I stayed home from school sick that day, in 1968. My younger brothers and older sister headed for school. That year, our first in Cheltenham, England, my sister, next to youngest brother and I went to one school and my two oldest brothers went to another. We all walked together, as the older boys’ school was on the way to our school.
When we reached their school (Dean Close) we waited and watched as they crossed the busy road. And then we carried on to our school (NewCourt). We ranged in age from 11 to 6, my sister Jeannie being the eldest.
So on this day, at home in bed with some ailment,
I was “disturbed” when the phone rang and the party on the other end of the phone caused my mother to redirect her attention from me to a situation that trumped mine. My eldest brother, it seems, had been hit by a car.
Well, I don’t honestly recall the details of the hubbub, but I recall vividly the details relayed to me by my sister and younger brothers who witnessed the accident. I recall thinking, “how come this had to happen when I was sick?” Not because I thought I could/would have able to change the accident from happening had I not been home sick, but because it stole my ATTENTION…the ATTENTION I deserved!
It seems that Jeannie had “let” Tim and Dan cross the road without paying as close attention to this responsibility as an older sibling should (OK, essentially, nothing different from any other day.) Tim and Dan had set out to cross the street to the center line, as was the practice over there in those days. From there they would wait for the traffic to clear to allow safe passage to their final destination.
This day, the driver of a car, wanting to make a right turn (like a car in the US making a left turn) waved the boys across in front of his stopped car. Just as the boys began to cross, another car, maneuvered around the car waiting to make the turn. Tim happened to reach the same point in the road as the moving vehicle and was hit. He bounced on the hood of the car and on the roof before landing on the tarmac, unconscious.
I have no idea how the ambulance was called, but I am told that when Tim came to in the ambulance, his first question was, “Where’s Dan?” as he presumed they had both been hit by the car. His second question was, “where’s my book?” (Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn, I think it was).
After the trip to the hospital where the damage was assessed to be some cuts and bruises on the forehead, a dislocated shoulder and a possible concussion (if he vomited more than three times, this was supposedly the diagnosis.) he was released to the care of my mother, who promptly acted as if HIS condition was worse than mine!
Over the next few days and weeks, Tim received get well cards, and special treatment galore. He vomited exactly three times…so….I don’t know whether that qualified as a concussion or not, but I am here to tell you, I was one unhappy camper! I can still remember how unfair I thought the whole thing was…..and I honestly did not stop to consider how unfair Tim must have FELT it was.
I was quite able to lay on the blame, too.
Jeannie should have minded the boys better.
That first driver should not have beckoned the boys to cross in front of his car.
The other driver should not have “overtaken” the stopped car.
My brothers should not have crossed in front of a car in the first place….
Can we say, “it’s all about ME??” When I think about how unfair things seem at times, I recall that very strong feeling that day when I was 10 years old. I am reminded how stupid I was to feel that way then and it helps me see that the feeling is just as stupid today.