A couple of months back I admitted in these spaces that I was a worry wart. I also wrote that I had apparently inherited that trait from my dear old mother.
Mama, bless her soul, was a great worrier. Even when all was well she would sometimes fear that something bad might happen. I will confess that, like many boys and young men, I sometimes gave her reason to be concerned. But one of her biggest scares turned out to be a misunderstanding that, after it was all over, we could look back at and laugh.
I played CYO basketball, which was a big part of my fall and winter life. Our team represented St. Anthony’s Church in Baton Rouge and we were pretty good — not great — and won more often than we lost.
One time we played in a tournament in Alexandria and Mama filled our car with teenaged boys and drove as many of us as would fit in her Oldsmobile to the tourney.
But it was a routine game at the old Sacred Heart gym in Baton Rouge that gave Mama her big scare.
I was quite near-sighted and wore glasses during the games. I could see pretty well what was going on near to me, but to get a clear picture of the action across court, I needed to wear my specs. Now these weren’t the special athletic glasses that players wear today, more like goggles than glasses.
Nope, these were my everyday glasses, held on to my head by a little elastic band attached to the ear stems.
Okay, so here we are, playing a team whose name has long escaped me and I go up for a rebound. Well, the elbow of an opposing player also fighting for the ball, crashes into my face and shatters the lens over my right eye. I received a pretty nasty cut, about a half inch below my eyeball and I started bleeding like the proverbial stuck pig.
The other boy didn’t hit me in the face on purpose, he was just playing the game. I’m sure he was as upset about all my blood dripping onto the court as I was. Anyway, the game stops for a minute, our coach runs on court to check me out and I tell him the eye’s okay, it’s just my face that’s cut.
So, he calls my house and tells Mama that I had an accident and that my eye lens popped out. What she thought she heard was that my eye had popped out!
Well, coach took me to an emergency room, where they put several stitches in my upper cheek. Poor Mama rushes in, expecting to find a one-eyed son. But when she learned the truth, a great sigh of relief issued forth from her.
The scar beneath my eye was visible for many, many years afterwards, a reminder of a very unfortunate misunderstanding. And also of a very close call, too, because the cut had in fact, just missed my eye.
Another time my own stupidity gave Mama a scare. She was in the kitchen, either cooking or doing dishes and I was standing in the dining room. I decided to play a trick on her, by jumping into the kitchen, landing loudly on my feet behind her and startling her. That may sound mean, but she would have understood that it was love-inspired high jinks, the kind of thing that often occurred around our house.
Well, I forgot how high I could jump, apparently, because in mid-leap my head hit the top of the door jamb between the kitchen and dining room and I was knocked flat on my back after falling several feet to the floor. Mama hears the crash, turns around and sees me lying stun-faced below her. She had no idea how I’d gotten into that situation, but she heard the noise and me cry out and thought the worst. She started jumping up and down in fear that somehow I’d been attacked — or something. I quickly explained what had happened and she told me what she thought of my stunt.
I wasn’t any the worse for wear, thanks to my hard head.
There were other times when I made Mama worry, getting home late, getting into wrecks and all the other things that young men tend to do. Space precludes going into details on those, but I thought you might enjoy the two episodes related above.
The moral of these tales? Wear shatter proof lenses if you play sports, tell your coach to carefully explain to your Mom what happened if you get hurt and never, never jump from one room to another to scare your Mama.