My first-born son; recipient of centuries of Highland blood, wavy red hair [ he was the wonder of the hospital nursery – the only newborn the oldest nurse there had ever seen born with long red hair ] keen-witted, native good humor, easy-going, soft-spoken, with the heart of a lion. When I stand before the judgement seat under the awful gaze of a righteous God, with empty pockets and a soiled and weathered soul, I shall pull myself upright, throw out my chest, and with all the pride within me proclaim – ” I was the father of this man”.
My first-born son, with the wisdom and judgement of a 14-year-old American boy, was playing at a sword fight with one of his friends. With machetes. Errol Flynn would have been proud.
The friend won the match, by all rules governing such things, he drew first blood. My son, the blooming artist, received a gash from knuckle to finger tip on his right index finger, his drawing hand. A hurried trip to the emergency room, disinfection, sewing up the wound, then waiting for weeks of healing.
A month or so afterwards and he could not move the finger. His mother was FURIOUS.
‘ How could you do such a thing?’
‘What were you thinking?’
‘You’ve ruined your hand for a silly game’
‘Who gave you that stupid knife?’
First son, then father, could do nothing but hang their heads in front of this wisp of a woman who had to stand a – tip – toe to slap either one of us.
A bit of research revealed that injuries to the hand, and any possible repairs, were the province of the plastic surgeon. Demanding the best for her firstborn my wife found the highest rated such doctor in a nearby affluent suburb and set up an appointment.
The good doctor examined the hand. He x-rayed the hand. He examined the x-rays then the hand. Then the x-rays and the hand simultaneously. He instructed my son to move his finger. With all the muscles of his arm quivering, the boy strained at the effort for a moment, then gasped “I can’t”.
Turning the hand this way and that, the good doctor explained that he would have to make incisions here and there and move this thing that way and that thing this way and it would cost 8,000 Yankee greenback dollars.
Back home again my wife [the light of my life, the dead center of my heart, the breath in my lungs, and the blood in my veins ] asked when she should set up the surgery.
Me; “How much will it cost?”
Wife; “Eight thousand dollars.”
Me; “We don’t have eight thousand dollars”
Wife; “How soon can you get it?”
Me; “As soon as my rich uncle dies”.
Wife; ” I didn’t know you had a rich uncle “.
Me; “I don’t”.
At this point I stopped taking notes.
It was decided to take our son and his hand to the county hospital.
Parkland Co. Hospital [where John Kennedy was pronounced dead] is the main teaching hospital for the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and the head professor of plastic surgery looked at my son’s hand. Turning the hand this way and that way, he felt along the finger and palm. After about five minutes examining the wound he told Matt to move his finger.
Matt; [straining] “I can’t”
Doctor; “Try harder”
With his head down, shaking with the strain, Matt poured all of his strength and will into the wounded hand and managed to force the finger to move a fraction of an inch.
Doctor;” You don’t need an operation, you need persistent exercise of that hand and finger.Get a tennis ball and keep it in your hand day and night. Keep squeezing and in a week or two it will begin to limber up. The key is to keep moving it.”
Matt persisted in his finger flexing
And we all lived happily ever after.
At least untill my second born, John, found the machete.