Sunday, October 2, 2011

John Wayne

Hey All,      We all do things that we wish we wish we could take back or do over.  It would be nice to have a big red "do over" button we could hit.  Everything that happens affects the future, even if we can't see it or notice it.
      Tom and I spent a lot of time together as kids.  We spent great deal of this time at Grandmoms' in Buckingham.  We would hunt in the fields across the road or down the mountain,  fish in the creek down at Doc Taylors and bring suckers home for dinner that Grandmom would make fried fish cakes.   Sometimes we would get bored ....... and that would lead to trouble, especially on this one particular summer day.
      We were in our mid teens.  We spent a lot of time watching television and westerns. We were raised in a be tough, be strong, "don't cry or I'll give you something to cry about"  type of male dominated family.  John Wayne was kind of like the image of mascilinity to srtive for.    I was by nature, a quiet, non aggressive kid, who had to exert myself to be the rough and tumble kind, the son my father expected.  Although I was thought to be intelligent, that was valued on par with being a mans' man.  I didn't know how to be that son.  Tommy was by nature that son.  He had the valued intelligence and the strong male persona that my Dad respected and expected.  A lot of the time growing up I would watch Tom and imitate his behavior to try and learn what to do, so that I might earn my Dad's approval, his positive attention, his rough style of  affection..............just  like Tommy had.
       Dad was out on the road as usual.  It was a hot Friday afternoon as we sat in the lawn chairs under the big maple tree outside of Grandmoms' house.  We were bored and didn't know what to do with ourselves as we spent this time in idle conversation.   We  each had our own pellet rifles and we decided to take them out across the road and see what we could get into, after all nothing else was happening.   We walked the edge of the field up and down and after getting nothing but useless exercise, sat down on a fallen tree.  This wasn't helping our relentless sense of boredom.   I don't recall who came up with this brilliant idea, but after talking about  western movies, it was decide that we would get behind trees and shoot at each other.  Yeah, I know, this was not the intelligence that my fathered admired.
       We took refuge behind the biggest trees available, at 30 feet apart, which protected us each completely..  The agreement was that we would only pump the rifles 3 times.  That hardly mattered because even at that, if hit in the wrong place it could be fatal.   I only exposed my arms as I pointed the gun blindly around the big tree and shot in Toms' general direction.  After each shot , we would have to cock, load and re- pump the rifles.  I forgot myself and pumped it more than 3 times.  With my back against the tree, I held the rifle in my left hand and pulled the trigger with my right thumb.   I immediately heard a yelp from Tom and then  then his yell that I hit him.   My heart was racing as I ran out to where he was standing and saw blood on the ground and he was nowhere insight.  He had ran straight to Grandmoms' and ran so fast I didn't see him until I got there.   Grandmom didn't drive so she called a friend and took Tom to the doctor.  An Xray showed that the bullet had gone into his arm, a few inches above his wrist, traveled up his arm a few inches and lodged against the bone.   Grandmom was upset with us to say the least and Tommy had told her it was an accident, a ricochet.  If they knew how this really happened, Dad would have kicked our asses for sure.  He may have taken away our hunting privileges as well.  It was a good thing Tom thought fast on his feet.  It was late in the day, so Tommy had to wait until Monday for surgery to remove the bullet.  The doctor said it wasn't life threatening so it would be alright.  Come Monday, when taken to get it removed, the doctor used a pair of tweezers.  From using his arm,  the muscle action had worked the bullet to just below the surface and surgery wasn't required.
       God looked after us that day.  What are the odds that not aiming, not even looking, that I would hit Tommy in the only exposed part of his body?  How about the fact that his injury wasn't serious and that surgery was avoided because it was deferred?   We made a lot of mistakes back then and we learned to respect firearms without the steep price it could have cost us. We were left without any parental supervision, no guidance, most of the time.  Without our guardian angels, we wouldn't be here today.   How many times would I come to find out that this was true?    Time would tell...................and so will I.
                             Until next time.........................God Bless.

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