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No Catchy Title Just The Rest of The Leg Story as requested.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

After Words… This was supposed to be a short nutshell version about how I almost lost my right leg. I didn’t know how to make it fit the nutshell. Whether the writing was only therapeutic for me, or someone will read it that needs to read it, I extend no apologies for the length.

Several Spark Friends have requested the “Leg Story”. I thought I had blogged it before but can find only allusions here and there.

The Back Story

I graduated High School June 3, 1970. I couldn’t make up my mind between nursing school and beauty school, so I got my first job was making a little money, and enjoying life hanging out with my long-time friends.

There were three of us, me, Max, and Patty Lee. We did most everything together. Max had a cool convertible and we loved to just ride around looking for something fun to do. We spent most every weekend at a Roller Rink in a nearby town where there was also a pavilion with a juke box and dancing. There were also ponds stocked for fishing in the summer time.

Sunday, September 13, Max was supposed to pick us up to go to some boat races in a nearby town, but for some reason she didn’t show up. Pat and I were bored sitting around so I asked my Aunt to borrow her car, and after some stern admonitions from my Dad about driving rules and curfews we were off.

The Roller Rink and park were very busy and parking was scarce. I ended up having to park behind the building next to the stream. No big deal. Lots of friends parked there too. We had a nice time skating and dancing for a few hours then decided to go to a near- by sub shop for something to eat. This was allowed by my Daddy’s rules that were set before we left home.

The sub shop was dead. We had 2 hours to kill before curfew. (Although it took me years to piece together what actually happened that night, I have always very clearly remembered speaking these words). “Let’s go to Williamsport.”

This was NOT allowed by my Daddy’s rules. I knew it, she knew it, but neither of us was going to tattle. How would anyone find out as long as we were home on time?

Here’s the nutshell version.

I was an inexperienced driver, driving on an unfamiliar highway with my 15 year old BFF in the car with me. I don’t remember leaving the city. The accident happened about 20 miles away. The next thing I remember is waking up in a hospital room wondering why I can’t remember anything and thinking I must be dreaming. Every time I opened my eyes I would look at the room door to see if it was still there. If I saw the number on the door I was still dreaming, and I would go back to sleep. I later realized I didn’t want to wake up and find out the horrible tragedy was real.

These are the facts that were told to me when I finally regained consciousness.

While the car was parked beside the stream, a young man who was a friend put a garter snake in the car as a practical joke. I’m sure there was no malice intended but he didn’t think about what could happen. The theory is one of us saw the snake and I took my eyes off the road just as we were topping a hill on a sharp curve. I hit a stone bridge and plunged about 20 feet down an embankment. It took more than two hours to get us out of the car. I, the driver of the car was lying on the shelf at the back windshield with my head out through the back passenger window. Pat was on the floor under the steering wheel.

We were both still breathing, but our injuries were extensive. One of the Drs. Actually told my Mom to quit wringing her hankie and go home and accept the fact that if I lived I would be nothing more than a vegetable. (How cruel) but he was one of a team that saved my life.

Sadly Pat never regained consciousness. emoticon I sometimes still hear her call my name in my sleep.

Now, nearly 41 years later, I still weep as I write this. It never leaves me. Not a day in my life goes by that I don’t think of it. The repercussions of that wrong choice are with me every day.

I feel it in my leg when it pains me and in my jaw when it dislocates.
I see it in the scars on my face and body, and hear it in my deaf right ear.
I don’t dwell on it. I’ve been forgiven by God and those people that matter, and I’ve forgiven myself, but the reminders will always be there.

Today is my day for sharing previous blogs. Here is a link to a blog with a profound video about seat belts.

This link is for a blog I wrote last fall that has a reference to Patty Lee.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    You are very brave. Thank you for sharing your story.
    2551 days ago
    emoticon emoticon

    I was in an accident when I was a teenager. Like you I was the driver but thankfully my friend was fine. I broke my pelvis but it healed and it pains me now and then. Thanks for sharing your experience Ceri.
    2555 days ago
    Wow. Ceri. Thanks for sharing this profoundly heart wrenching story. Sometimes words are not enough.
    2559 days ago
  • HICIM705
    OMG ... what a story. I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend - for the pain that you have gone through both mentally and physically. I'm planning to have my DD read this - she is a new driver and I want her to know that driving is not a 'right' ... and needs to be taken seriously.

    emoticon emoticon
    2559 days ago
    What an incredible story of courage. You have been given the gift of great love, comfort and strength to carry on and continue to make an incredible difference in so many lives. I'm so glad you are who you are today . . . a kind, generous, and patient person who strives to bring out the best in other people. Thank you for introducing me to such a wonderful group of people within the Spark Community.
    2559 days ago
  • REJ7777
    What a tragedy! emoticon
    2559 days ago
    Wow, thank you for sharing. This is an incredible and sad story. I'm so glad you made it and I'm sorry about Pat. emoticon
    2560 days ago
  • JSPIN74
    this took my breath away emoticon emoticon
    2560 days ago
    Thank you for sharing this. You have a lot of courage. I am glad you're with us and part of my team!
    2560 days ago
  • FREES1
    what can be said other than I am sorry that this happened to you and in a way glad too, as you wouldn't be the woman you are today without it...
    2560 days ago
    When I was 16 I was in a car driven by my best friend. We were headed to high school when she clearly ran a light and we were hit by a very large car... we were in a VW bug. There were very grave injuries but we survived. It never occurred to me, my family or her family to hold her accountable or make her feel that the accident was anything more than an accident. It never was an issue, although the man who hit us was devastated by the accident... but unhurt because he had a huge car ... I still to this day recall not one mention of blame or anger toward him at all. I think in our lawyer driven/litigious society we have people who have a belief that no accident or hardship should occur in our lives... and if it does, someone has to pay in some way or another. Assigning guilt and carrying it heavily seems to have great meaning... more so than compassion. Although I have scars and such from that accident, I have spent not one moment believing that she should suffer or feel guilt for what was simply one moment, an inexperienced driver, and a simple mistake that, of course, became quite complicated. I understand that a life was lost in your experience and I do not seek to minimize that at all, not at all, but from your blog I get the sense that you have given this incident every opportunity to teach you all it could and now you have used it again to teach us something about what a small practical joke can lead to.... but in the final analysis.... young inexperienced drivers will continue to make mistakes and get away with them with a "whew, that was close!"... and friends will play not-such-a-good-idea jokes on other friends and get away with it and they will hear, "You jerk, do you know what you almost made me do???" I am very sorry you and your friends and family were not in that group.... but I'm sure your openness about the story has helped someone today even if a parent of one of the Sparkers takes their teen aside and says.... read this... see what can happen if you aren't thinking clearly (and this is really directed at the practical joker, not you or your friend) .... and you may have save someone else from experiencing this.... and teach them that making meaning, not money, from tragedy is the best gift we can give going forward. I wish you peace and I am glad you shared this.
    2560 days ago
    Thank you for sharing your story. I hope the retelling of it had a cleansing effect, at least a bit. You've turned into a wonderful woman, and my appreciation of you has only deepened as I read through this and the two other blogs you referred to. Your description of your walk to the farm was captivating - I felt like I was there walking with you!
    2560 days ago
    I'm so sorry this happened to you. What a tragic thing to carry with you.

    After 41 years, I don't suppose there is anything I can say to impact what or how you think of this event, so I won't say anything about it itself. But I do want to say that I'm honored that you shared something so personal and profound with us. Thank you.

    2560 days ago
    it wasn't your fault. accidents happen all the time. and all the time accidents that could happen don't . you're not God .you don't decide who lives or who doesn't. you don't have to judge and find yourself guilty for an unlimited amount of time . if that person told your mother that you don't stand a chance it means a miracle happened to you. those people usually don't make mistakes and don't comment on these things. some day you 'll probably figure the "why ". I 'm glad you forgave yourself but it wasn't really your fault and I sincerely doubt somebody did really thought that. I was close to death a few times in my life and it's absolutely clear to me that common sense and logic don't apply in these situations.
    emoticon kori
    2560 days ago
    Wow! What a powerful story! Brought tears to my eyes. A hard lesson to learn so early in life. I wish everyone could be spared such grief! emoticon
    2560 days ago
    just emoticon
    2560 days ago
    OH HON !! I am crying so hard for you, your family, Patty's family. How aweful that some boy made such a decision thinking as kids do "This will be sooooo funny !" and of course NOT realizing what could happen.

    As has been said,, the accident could of EASILY happened on the way home ,,as you were told to do, only even worse,,,the car could of hit another car,,,killing who knows who hon. BUT!!! Thankfully you DID make that decision to NOT be in that spot,,,,and therefore it goes unanswered,,but WHO KNOWS how many lives you actually SAVED that night. Maybe even a beloved family memembers who was travelling the opposite direction.

    My pain was from birth, but got 97% worse from the 18 wheeler hitting us. Don't you also wish cars/trucks still weren't invented? I DO !!
    2560 days ago
    I bet the friend who put the snake in the car thinks a lot harder now before pulling anymore practical jokes. I hope you have accepted that it wasn't your fault and don't live in fear of driving with friends in your car.
    2560 days ago
    I am glad that you are here to tell the story and to keep Patty Lee's memory alive. Thank you for sharing.

    2560 days ago
    Oh my gosh... That must have been a HORRIBLE thing to go through at such a young age... It would be awful at ANY age... but mercy... at 16! Oh it pains me just thinking about it! Such a trial. Such a heartache. You really are blessed to be here. And WE are blessed too!
    2560 days ago
    2560 days ago
    Oh! my heart goes out to you. many times we don't consider the consequences when we make a wrong choice. Thank you for sharing your story. Maybe it will impact another. Hugs!
    2560 days ago
    My goodness. Thank for sharing such an incredibly personal story.
    2560 days ago
    My goodness. Thank for sharing such an incredibly personal story.
    2560 days ago
    WOW! What a story. Thanks for sharing "the rest of the story". Glad that you survived & thrived. Sorry for the loss of your BFF. Bright blessings to you my friend. emoticon emoticon
    2560 days ago
  • LAURIE9404
    Amazing that you have overcome so much. You really are a fighter and it's so good that you have come to a good place with the whole ordeal. Thank you for sharing.
    2560 days ago
    incredible story. i tend not to believe it was a 'wrong' decision to leave town, this snake was in the car no matter where you went afterwards, right? could have happened anywhere. maybe in traffic, would have been much worse! and for others, too, no less. the snake was the obvious wrong decision.
    maybe you can learn to make the ghosts of christmas pasts continue on their way... it is like it is, profit from it where you can, make the best of it.
    life is full of trauma, sad but true.
    2560 days ago
    Wow!!!! I am speechless. You are a walking talking miracle and I as honored to know you
    2560 days ago
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