It was the summer that everything happened. Bob could have dealt with one disaster. It was the way they piled up in an unending collision of disasters that had him feeling punch drunk. First his son rolled the car. That was scary, but Rick wasn’t hurt and the insurance company was understanding. Then the storm knocked out the power across the entire county and dropped a tree on his boat. That wasn’t so bad, he wanted to sell it anyway, but the insurance company was a little less phlegmatic about it. Still, he had fire wood to last him through the next decade. The robbery at the bank his wife worked at was shocking. No one was hurt – physically, but Marsha was one of several tellers who just couldn’t go back to work. At least the disability was a different insurance company.
While all this was happening Bob still had to keep up with his business. He was an agricultural consultant. He travelled through the entire area helping farmers deal with their stress. Grains were at an all time high, but with oil prices up, so was the cost of fertilizer and running equipment. The meat producers were looking at huge increases in feed cost and wondering if it was time to retire. Bob helped them sit down and look at their options and make decisions that were good for them and their family.
Bob was so busy doing his bit to make the world a better place that he really didn’t have time to deal with the pain in his leg that was nagging at him. After all it wasn’t anywhere near his heart. But it didn’t stop; it got worse. Bob found himself driving with his left leg to ease the pain. After a near miss on the highway when he got his feet tangled while trying to brake, Bob decided it was time to visit the doctor.
The doctor wasn’t encouraging. She told Bob to stay off the road or she would pull his driver’s license and set up an MRI. Rick enjoyed being his dad’s driver for half of the first day. Then it got boring. Bob called his clients and apologized for cancelling, then asked Rick to take them home via the electronic store that stocked his son’s new favourite video game. They bought the game and a hot dog from the vendor to stave off starvation. Peace once again assured, at least for the night they arrived home to find the house surrounded by police cars.
In a panic, Bob hobbled to the door to find his wife in tears and the police packing up. The sergeant took Bob aside to explain that his wife had been sure she had seen the bank robber in the bushes. The police had responded to learn that the neighbour’s son in law was home for a visit and had decided to trim the hedge between their homes. He gave Bob a card to direct him to Victim Services, and suggested a change of scene might be a good idea.
Marsha packed her bags and went off to visit her mother and Rick went with her. Bob agreed. An immanent nervous breakdown was much more serious than a pain in the leg, no matter how inconvenient. That’s why he was alone in the house when the pain suddenly flared up and left him screaming in agony on the floor. Fortunately the neighbour’s son in law was finishing up the hedge and heard him. Soon the house was again surrounded by flashing lights while the paramedics carried Bob out and took him to the hospital.
After emergency surgery to remove the gargantuan blood clot in his leg, he talked to Marsha and Rick on the phone and reassured them that he was indeed still alive. Bob was lectured by an endless stream of doctors and nurses about how lucky he was. The social worker was more help. She suggested that he try a convalescent home or similar place rather than burdening Marsha with his care when she needed to do her own work. Bob was looking distastefully at brochures when his boss came in the door.
“You don’t want to go to one of those places,” he pronounced, “They are full of old, sick people. You need to get out in the sun. You want to relax and meet some new people.”
“What do you have in mind?” asked Bob, knowing that his boss always had a plan or several up his sleeve.
“My church runs a camp every summer. They have adults who come as chaplains for the kids. We are short people this summer. You could go sit around in the sun. You get your own cabin, meals and everything. There is even a nurse on site.”
“What would I need to do?” A summer camp certainly sounded more inviting than an old folk’s home.
“Nothing!” shouted his boss, “That’s the beauty of it. You just sit around and let the kids talk to you if they want.”
“Sounds good. Where do I sign up?” responded Bob.
So that is how Bob found himself at Camp Menesetatchi sitting under a tree watching the children play. His leg woke him the first day early in the morning; but the sight of the sun rising over the lake and the numinous cry of a distant loon distracted him from its ache. He got in the habit of sitting on the deck and watching the sunrise. The camp was so good for him that he called and invited Marsha and Rick to come. His wife was glad to escape the loving but smothering care of her mother. Rick had met the girl next door and decided that Grandma needed him.
So Bob and Marsha sat in the campfire circle and learned to sing the Kumbya Blues. They toasted each other with flaming marshmallows, listened to the songs, laughed at the skits, and began to heal.
This is a story I wrote a few years ago for a contest I didn’t win.