Water and other falls – Julie Swope

I’ve seen the majestic Niagara Falls, the colorful Rainbow Falls in Hawaii, Falling Waters, and numerous peaceful falls in the serenity of the forests. I seek them, I gravitate to them. I feel calm in their presence and their energies envelope me.

While I reflect on their charm, I am reminded of the not so charming Julie falls 😦

When I was four years old, I fell down curvy, steep attic steps from the top while clutching a plastic gum ball bank. While I tumbled down a flight, the plastic broke, giving me a gash in my chin. Everything else was a-okay. I can still hear the anguished scream of my Aunt Mary who was at the top of the stairs before my descent.

When I was five, my mother took me with her to a business meeting at a friend’s house. While the women were conducting their meeting, I found myself called to the red wooden swing in the yard. As a kid, swings were my favorite form of play. I’d sit on the swing, pump my short legs high into the air. And before I knew it I was touching the sky. As a finale I’d twist my body from side to side to have a bumpy slow down. This time however the landing gear slipped and I fell to the muddy ground. The next sound was the sharp crack of the swing against the back of my head. That was my first experience of seeing stars in the daylight. When I awoke, I was lying on a flowered couch in the woman’s living room with concerned looks surrounding me. When I was alert my mother put an ice bag on my head for me to hold on the drive home. I didn’t get to go to any more meetings with her.

When I was six, I ran around the house with a pencil in hand. I tripped and fell hard enough that the lead entered the skin of my knee. My father, a physician, felt it best to let the lead remain. To this day the lead remains visible under my skin. It gave new meaning to the phrase, “c’mon, move, get the lead out.”

Recess, in third grade for me, meant finding a cozy corner up against the building and reading a book. I didn’t own any one corner in particular; I’d vary my silent reading sets. One day I roamed to the back of the playground and decided that sitting against the school walls on top of the peeling painted, wooden basement double doors would be delightful. Upon taking my first steps up the slant, the doors gave in and I saw darkness with streams of light above. Some scattering motion around my feet scared me, and I called out. Once again, I remember the anguished faces of the nuns trying to rescue me. I escaped only with cuts on the front of my legs from the concrete steps. My feelings, however, were crushed, with the severe reprimand for being in an area where no one was supposed to be.

When I was ten, my family joined a swanky new country club. My parents took golf lessons while we kids were deposited at the pool. I loved to swim; the feeling of motion created freedom. I splashed with others, swam laps, and then I spied a cute boy who I wanted to impress with my aquatic abilities. I waited in turn for the diving tower. No siree, no shallow dive for me, I thought. I will grace the air with my form and sunny yellow suit. I climbed the stairs, stepped onto the board, and tested the springiness. And that quickly my fall from grace happened. Whoever knew that water could be hard? My belly found out. I was stunned and hurting, but what hurt more was trying to hide my tears of embarrassment from that cute guy.

When I was eleven I was expected to do my share of caring for our two horses. I grew up with three sisters and we’d alternate daily to clean the stalls and feed the horses. Although I was short, I was also strong. I dug the pitch fork into the dark, damp, smelly straw and manure, and heave it to the wheelbarrow. I wheeled the load up the hill, and dump my load on the manure pile. I returned to the barn, climb up the loft ladder, through hay into the bins below. One day on my descent my foot slipped on one of the rounded wooden rungs of the wall ladder. I landed on the front of my body only to feel an excruciating pain in my back. Apparently I startled the horse enough for him to take a chunk from my back. I was on the reserve list for horse chores until further notice.

It’s not over yet. Stay tuned for part 2 – Adult Falls


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