The only traumatic event of my young life was a drowning, a long time ago. A church outing, several days at very nice cabins by a beautiful lake, swimming and little rowboats. I was in a small boat with my Mom, her friend, and a few other kids. Older kids were cruising around in boats, paddling away, racing each other or just floating idly in the sun. It was some time after lunch, around 2 or 3pm. The Preacher had a meeting he had to attend, so he was gone at the time. My Dad had made a quick run to pick up some bait for fishing. There were others they left in charge, so its not like we were women and children abandoned.
A young fellow named Harold jumped out of his boat and began to swim toward ours. The theory of the adults is that there was a girl in our boat he was crazy about, that he wanted to impress her.
Halfway between his boat and ours, he stopped, and then went down. No one else seems to have seen it, but after the surface of the water smoothed, I clearly remember seeing bubbles burst and disturb that surface.
All others swiftly realized something was terribly wrong. Several of his friends dove in and went under, but came up with nothing. Mom and other adults were screaming at them to get back in their boats, terrified that more might go under and not come back. Some, including Mom's friend in my boat, were just screaming incoherently.
Because we were nearest where he went down, the few authority figures there were (older boys and the women, a couple guys on shore) designated my boat, with its screaming women and weeping girls and boys, to sit at the site until they could triangulate the position. All I wanted to do was get on land, but I had to sit in a chaotically panicked group and try to be patient.
After several nights of games and laughter in the large common room, that night was very eerie. Many of us just sat silently. Others quietly talked, particularly the older boys, shaken and unrightfully feeling guilty that they couldn't find him in time. Girls wept. Boys, too. Dad and the Preacher - you could see it in their eyes, they were wracked with guilt, both thinking they could have done something.
As it turned out, Harold got "the bends," a paralysis that locks up the muscles, and he sank like a rock - there was nothing anyone could have done. This was verified after they finally found him late the next day.
So, the point of all this? Here it is -
Any media truck coming down that trail that evening or the next morning would have been kicked so hard out of that area that they would never forget the experience. And us kids? We needed to talk with each other and our parents and our Preacher. We had absolutely no desire to make a name for ourselves by going on TV - the thought would not even have occurred to us.
Thursday, February 22, 2018
Kids and tragedy
My buddy Mad Max had some thoughts on kids and tragedy. He allowed me to share.