Every day’s an adventure, and every adventure is a learning experience. Maybe. Last Thursday I planned to get up at 6 AM, walk a mile with Adolph to the number ten bus for a one-hour ride to Froedert, take a one-hour bus ride back to Shorewood after his appointment, then the same one-mile walk back home.
The plan changed once we were on our way. Adolph was walking faster than usual between Maryland and Oakland. And on the downhill trek between Oakland and Wilson, he was walking much faster than usual, said his balance felt off. I grabbed his arm, tried to control his speed, “We have plenty of time to make the bus,” I said. He slowed a bit, then accelerated. I hung on. We crossed Newhall, and he began to lurch forward, faster faster, I tried to tried to slow him stop him. He’s heading towards the grass, knows he’s going to fall, I suddenly realized as the sidewalk came up and smacked me in the face, and the grass smacked him!
Oh no, an appointment made months ago for Adolph, and here we were, lying on the ground at Olive and Newhall. It’s a four-way stop, and the cars that had stopped, stayed stopped, drivers waiting to make sure we were okay, except for one driver who saw us, made a quick U-turn, and sped away. I stood up.
“Someone yelled, “Can he get up?” Oh, Adolph was still down and dazed, “Adolph, you’d better stand, everyone’s waiting,” and he did. He was fine! Grass!!!
A woman rolled down her window and called out to me, “Are you okay?” I had no idea, nothing broken below my chin, but above, hidden by my neck-warmer, something hurt, teeth, lips, jaw. How will we ever make that bus?
I crossed to her car and asked, neck-warmer still concealing my face, “Could you please take us to the bus stop?” She immediately cleared out her back seat, we got in, I removed my neck-warmer, uh oh, I saw a bit of blood on my fingers and felt a fat upper lip. “Maybe you should leave me at emergency?” “You just need an ice pack. . . ,” said our benefactress, “ I have several in my freezer, I’ll run in and get one after we drop my son off at school.”
Ten minutes later we were on the bus, a 65- minute ride, ice pack on my face, teeth and bones intact, I was amazed! Less than two hours after we left home we were miraculously in Adolph’s doctor’s office, and I was holding a second ice pack over my fat upper lip.
The next morning the lip had lost a little weight, purple bruises glowed above my lips, reached down to my chin and up to my eye, and my right leg was swollen from toe tips to knee. Should I go to my 9 AM ballet class? No choice about the party at our gallery tonight, and no way I’ll miss dancing to Paul Cebar at Shank Hall tomorrow, ooh, and ballet class Monday and Wednesday, New Orleans Jazz Tuesday night, dancing at the Wherehouse Wednesday night. Better get used to it. And forget it.
And that’s what I decided, that I’d simply smile at the world from a face of purple blotches! Everyone would wonder what happened, and no one would ask. I knew from previous experience. Well, I’d tell them, that’s all, no questions necessary. I was lucky I didn’t break anything. Bruises disappear eventually, while many people face the world disfigured every day of their lives.
My last fall had been preventable. I knew ahead of time I’d better fill the hole in my garden, I always was too busy, despite the pile of soil a few feet away. So I ended up with a sharp metal stake in my cheek in August. This was different. As I looked back I couldn’t think of a moment I should have let go of Adolph’s arm. What was I to do, just let him fall?
And what will I do if it happens again? The true test of my learning curve came a few days later when Adolph and I took a similar downhill walk to Edgewood Avenue. It’s too dangerous to grab his arm, I kept telling myself, have to slow him down, can’t order him to walk slowly, didn’t work last Thursday, won’t work today. Then suddenly he was walking faster again. I shouted, Stop! And we both stopped. And laughed. Then we began to walk again, and as soon as he sped up, I called out, Stop! And we laughed, and so it went, all the way from Capital to Edgewood.