True Grit..grit -- as in gravel.

... the race is not always to the swift -- especially when you can figure out
another way to win.

by Joe Sullivan

She was out buying the family groceries and not there to answer the phone
which rang and rang until the caller gave up and called the next in line, her
husband, who was at work, in his office, and for once not on a plane to God
knows where. He was the one who the nurse told that his youngest son was
at the Emergency Ward at the Melrose-Wakefield Hospital. Please come and
pick him up . She said no, he was not seriously hurt but was quite banged up
due to a fall which he incurred while participating in his event during a track
meet at Melrose High School Field. The meet was for Junior High Schoolers
and as a twelve-year-old seventh grader he was among the most junior of
the juniors.

As he sped along his way he felt quite uneasy, he knew the nurse said that
he wasn’t hurt all that bad but, nevertheless he was mildly anxious as to
what the situation was. This was a very out-of- the-ordinary situation for
him. Usually, it would be his wife who would take the call and be the one
who would face the music at the hospital or the school, or the gym, or the
ball field, or wherever the mishap had occurred. It had become her specialty.
She was the retriever of the injured, the calmer of the anxious, the resolver
of all issues. He would hear about the incident that night when he called
home from Denver, or San Antonio, or Seattle, or what city would you like to
pick? He would be concerned and solicitous, but he would be talking about
old news, a situation long ago that was resolved by his wife, the mother of
the latest casualty. It was different this time. He was the one enduring the
anxiety, and she was the one blissfully unaware.

Finding the injured patient.

After parking his car he went through the inquiry drill at the hospital
reception desk. After  receiving the directions he was on his way to see his
son. He hustled by people laid out on gurneys.  They were awaiting attention from the hospital staff
and looked out at him curiously as he hurried by them.

Finding the room he looked apprehensively in the doorway to see his
youngest son sitting upright on a padded table, his legs dangling down and
both hands on the table edge. He was wearing his track uniform, a pair of bright red running shorts,
a white T-shirt with a large letter M, track sneakers and sweat socks. The sneakers looked enormous at
the end of his skinny legs. What shocked him was the condition of his knees,
they were very badly scraped. The scrapes were long, bloody grooves with shiny black gravel embedded
in them.

His face was even worse, his upper lip was enormously puffed out. Bloody, and like his knees,scraped
with grooves with the embedded gravel. He could almost feel his son’s sting and ache. His forehead and nose didn't escape. Both, badly scraped and bloody but with not nearly as many gravel chips.

The full report.

“What happened?” he said to the nurse who was standing next to his son her
arm around his shoulders in a comforting gesture. She said that he had
been brought in by the ambulance, more as a caution than necessity. People
who were there said he had stumbled, or fell or tripped, or something at the
very end of the race just as the runners approached the finish line She said that
the ambulance driver was told that he had dived across it. Whatever it was,  he ended up
flying out into space  and, consequently, landed
flat on his face and knees and stomach and even slid forward a foot or two.

Horrified by this description, he leaned over, gently took his son’s shoulder
in his hand. Looking down into his puffy face
he said very softly, “You okay, pal?” He got a quick little nod in return.
Looking over to the nurse he said, “Is he?” She smiled and said, “No bones
broken, very badly bruised, his lip will probably puff up a little more tonight
according to the doctor. Don’t try to clean the gravel off because it
will really hurt. As the swelling comes down it will just fall out anyway."

Going home with the brave.

Looking back down at his son, his chest heaved in an exhale of relief. “So
can we go?" he asked. “Yes, you can. Give him another  couple of these just
before suppertime and a couple of more if he has pain tonight.” She
extended a small, brown envelope. Smiling she turned looking into the
battered face and said, “You’re a good soldier, Davey.” Looking back at his
father she said, “He never cried once.”

Sitting in the car on the ride home Davey said to his father, “You didn’t ask

Mystified he turned and said, “Ask you about what, Dave?” The resolute little
face said, “The race.” “What about the race?” he said, still without a clue.
Looking straight ahead out the front window Davey said in an absolute fierce
tone, “I won!”  

July 3, 2015         

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