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Saturday, March 19, 2011

So I'm Thinking of Sandblasting the Radiators

I was raised by people who did not believe in doctors.

Doctors? What do you want to see a doctor for?

Doctors were for when you couldn’t stop the bleeding. Otherwise? You’ll be fine! Try rubbin' a little dirt in it.

“Pearl! Your father’s trying to kill me!”

I remember that day, the day my parents put a wood-burning stove into the basement, the heavy cast iron pipes running from the stove out through the walls to the attached garage and then out and up through its roof.

What do you mean, Why didn't they pay someone else to do it? When they have two arms and two legs apiece? Don’t be silly!

Of course it’s silly to pay someone to do the work that you yourself can do – until your mother yells for you, as mine did, claiming that ol’ Paul was trying to kill her.

He wasn’t really trying to kill her. She just couldn’t keep that cast-iron pipe up in the air while he attached the whatzit to the doohickey and what happened is what happens in a lot of situations: they drop it on her big toe, where, cleanly and with no effort whatsoever, the open end of the pipe cuts to the bone.

I help her to the kitchen, where she sits on the counter with her foot in the sink, the tap running cold as the blood swirls, clockwise, down the drain.

“Ooooh ,” she moans. “Your father’s trying to kill me!” Mom regains her strength just long enough to yell out “Dammit all, Paul!” before lapsing into the moaning again, studiously avoiding the sight of her own blood.

As an aside, there are two things my mother cannot abide: children with runny noses and her own blood.

Your blood? Oh, she'ss fine with that – might even make her laugh in that frightening yet adorable way she has when she is nervous – but her own blood makes her gag.

“We should probably take you to a doctor,” I say. I showed promise, even as a teenager, of knowing which end was up.

“What?" my mother says, coming out of a swoon. "Why?”

“That’s a lot of blood you’re losing there,” I say. “I’ll bet that could take some stitches.”

“Stitches, schmitches,” she says. Mom is nothing if not logical, often with a mysterious old-world accent. “I’m fine,” she says dismissively. “Kevin can help your father with the rest of that lousy stove. I'm out of it. Help me find something to use as a bandage.”

And he did. Kevin helped with the rest of that lousy stove and when it was done, Dad went to the store and bought Mom a pint of mint-and-chocolate-chip ice cream, the kind of treat that passed in our house as an extravagance, an apology, and a declaration of love.

And she shared it.

Because that's what family does: they take on ambitious large-scale projects, try not to bleed on the carpeting, and order up ice cream.

32 comments:

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

a tip before sandblasting...get the ice cream first.
Wait, where would the sport in that be? :)
Pearl, this reminded me so much of my Mom and the large scale projects she'd take on before Dad got home.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I love this story. I think that my favorite posts here are the ones about your memories. Definitely putting this in my Monday links.

Roses said...

Damn this made me smile. I needed it too.

I know people like your mom and dad. They are pretty awesome.

Sioux said...

I would rather hear about one of Dolly Gee's family memories, but oh well...Beggars can't be choosers.

Seriously, everyone can relate to stories like this. And ice cream? It's a salve for everything. (One summer, as a silly teenager, I tried to get tan like my olive-complected best friend. My white-as-a-beached-whale skin would not cooperate, and I got sunstroke. When I felt up to it, a Peanut Buster Parfait from Dairy Queen helped my recovery...Ice cream always hits the spot!)

Dazee Dreamer said...

what was it with the older generation (I'm 53 so older is really older) and their adversion to going to the doctor. I mean, I don't go for every runny nose I get, but damn, blood is blood, is blood. Especially if you can see bone.

Loved that you always got ice cream tho. :)

Eva Gallant said...

Great post! and your Dad? he has my heart with mint chocolate chip ice cream!

Susan in the Boonies said...

Oh, my gosh. I'm worried about you and your toes and your radiators.

On the other hand, you know, it could result in a little incidental dermabrasion, and all the rich women are going in for that these days.

I want it, in fact.

Not enough to sandblast your radiators, however.

Susan in the Boonies said...

P. S. It made my weekend to see your picture as following me!!!! Of course, it took a video that I didn't even make to get you to do it, so, that was a bit of a splash of cold water on my fluffy pink cloud of happiness,(pardon the metaphor smoothie) but, still, Pearl's a-followin' me, and I couldn't be happier!!!

jenny_o said...

We've gotten soft. Or sensible. Or entitled. Take your pick. And we don't have nearly the great scars our folks and grand-folks had.

Chrissy said...

Great story!

Oilfield Trash said...

You just described my parents. Well except with my parents there was a bottle of scotch and a ton of cuss words being used.

Jimmy said...

Old school mentality, I love it.

Gigi said...

Well now, if you run to the doctor for every little thing (like a toe that clearly needs stitches) then you wouldn't have any scars to make up stories about! ;-)

becca said...

love the story and reminded me of my parents why hire someone when you have capable people at home to help

Douglas said...

Butter on 2nd degree burns, or lard (we had a lot of lard), band-aids for any cut of any depth, ice for the bleeding rock injury to the back of my head (the only time my brother's throwing arm was accurate), and gauze, lots of gauze. Road abrasions from the soap box racer for ten that we built and didn't handle well down that hill just meant a bath. My own son became well known at the local ER; burns, chin stitches (twice), broken arm all before he turned 8. The difference between him and me? I had full medical and my father did not. And I was less of a klutz.

ThreeOldKeys said...

Couples Teamwork ... here's how projects go at my house. My logical, articulate, kind man loses his vocabulary, his patience and all memory that he's got a teammate.

I just can't hold the ... the ... Thing straight enough or grab the correct ... the other ... no, the other ... that Whatchamacallit he needs. He shouts for the bucket I've already brought. He yells for clean rags but he has a stack of them. This is a non-fuming man, but oh, he fumes.

Later, yes, ice cream or a cold beer. That's when I notice he's got a bloody gash in his thumb. It wasn't worth mentioning.

Tracy said...

Pearl,
Hah, I think I was rasied in that same family who didn't beleive in Dr. and to this day, if I don't think I'm goingto die, I don't go. I laugh when people ask me what the Dr. has said, when I have bronchitis,which I get quite frequently... etc...Dr? what Dr.? I didn't go to the Dr....
oh well, I like the story you shared and can see it so well!
I also want to congratulate you on your 1,000th post; wow, that is an accomplishment! one worth celebrating with, ummm, let's say, mint chocolate chip ice cream?

KleinsteMotte said...

Well that was just the way we did it too and we passed it on to our kids!

Flea said...

Lord have mercy, woman. Stitches. I probably would have done the same, though.

If I lived near you, instead of in Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plains, I'd help you sandblast those radiators. That sounds like FUN.

Kara said...

This sounds so much like my own upbringing. In my family, duck tape was the medical cure-all. I remember my dad once mending a broken finger with popsicyle sticks & duck tape. And it worked!

Jonas said...

Nine times outta ten, I simply agree/laugh along with your observations.

Not this time, though. I can handle the sight of my own blood. Truly don't matter how much. I've cut fingers to the bone and reacted with curious detachment. Should a drop of blood fall from a loved one!?! Jeez, I simply convulse, sometimes pass out, from the grief/horror.

Ice cream helps with the recovery, though. I'll grant you that.

Mamma has spoken said...

I have a brother that stitches himself up. Seriously, he will take needle and thread and sew himself up the way he thinks it needs to be. Week later, he takes them out. He's one tough bird in more ways than one.

Jerry said...

Self reliant. Honest. Hard working. Ice cream eaters. That's what makes America great.

Daisy said...

This brought back so many memories of my childhood! If the wound was really serious, like when my brother fell through a window and cut his head open, it merited a trip to the druggist for stitches. But doctors were for the "final trip"!
Daisy's Barbara

KaLynn ("MiMi") said...

It's not really the blood that gets me the red meat! Blood, I can handle for a bit. Not an open wound! noooo sir eeee!!!

24 Corners said...

So many gems in this one Pearl..."stiches, smitches", "rubbin a little dirt in it"...all GEMS! Glad your mom's toe stayed connected to her foot!
xo J~

Belle said...

Great story, your dad kills me. Sometimes my accountant dad would try to do stuff around the house. It was always a disaster.
One time he seeded grass for a lawn. The ground was so bumpy you couldn't walk on it without tripping.

Scarlet Blue said...

Have you tried papering the radiators with Anaglypta? It covers all unsightly paint peeling and can be matched to your ceiling.
Sx

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

Love the ending of this "and then they order up ice cream." Fan-freakin'-tastic.

Pat said...

Your Dad was a bit of a menace but I expect he was lovely with it:)

Joshua said...

I sound a lot like your mom in that respect. Vomit, blood, whatever, I have no problems. But if it's my blood, I'm done in.

Cake Betch said...

Lol a friend of mine's father cut his arm so badly on a car engine once that he turned pale and passed out. He refused to go to the hospital though. Just laid there on the couch profusely bleeding.