The String Around My Finger

The String Around My Finger

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The String Around My Finger

I work in a restaurant as a waitress and several days ago a co-worker of mine had to leave work. His ex-wife had called to tell him that their daughter had been rushed to the hospital because of a bicycling accident. He wasn't sure quite what to do. He'd talked to me before he asked the manager for permission to leave. He doubted that it was serious enough to get permission and asked whether or not I thought he should try. I told him that he had to go, and that I thought it was very important that he and his ex-wife be by her side especially considering their recent divorce. From my own experience, I knew that simply having both of my parents come to my aide reinforced the idea that my parents were the ones that got divorced and that, even if they weren't living together, they both would always be there for me.

My parents got divorced when I was two and my younger sister just six months. My sister and I lived with our mother would visit our father two weekends a month and over summer vacation the situation was reversed. As we grew older, our enthusiasm towards those visits with our father waned because, after all, all of our friends were in our neighborhood. We frequently missed friends' birthday parties to visit him. Inevitably however, we always had a great time and were sad when our visits were over and yet happy to come home.

I'd be lying if I said that I never wished that they would get back together and that there were never any times I couldn't wait to show my father what I'd done in art class or a great math test I was particularly proud of. Maybe it was for that reason that as a child I couldn't help feeling slightly abandoned even though he never missed a visit. I thought I'd outgrown that feeling when I was seven and a big first grader. It wasn't until that feeling had vanished that I realized I'd still felt that way. I was in the fourth grade when that happened.

My mother picked us up from our father's on Sunday evenings. On the ride home she told me she had a surprise for me. I knew that she'd rearranged our rooms (she did that all the time; she used to want to be an interior decorator), so I couldn't imagine what my surprise could be.

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When we finally got home, I ran into the house, down the hall and into my bedroom. I had a new dresser and I loved it. It was a grownup's dresser. It was pine and adorned with a wheat motif engraved on the drawers and mirror. I was so excited that I'd almost forgotten to say hi to my puppies who were still barking in the back yard. I ran out the back door slamming it behind me when it literally, and metaphorically hit me. I'd caught the tip of my finger in the door as it closed. My first reaction was to stick my finger in my mouth, but when I saw the blood I decided to run to my mother. She would know what to do.

We both thought that I'd just broken the skin, that she would rinse it, bandage it and it would be sore for a while. However, as the blood washed away under the kitchen faucet we saw that was not the case. I'd lost the entire tip of my middle finger on my left hand. Fearing that I would be noticeably disfigured, but frantic herself, my mother told my sister to retrieve my finger tip from the back door with a wet paper towel. The idea being that it might stay alive and be reattached. Meanwhile Mom looked for a pain reliever. She returned with brandy and begged me to drink it for fear that when the shock wore off I would be in a lot of pain. While I tried to drink it, she tried to call 911 because she was in too upset to drive. She accidentally dialed information and quickly explained the situation to the operator who calmly told her to hang up and dial 911. Her second attempt was successful. By the time Mom was off the phone, my sister had returned crying and to calm them both I was singing "Don't Worry Be Happy" with my finger wrapped in a kitchen towel. We were all relieved to hear the sirens when the ambulance arrived.

During the ride, the medics tried to calm us down and explain what would happen next. First I would go to the emergency room, get one of those gowns and get "comfortable" while my mother registered me and did all of the necessary insurance stuff. While I waited for her to return, the medic stayed with me, told bad jokes and gave me a hospital coloring book but no crayons. By the time my mother arrived, the doctor was there and trying to assess our situation. The doctor decided that he and his staff would have to graph skin to cover my finger tip, they'd have to give a local rather than general anestethic because of the alcohol I consumed, and that I needed a tetnis shot. I understood the tetnis shot part and was not pleased. That by itself scared me, but after my mother explained what the rest of it meant, the graphing and the anesthesia, I was terrified - even after she assured me that I'd be okay. She apologized about the brandy when she told me what local anestethic meant. Then I assured her I'd be okay.

Luckily that was the worst of it. Just then my father arrived and things started to look better. While Mom registered me, she'd also called Dad. There was no way I could get that tetnis shot without him. He always was the one who held my hand when I got shots. Shortly after he arrived, so did the nurse with the needle. She gave me the "it will only hurt for a second" spiel. My father and I just looked at each other; we knew better. He bravely took my hand, and I bravely extended my arm. You may be surprised by the bone crushing strength a frightened ten year old can muster. I was afraid I'd hurt my mother's hand, but I knew my father could handle it. After the nurse left, a new doctor came in and talked with us. He was older and specialized in this type of thing and to my delight stated that the graphing was not necessary. Unfortunately however, the rest of what the other doctor told us was true.

About an hour later I went in for surgery and thanks to the brandy I couldn't inhale anything to put me to sleep like on television. Instead I suffered at least two small needles in my left hand. I'm not sure of that number because they operated on my hand behind a screen and my hand started to go numb after the first prick. I do however, distinctly remember at least two pricks. Th doctor told me what he was doing, but all I could feel was the sensation of cold air pouring over my hand. I was more interested in the pretty young nurse holding my other hand. We talked, and I found out that she was engaged and that she lost her first engagement ring, so now she pins it to her brazier.

Talking with her made the time go by much faster than it actually did. When I came out my mother and my father were there. They told me that I was in the operating room for almost three hours, but you couldn't prove it by me. I might have believed two because I did start to get bored and miss my parents.

I'll never forget the feeling I had when I was wheeled out to the reception area with my heavy boxing glove cast and both of them greeted me. They both told me how proud they were at how brave I was. I realized that I had them both and that even though my mother was a single parent that I still had two.

Now I have a v-shaped scar on my finger tip, and it's still a little more sensitive than my other fingers, but I also have a reminder of how both my mother and my father are by my side when I need them.
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