Start writing here…The year was 1968 and my family was living in Hollywood California.
This was a time when nobody locked their doors at night and your children could play safely outside until the street lights came on.
I was very small for my age and the youngest of six. This occurred a few weeks before my fifth birthday.
It was a normal day, kids were playing outside and some of my siblings were riding their bikes and playing in the courtyard. Well, I wanted to ride on the back of my brother’s bike, but he was playing with my sister Melanie. I remember hopping up and down on the sidewalk bugging my older siblings to give me a ride so my sister Rachel gave in, and I think she was tired of hearing me beg.
Now, our mother told us to never ride our bikes without wearing shoes, but I think sometimes because Rachel was so hard-headed that she never thought those rules applied to her, so she picked me up and put me on the back of her bike with a banana seat and told me to hold on to the sissy bar.
The moment I realized she didn’t have pegs for my feet I got scared.
“No no no! I’m scared, I changed my mind!” I remember telling her over and over, but at that point, she was going to take me for a ride. She told me that it would be fine, just hold my feet out wide’
Well, Rachel had a tendency to sway every time she pumped the pedal and my little legs were teetering back and forth until “Woosh!” My foot went into the bicycle spoke and cut off my toe.
Blood was everywhere and I started screaming so she grabbed me up and ran with blood streaming right past my other siblings and right in the apartment. Oh, the look on my mother’s and eldest sister's face, they were hysterical so my sister Charity wrapped my foot with a towel and ran carrying me outside where we all piled into the station wagon leaving my brother and Melanie at home.
The ride to the hospital was scary, Mom was screaming and honking the horn and my eldest sister was talking a mile a minute while holding my foot above my head, and Charity was stroking my face and wiping my tears, cupping my face so I didn’t see how bad it really was. I think I was in shock because it really didn’t hurt as much until it started to throb in the car.
We must have been a sight. A crazy woman trying to get help and her kids all covered in blood with my foot in the air. Needless to say that they took us in right away.
Going through the corridors I remember the smell of rubbing alcohol and MercuroChrome. They rushed me into a room with a metal table and right away I was frightened, they unwrapped the towel from my foot and for the first time, I saw the mangled mess that was once my toe, blackened by the grease from the chain on the bike.
Mama kept assuring me that everything was going to be okay but the look on her face told me differently, (You see, I lost too much blood.) The doctor asked if she had the rest of my toe so she called home and asked my brother and my sister to go find it.
This is the funny part. So my brother and my sister Melanie walked down the street to where this all happened, they were looking up and down the sidewalk and street when an old lady who was sitting on her porch asked them what they were doing. My brother told her that he was looking for his little sister’s toe so the doctors could sew it back on.
The old lady told him that she saw the toe and put it in a baggy and threw it in the big dumpster, and if he wanted it he would have to climb in and dig it out, so that’s what he did.
After he found it he jumped out, my sister Melanie who was standing there the whole time with her eyes bigger than saucers went with him to the neighbor's apartment to ask his friend's mom for a ride to the hospital.
The second she opened the door she stepped back holding her nose because my brother smelled like trash, so she put a towel on her seat and gave them a ride.
In the meantime, I am still in the room and they are using long needles to numb my foot and I am crying my little eyes out. At one point my mother had her eyes closed so I asked her what she was doing? As my voice skipped a breath she told me to calm, “shhh," she said, “see white light around you, envision God’s white healing light all around you and calm.”
I closed my eyes and tried my best but the pain was too great, so I gripped the sheet and tried to be brave but it wasn’t working, my heart was going a mile a minute and with all that commotion in the room I couldn’t calm down.
By now the other half of my toe showed up and they started preparing me for surgery. I pleaded with my mother to stay with me but of course, the doctors said no, so I started freaking out! My mother felt helpless so she held me one last time.
While I was in her arms I saw a bright light over her shoulder, it was so bright that I squinted my eyes and tried to move her aside to see what it was. A man with long black hair and caramel-colored skin in a long orange robe and a glow from his face, he was standing there smiling at me. Standing next to him was what looked like a beautiful male angel so bright that his light filled the room.
I felt a warmth come all over my body and a sense of peace calmed my heart.
I looked at my mother and told her that she could leave and not to worry, she looked confused so I told her that my guardian-angel was standing right there with another one of my angels. “Don’t you see them?” I asked my mother and Charity, but they didn’t see anything.
She put my hand on her cheek and I told her not to cry because I wasn’t scared anymore.
They wheeled me into the operating room and gave me something that put me to sleep telling me that I would wake up soon.
I remember seeing the doctors and nurses all working on me with a big round light blocking out their faces and I was hearing them talk. My body felt light and I felt myself floating up over their heads and I saw my little body laying there. Looking over to the other side of the room I noticed that man in the orange robe extending his hand and the angel smiled giving off the most calming vibration.
I heard the doctor talking to the nurse and he was telling her that his daughter was about the same age as I was and that he was very concerned because she is very sick and has an important operation that she has to have soon. I looked up at the angel’s face and she nodded her head and smiled.
It felt like only moments had passed when I was being pulled back into my body.
I woke up seeing my mother’s beautiful face smiling and her eyes full of tears.
They told my mother that I would have to have quite a few more operations before I could walk and that I might have a limp. They also said that I was lucky it wasn’t my whole foot being as small as I was.
Well, there were no regular rooms available at the time so they had to put me in the pediatric burn ward. The room smelled weird and it had to be kept cold. There were four other girls in there, some laying in contraptions to hold them still. The only bed they had for me was a big metal crib with bars that went all the way up like a cage.
I didn’t know I was going to be staying there all night, I thought that when my mother said that I would only be there a little bit I would be going home soon. They asked my eldest sister if I could feed myself and of course, I could so she said yes, then the nurse marked something down.
After my family left for the night I don’t think because of all the commotion in the room with the other patients that it truly set in that I was all alone.
There was a girl that stood too close to the floor heater so it set her nightgown on fire, one was playing with matches, and one girl reached over the stove and caught her sleeve on fire.
The girl with the nightgown was laying in a contraption that held her in place and she was watching TV through a mirror because her chin was stuck to her chest. This was all very traumatic for me, I didn’t understand what was going on.
It was time for bed and all of the visitors were gone so the nurses came in and put sandbags between some of the girl's legs so their legs didn’t touch each other in their sleep, and then the nurses put a sheet on them, they cried in pain being moved so when the nurse came to me and asked if I wanted a blanket I thought she was going to do the same thing to me and I already had a stabilizer on my foot, so being scared I said no.
The lights were dim and the TV was off, a few faint moans were made from the other girls throughout the night and I was missing my mom.
The night was long and I was so cold that I started to shiver and quietly cried to myself soaking my pillow with tears when I felt that same warmth I had felt before, I reached through the bars towards the light and someone held my hand. I didn’t feel like crying anymore and my eyes became very heavy and I fell asleep.
The next morning the nurses woke us up bright and early and the hospital was bustling with different noises. An orderly came in and put my food on a tray, she said that it says here that you can feed yourself, and then she left.
There was a stabilizer on my foot and there were bars on my bed so I couldn’t feed myself if I wanted to.
I laid there and it felt like forever since I saw my family and I was hungry. I almost started to cry when I heard a voice. “Hey, you! Little girl, over here.” I tried to prop myself to see who was calling me but I didn’t see anyone.
“I saw you last night,” the voice said, “Who was that by your bed?” The girl across from me was looking through her mirror and moved her foot telling me “I’m right here.”
She asked me again so I told her that it was my angel, she said that she wished she had an angel so I told her that she does, she just can’t see her. I think that made her feel better but that’s what I believed to be true.
My family came and went, leaving me with my own blanket, and the next day I was able to go home. On the way out I insisted on seeing the doctor who was sewing my toe, I said that I had something very important to tell him right away. The nurse thought that was cute I guess, so she called him on the intercom and shortly he arrived to meet us in the hall.
He asked me what he could do for me so I motioned him down to the wheelchair with my finger and said that I needed to tell him something in his ear, so he bent down to my face and I whispered Thank you, then I told him that his daughter will be just fine, I know it! I told him, then I said that she won’t be sick anymore so don’t worry. Then I kissed him on his cheek.
He stood up and stuttered holding his mouth, then he hugged my mom for a long time.
My mother didn’t know what to think, so on the way home, I told her all about my new friends in the burn ward and all the things that happened to me there.
My mother told me as I got older that it never surprised her when I was little because I was always saying things or unexplained things would happen around me.
I miss my mother.
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