smaller than the injury to my pride. You must know that my family really gets a kick out of Grumpy’s propensity for daring-do and the frequency of his near hospitalization.

I know you are saying, “Well, that’s not funny. Really, it’s quite tragic. Poor, Grumpy.”

That’s OK because you simply forgot that these incidents happen in threes.

The fun began on the weekend. We had driven to Wallaceburg for the “Phenom’s” Provincial Baseball Championships. During the games I often get up to walk, partially due to muscle stiffness, but more because of this nervous energy that consumes me.

There were train tacks running along the right field fence; the perfect place to stroll and watch the game. I decided I stay to a worn path there because the stone rail bed was a difficult foot hold even for a person much younger than me. I’d ere on the side of caution.

As an aside, it doesn’t matter how old you are when you are confronted with a possible situation for public recognition. Even though your body might be 60 years old, your brain has you believing you are 18.

Just as I was approaching the first base area, a batter swatted a hard foul ball over the fence in my direction. My brain kicked into baseball mode and everything appeared to revert to slow motion. Indeed I calculated I could catch this ball in one hop. However, someone pressed fast forward and before I knew it the ball was catapulting toward my head.

No matter, I’m eighteen years old again, right. I did a step back turn and caught that ball one handed, swinging my arm back to take the force of the blow. I felt like every eye in the park was upon me, and that I’d made a grab worthy of a standing “O”.

That’s when my brain announced, “RED ALERT! Your feet are going out from under you and you’re going down, Bubba!”

You see I’d stepped back onto the rocky rail bed and my feet went out from under me like I was standing on an ice rink. The ball slipped from my hand, flew up in the air. And, guess what, my previously injured arm crashed down on the iron rail causing a sound to ring in my ears like Quasimodo’s bell. I had little time to react because the baseball I tossed came crashing down on the top of my head.

All eyes were, of course, upon me.

Despite the pain and the real possibility of a broken arm this time, I popped up to my feet within a nanosecond. I was thinking, of course, that a quick recovery would redeem me with my new fans. I actually tossed the ball to a player using the injured arm, hoping to convince everyone I was 100%.

As I walked behind the bleaches a bunch of old guys peered down at me with genuine concern on their faces. “Hey, buddy, you OK?” they asked.

“Ya, I’m good,” I replied. The throbbing pain in my forearm told a different story.

When I sat back down my wife said, “Look at your leg!”

Seems as if I’d inflicted major road rash there, because my aspirin diluted blood was trickling down my calf in rivulets.

Needless to say, the teenage boys got the biggest kick out of my performance, high fiving me and back slapping me after the game. However, this was not the recognition I envisioned when I saw that ball coming my way. Really, my performance could best be described as if Hollywood picked Chevy Chase to play the lead in the Derek Jeter Story.

I later told my wife this was my first big “Boo Boo” as a senior citizen and that there would be more bruises to come. I think she’ll take this to heart and buy me one of those necklace bobs. After all, she also believes that these kinds of mishaps occur in threes and, “I’ve Fallen Down and I Can’t Get Up”, is surely part of my not too distant future.

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