With yet another birthday pending in the next couple weeks, I have been thinking about being yet another year closer to age 50. That's when it occurred to me..like Toby Keith, I ain't as good as I once was. Now, I will admit, I was never what you'd call particularly athletic. I was lucky to stay on my feet just walking home from school, after the bus dropped us off. My cousins that walked with me used to find great joy in watching me roll an ankle and trip, or perhaps slip on ice jumping off the bus and end up underneath it, thankfully while it was in parked position. I swear they still talk about that 30 plus years later. The big difference now however, is that I don't "bounce back" quite like I used to.
I was always accident prone, and I guess it was because I was always running around like "a bull in a china shop", as my Uncle Billy used to say. He also had another phrase he used liberally while doling out words of wisdom to his oldest niece, and that was "it's a long way from your heart". I was never allowed to wallow in my pain around Billy, and growing up on a farm, I had my share of injuries.
I was always on a horse growing up, and while I was a decent rider, I had my share of mishaps. I have come off the back of a horse every way possible. I have been bucked off, scraped off, rolled off, and had a horse leap out from under me while we were standing still in the yard. That last spill was particularly interesting, and one of those many occasions where people have said.."That could only happen to you, Carmen."
My cousin Zenya and I were teenage girls that loved to ride horses. We saddled up one day to ride our two horses, Angel and Ebony. We headed out around the front of the house, having decided to ride down the road, on this particular day. My mother called us over to to the porch where she stood waiting to find out where we were headed. Dingle, the orange barn cat sat on the porch railing, twitching his tail and soaking up the nice summer day. The horses relaxed, dropped their heads and cocked a hind leg, as we sat, feet out of stirrups, chatting with my mother. I had just told her we weren't going to be gone long, when suddenly, the lights went out.
The next thing I remember, I was hearing wailing sirens, fading in and out. I opened my eyes, and realized two things...I was now on the ground, and that wailing noise? It was my mother. The next thing I realized was that I couldn't catch my breath, and couldn't answer my mother who was now hollering " Carmen! Can you speak?? Are you alright???" I tried to take a breath but couldn't seem to get enough air to answer her. When she saw me gasping and trying to speak, she did what any caring, concerned mother would do...no, not call 911. Instead, she grabbed me by my legs and started to drag me to the car, across the front lawn, doing her best impression of an ambulance, "OhhhhOHHHHohhhh!"
I finally sucked some air into my lungs, and got out an "I'm ok, I'm ok", and she let go of my legs. I slowly sat up, and looked over at Zenya, who was now standing in the driveway 10 feet away, holding both horses, who both looked all relaxed and peaceful. I sputtered a "what the heck happened", as I slowly got to my feet, trying to catch the breath that had been completely knocked out of me.
Zenya said she had no idea, just that we were standing there and suddenly Angel lunged past Ebony, and I was on the ground. My mother spoke up and said " I know what happened, I just don't know why it happened.. You were both sitting on the horses, and I saw Dingle watching you. Before I could do or say anything, he suddenly leapt off the porch and landed right on Angels back! She just shot out from under you and I swear, you hovered in the air 10 seconds before you crashed."
After that, Zen and I decided we were done riding for the day, so we headed back to the barn, wondering what would possess Dingle to leap on the back of a horse. Unsaddling Angel, I got my answer. As I went to swing the saddle down off her back, right in the middle of her rump, I found a smushed horse fly, right where Dingle had landed. I would like to have said I was at least pleased he got the fly he was after, but my painful tailbone wouldn't let me be happy for him. Ever.
I think about falling like that now, and I shudder. I took so many spills riding, walking and farming it is amazing I can still get around at all. These days I manage to impale my gums on a shard of bacon from a hamburger at a fast food place (true story), cut myself on a plastic Pepsi bottle (happened today), and go over a big bump in the car and hurt my knee (pretty much every time). Heck, I even have a padded toilet seat to try and avoid injury, and as my Uncle Billy would say, that is one part of my anatomy that is truly, a long way from my heart.