We're starting to laugh about it now, but it wasn't funny two weeks ago. My mother's message on my answering machine two Saturdays ago said that my brother had fallen from a tree stand while deer hunting and was in intensive care in a hospital in Richmond, Virginia. The word and concept "helpless" is best defined by what is felt by recipients of news like that. I couldn't race to my little brother's defense from the neighborhood bully. I couldn't be of any immediate help. There was nothing I could do but pray.
What could easily have been a fatal accident, was, praise God, only a very serious one, from which my brother should recover fully, if not quickly. The broken collar bone should knit quickly enough; the six busted ribs will take longer.
As is the custom in my family once immediate danger is past, we have begun the little-recognized, but nonetheless clearly clinical, expression of humorous relief phase in our normalcy recovery. Dad's first question to his second and last son was did he have the presence of mind to attempt any acrobatics on the way down. My aunt asked for reading material recommendations so that she could send him a recovery care package and I opined that safety manuals would be appropriate.
When she overheard my brother telling me over the phone that the deer he shot proximate to his rapid evacuation from the tree stand was "kinda small," his dear and darling bride was clearly heard exclaiming from another room, "It only weighed 43 pounds!"
Perhaps the funniest anecdote was provided by my niece as she visited with her dad in the hospital. She told him that if he was going to do any future tree-stand deer hunting, she would buy him a rope to secure himself. My brother countered that there were nice harness and safety strap systems available, to which she replied, "I priced those--I'm going to buy you a rope instead."