My Mom always told me to eat a healthy breakfast. “Most important meal of the day!” she’d say.
Once I hit adolescence, I basically ignored her. I am never hungry when I first wake up and I like to eat when I have an appetite (which is basically the other 23 hours of the day).
My Mom also told me to always have on good underwear. “What if you’re in an accident and you have holes in your undies?” she would ask. I shrugged that one off, too. I sort of assumed that if I was facing emergency medical intervention the last thing on my mind would be the state of my underwear.
Well, it took me 57 years to figure it out, but Mom was right.
You see, during the last big snowstorm, my husband and I were both home. No work for us on a stormy day! We were going to stay safe and cozy, snuggled by the fire. Right after we did a few things around the house. I got up and threw on some old scruffy clothes, then started cleaning the house. I vacuumed, dusted, cleaned the bathrooms. Did those annoying little organizational tasks that I can’t usually get to on a Wednesday.
Paul threw on some even scruffier clothes and went out onto the deck to pull some of the snow off the roof.
I bet you can see where this is going.
It was about noon, and I had just made myself a big healthy fruity shake. Yum. The house was clean and the stomach was gurgling. Time to indulge.
Just as I took my first sip, I heard a HUGE crash and clang outside. I looked out the kitchen window and saw the roof rake bouncing on the deck, but no husband. I ran to the slider and saw my poor Paul, holding onto his face and leaning forward. Blood was pouring through his hands onto the snowy deck. “Get me a towel!”, he gasped. “I don’t want to bleed on the floor.”
As I rushed to find a clean towel, my mind was racing with thoughts.
“Where is he hurt? Did it hit his eye? Where are my keys? Should we drive to the hospital in a blizzard or call 911? And just how bitchy am I anyway, if he’s afraid to bleed on the floor?”
I got him to the sink and pressed the ice filled towel to his face. His lip was split completely and he was bleeding from the cheek and eyebrow. It was clear that we’d need to get to the hospital pretty quick.
So into the car we went, bloody towel and all. We got to the hospital without too much slipping and sliding and checked in to the Emergency Room. As we sat waiting for the doctor to arrive, I looked over at my husband, the highly skilled clinical psychologist. His jeans were faded, his sweatshirt sleeve worn, his hair was sticking up in every direction. I glanced down at myself and shuddered. Clearly the medical staff would assume that we were a couple of aging homeless drunks instead of the two educated and attractive middle aged professionals that we were.
Gulp. Mom was right.
The doc came in, looking all of twelve years old, and looked at Paul’s shredded lip. “H’mmmm”, he said, “I could sew that up for you, but you really should be seen by a plastic surgeon. You should drive to the Big Hospital in the City.”
We looked at each other, scruffy old bloody man and I. “The city?” we asked. “The one that’s an hour away on a sunny day?” He nodded his youthful head, a serious look on his baby face. “I don’t really have the kind of experience you need to sew that up really well. I wouldn’t want to leave a scar.”
Given the fact that he was the one bleeding and looking out of a black eye, Paul was somewhat inclined to agree with Doctor Novice, but I had a different reaction. I looked out at the swirling snow and back at my beloved. “You know,” I began, trying to sound thoughtful and loving. “He doesn’t really look like Matthew McConaughey now. I don’t think a scar would be that big a deal.”
Both men looked at me. Dr. Novice looked worried. Dr. Paul looked like he wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. I smiled and smoothed down my wrinkled sweater. I had no intention of driving 50 miles each way in the middle of a Nor’easter. I tried to look loving but firm. I looked at the unlined face of the nervous doctor and put on my teacher voice. “I’m sure you’ll do just fine.”
As he left the room to call the plastic surgeon at the Big Hospital Far Away, I became aware of a distant rumbling sound. At first I thought it was an earthquake, but then I realized that it was my stomach. It was now almost 2pm, and I hadn’t had a bite to eat yet. My shaking hands were probably caused by low blood sugar as much as by nerves. I didn’t want to leave the ER, though, because I was afraid if I did, Dr. Newbie might talk Paul into taking an ambulance ride to the Big Hospital With Grownup Doctors. And I’d have to drive down there to get him.
Now let me take a moment to explain something here. I have been in love with Paul since 1974. We started dating when we were younger than Dr. Babyface. I wasn’t taking his injuries lightly. I wasn’t!
But when you’ve been with someone for more than half your life, you know that you won’t be bothered by a lip scar. I wasn’t about to risk our lives for perfect stitching.
Lucky for me, Paul agreed with me and our kids were completely supportive. “There goes your modeling career, Dad!” texted one of them. “Bout time you had a badass scar, Dad!” texted another. “Gonna be ugly for a while, Dad!” said the third.
Finally, Doctor Firstimer realized that we weren’t going to leave, and he decided to do the stitching himself. While he did, I scooted to the hospital cafeteria for a yummy wrap sandwich.
I won’t go into all the rest of the details (like the “Code Red” Fire alarm that went off during the stitching, or how Doctor Youngster asked the nurse, “What’s Code Red?”). I will just say that about 3 1/2 hours after the Crash and Clang of the falling roof rake, Paul and I were safely at home once again. I got him some ice, poured him a shot of honey bourbon and settled him in the recliner. Even with the black eye, swollen lacerated cheek and stitched up lips, he was still supremely handsome to me.
I headed into the kitchen to start something soft for dinner. As I did, all I could think was, “Mom was right all along.”