I'm on the tail end of a two week vacation from work. The original plan was to go to my hometown of Sarasota for a day or two, then to a conference in Marco Island and then go to a place in Central Florida that has a lot of old airplanes on display. Unfortunately, Hurricane Dennis interrupted those plans at the last minute. We'd already left and were about half way to the turpentine paradise of Perry when I called my office and discovered that the powers-that-be had cancelled things in the face of 130+ MPH winds. Wimps.
Anyway, we went back home and rode out the rain and winds we got from the fringes of Dennis. Nothing bad, until the late afternoon when a cherry tree limb fell in the yard. It didn't damage anything, but had to be disposed of, so the next day I got out my trusty electric chainsaw and started making a big pile out of the big limb. When I was nearly done with the cherry limb, my wife reminded me that she really wanted a couple of old crepe myrtles taken down as well, so I worked on those as well. Yup, we'll have lots of firewood this winter.
The next day, Tuesday, I went out and around doing some more chores. I'd decided that there was too much pine straw on the roof of our utility building, so I got out the aluminum extention ladder and a rake to clear the needles away. It was then time to work on the roof of our house, so I set up the ladder on the back porch eave, climbed up and swept things off. I was feeling pretty good about my labors and proceeded to dismount myself from the roof; I got my feet on the ladder rung and began to turn around to climb down when I heard the rattle of the aluminum and realized that the ladder was moving left and, like a cartoon character on TV, I found myself exiting Stage Right.
This business of people saying that your whole life flashes in front of you in situations like mine is a bunch of hooey; about all I had time for was to go "Oh CRAP!" and realize that my legs were still tied up in the ladder rungs and that I was about to be well educated in the Law of Gravity. The fall was probably about eight feet and I landed on my right side, mostly on my shoulder and hip. Oddly enough, the best description of the landing, besides PAIN, was a feeling of gray. What the heck is "gray"? I don't know, but I really don't want to experience it again. I didn't black out (almost wish I had before the impact) but it was like a big gray thing moved from the point of impact upwards. It didn't last long and was replaced by the sharp twinges of pain from all sorts of places. Nothing snapped, popped or cracked and I was still breathing, no bright light beckoning me to a better place, so I figured I'd managed to avoid the Grim Reaper this time.
I was wondering if anyone had seen me take the big fall. My youngest daughter was on the computer with a window directly facing my position and my wife was doing some art work at the kitchen table not too far from the area either, but for those few seconds I was thinking that I was going to have to make my way into the house on my own. Soon enough, however, my wife, daughter and Emily (the dog) came out to see what I'd done to myself and to see if I was OK (actually, Emily probably came out to see if there was fresh meat to be had and if the position of Alpha Dog had been suddenly vacated). Of course, my wife's first words to were wonder what the hell I'd been thinking, getting up on the roof on a ladder without someone to spot for me, a sentiment that, by then, I'd been thinking a lot myself.
I slowly got up off of the ground (at least I'd had the good sense to test Galileo's theories by choosing the relatively soft earth versus the unyielding concrete of the front driveway or the rough concrete pavers that were a couple of feet to the left of where I fell). Did I mention that the electric chainsaw was on the pavers about two feet to the left of my crater as well? That would've been a lot of fun to fall on. Everything worked, but everything hurt. That evening and the next day found me mostly in bed on in a chair with an ice pack and taking ibuprofen.
During this time we'd been coming up with alternative plans for a vacation. Now that I was much too sore to do yard or house work for a while, the planning became in earnest. We finally ended up with Charleston, SC. My wife drove our van to the Palmetto State while I kept ice on all my sensitive areas. The next day or so in the hotel we stayed in, I began to notice a lot of delayed-action bruises coming up. My right thigh had a couple of big knots in it, the right side of my ribcage had a nice long yellow and purple one, the inside of my right leg below the knee also had a good one from the left knee hitting it and my right buttock had (and still has) a really wonderful fist-sized one the color of a ripe eggplant. My shoulder, while it worked, hurt to move in certain directions.
Our vacation was wonderful, despite my injuries. I think the humidity and heat of Charleston acted like a giant heating pad, bathing the sore areas with a soothing comfort. Even the pool of our hotel had water about the temperature of a hot bath, so the aches and pains weren't so obvious. The bed in our room was about as firm as a marshmallow, but that also worked to my advantage, since returning home last night to our more firm mattress exposed the pain in my shoulder more than the other one did all week.
Like the old saying goes, it ain't the fall that kills you. The fall wasn't so bad, just my hurried panic at realizing that I'd done a really stupid thing and the quick anticipation of what might have killed me--that sudden stop at the end. There's an old photo in Life Magazine from many years ago of a very lovely young woman, dressed to the nines in heels and pearls, lying on the roof of a car, which you notice is smashed in the shape of her body. The caption told you that she was an aspiring model who'd gone to the Big City in search of a career, but that in the meanwhile she'd been working as a secretary. Apparently things hadn't gone very well, either in her career aspirations or possibly her love life, and she'd decided to dress up and jump out of a very high building, landing on the roof of someone's car many floors below. The fall hadn't disfigured her face or body, at least not what you could see from the photograph. She just looked like a beautiful young thing who'd gotten tired and decided to climb on top of someone's car in the middle of a major metropolitan complex for a nap. I've always wondered what SHE thought about during the fall; she sure had a lot more time than I had during my comparatively short drop to think about what it was going to be like when the final judgment of the law of gravity was carried out.
So, am I sitting around the house for my last few days of vacation comtemplating the direction of my life and making plans for some big changes? Nah, I'd have to be really busted up to do that, a few bruises and sore spots aren't enough to make me think about dropping everything to become a monk or perhaps go into realty. Actually, Charleston did give me one idea that, while I doubt it'll take place, was tantallizing for a time: GELATO. We had gelato in Charleston, the Italian version of ice cream and even the Dairy Queen vanilla cone I had on the way back just wasn't the same. Gelato is denser and had a much more wonderful set of flavors than anything I've ever had before in any other shop. I now imagine buying some high-end gelato machines and renting a store front to sell gelato, making my fortune in spreading the gospel of tasty frozen treats in the relative backwater of our State Capital. I'd probably have to call it "Luigi's Gelato" or something similar, since no one thinks an old Anglo-Saxon like me would know anything about making Italian ice cream. Then maybe I could franchise, spead it out over the Southern States like Krispy-Kreme and make a fortune during the IPO, then have a big scandal when the investors all lose their shirts. Nope, I'll just enjoy my last few days out of the office and try to figure out how to get over my newly-discovered phobia of ladders to paint the house.