Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Fickle Finger of Fate

A Healthy
Growing up my younger sister was a bit like my child. I was only five when she was born and a five-year old mom is at a real parenting disadvantage. We were often left to our own devices. Sometimes that involved sitting outside of some bar in the car entertaining each other while Mom and Dad were inside getting sloshed. Other times it just involved fending for ourselves in the world. Even in their absence, there was always food in the refrigerator, soda pop in the cupboard and tons of alcohol in the cabinets.

The summer when Lori was five she was trying to split a popsicle in two with a very sharp knife. When she cut through skin instead of ice, the blood was everywhere. I could see the bones of her finger which, fortunately, were still joined. I knew to put pressure on the wound and tie it with a dish towel until the bleeding was under control. Lori had finally stopped crying by the time I bandaged it with gauze and tape from the medicine cabinet. The skin grew together and her finger healed. Our parents never noticed a thing.

One day on our weekends with our grandparents, our grandma noticed the slightly bloated, immobile appendage and inquired about it. We told her of the accident and how we fixed it. She asked my sister to move her finger (which was an index finger) and she could not. It just hung there on her hand. She had accepted her new reality of a motionless finger without question, as children do.

My grandma told our mother about the finger and soon after a doctor examined it. He scheduled and performed a surgical procedure to tie the tendons back together. While it was healing there was a wire in her finger with a button at the end of it, holding it straight and in place.

Well, my sister's finger healed, the tendons grew back together and after the wire and button were removed it worked again, she could bend it and stretch it out, the way she used to. Which illustrates the nearly boundless capacity for healing and profound resilience of the human body.

The human psyche has this capacity as well. I seem to be spending much of my sixtieth year coming to terms with my experiences and my life. It's not a question of dwelling on the negative. To me it means acceptance, catharsis, making peace with my story and then moving on to the later chapters of my life.