My knuckles turned white as I gripped the shaking handlebars of my pedal bike. The faster I went the more intense the shaking became. I could feel the air rushing through my short brown hair and whipping my shirt behind my back. At this point I started praying my bike wouldn’t throw me off; it had been known to do that from time to time. Right then I started to regret the bet I had made with a good friend earlier that day. We were the toughest kids in the kindergarten class and, we had to prove it every chance we had. We wanted to see who could race down the main street hill in our little town the fastest. Let me explain this was not just any hill; this hill was “HUGE”! Not only was it steep, it also had several sharp turns. Everyone in town called it “Hospital Hill”. I always thought it was called that because after ridding your bike down it most kids ended up in the hospital. It wasn’t until later I found out it was because the hospital was at the top of the hill. That did make it convenient; after a wreck you only needed to be taken to the top of the hill. Most of the other six year olds in town would walk their bikes down. Not us, we were too tough to be caught walking our bikes.
Of course the safest way to ride down the hill was to stay in your own lane the whole time, although that was not the fastest method. If you wanted the fastest time you would need to ride from your lane across the street to the inside of each turn. This required you to try to stay in a straight line making a zigzag motion as you passed the different turns. This meant that for a moment during each left turn you ended up in the wrong lane and was unable to see what was coming up the hill towards you. It was during one of these left hand turns that I happened to see the grill of a fast approaching car; or rather the car I was fast approaching. The next thing I remember was opening my eyes in my bed the next day.
The rest of the story had to be told to me by my best friend Tom. He had watched the entire thing from a little higher up the hill. Once I hit the front end of the car, I flew over the car and through the air landing on the lawn of a nearby house and coming to rest at the base of a small pine tree. The woman who hit me, or rather the woman who I hit, that’s neither here nor there, ran to the front door of the home whose lawn I lay in. She and the women who lived there soon figured out who I was and called my Mom. Fortunately the town was very small and everyone knew each other.
I was lucky; I had a pounding headache, a few bumps, bruises and scrapes but nothing major. When my mother arrived she loaded her knocked out son in the car and drove home. Whether this event gave me brain damage or not is still under review.
My mother believed that the solution to any illness was a warm washcloth and a good old fashion prayer. Believe it or not it works most of the time, and better than you might think. Don’t get me wrong, my mother never withheld medical treatment from her children, she was had a lot of experienced when it came to childhood injuries. I was the fifth boy in our family of six boys and two girls. If she would have ran to the hospital every time there was an injury she would have lived there. She learned the difference between a hospital injury and a day in bed injury.
When I woke up the next day I didn’t remember a thing. Although, my friend played the entire event back to me a hundred times, he kept telling me how cool it was to see me “superman” over the front end of the car, fly through the air and eat dirt next to the tree. I don’t know what got him more excited the fact that I almost died or that he won the race. He had made it to the bottom of the hill, and I hadn’t therefore he claimed victory. This accident of course did not stop me from riding my bike; well it did for a little while due to the fact that my bike lost the battle between it and the car. This unfortunately was not the first near death bike accident and it as well would not be the last.
Unfortunately my mother had planned to have a big family picture taken the day following my superman experience. You need to understand that getting our family ready for a portrait was not as easy as you might think. There were eight of us… and not all of the boys were as well behaved and mannered as I. Although even after my wreck there was no way I was getting out of the photo. As my Mother said, “Come Hell or high water we will be there as a family”. I looked rather dazed, a little bruised, and had a few rocks and dried blood in my hair; but there I was in the happy family photo.