Last year I wrote a great blog on fireworks. I am going to repeat that blog here today.
Although over the last year I have maybe mellowed a bit this is still my stand on fireworks.
My guest blogger wrote a great blog but forgot to plug in her laptop while she was writing and it turned off. And she doesn’t know where to look for it with open office.As soon as her piece is ready I will post it.
Have safe F4th of July folks.. And please don’t be like my mulletheaded neighbors shooting off fireworks all fricken night. No really 2 am.. boom.. ughhh..
This appeared on June 28th of last year.
Safety is my issue
Posted on 28/06/2010
Been a busy day and wasn’t sure I’d get around to blogging today…
We’ll see if we get this finished or not.
This week every year is always hard for me.
I never really go into details, but for the sake of you the loyal readers I will.
And I will bum you all out.
And I will make you think.
And maybe just maybe it will save a kid or a hand or some body part you might need.
I want to take you back to July 9th 1978
The day was hot and dry. The fields across from my parent’s house had already burned twice that year. Probably from M-80’s shot off by numerous kids in the neighborhood.
My Godmother’s Niece Toby was staying with us as her Mother battled cancer.
This would be her last Summer fighting the cancer battle that she was not going to win in the next year.
Toby and I were pretty much inseparable anyway. So this was a piece of cake. We swam, we baked cookies and we played with Barbies. It was quite a good year. My Godparents were in Bath, England, so we took turns with Toby between my Godparent’s oldest kid, and her Grandmother.
We dressed like every day was a Renaissance Fair at a pool. Long skirts and bathing suits. I t was the seventies. We lived on Mountain Gew and the pool sold hot dogs.
The morning of the ninth was like any other Summer day… school had been out for three weeks and we just did the usual sun tanning and playing with our portable radios on the back porch. We discussed Battlestar Galactica and Andy Gibb. We made plans to see Beatlemania in the Fall. And we really were looking forward to Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Movie.
We were 10!
It was our world.
Toby scored some leftover sparklers off her Brother.
My relatives from New Jersey were visiting. My mom’s cousin Betty and her husband Walt and their six children.
We snuck into the front yard to light those babies up.
First two or three were easy.
They were sparklers right?
On sparkler number three, I felt a spark hit my leg. I leaned down to wipe off the spark holding sparkler off to my side. This bugger was super sparking and one of the sparks jumped onto the back of my long layered Holly Hobby styled skirt.
Toby tried blowing me out as any ten year old would. This just fueled more sparks and soon I was in one giant fireball. She ran screaming into the backyard to a yard full of BBQing family members. Soon I had my Dad tackling me to the ground to put me out with my Brother and cousins helping. My Dad’s hands were burning as he put me out.
My bikini bottom was sizzled to one little waistband and my shirt was a strip of cloth attached to a strip of elastic. The bikini top was melted to my chest.
My Brother and my cousin Karen held me up in the car when I wanted to lie down from the shock. I think my Uncle Walt drove as my Dad was bleeding and oozing everywhere due to the second degree burns across his hands and arms.
We pulled up at Washington Hospital 20 minutes later, as that was the closest Hospital. They had an ambulance waiting to drive me with a Response Team to Eden Hospital in Castro Valley, an hour away. Eden had one of the best Burn Units in the country and I was about to be another one of their statistics.
The first few days were a blur.
Fatten up for surgery was the first goal.
Second, was torture me with ritualistic cleaning of the burns three times a day. Scrub the dead skin with Betadine… Wash in whirlpool tubs and then lather rinse and repeat.
Sometime around then I almost died.
I remember dreaming about Laverne and Shirley and waking up bruised all over both arms due to a flying IV connection.
I was on more drugs than junkies on skid row. I dreamt my cousin read me newspapers when she was holding coffee cups. I watched movies that didn’t exist and the bugs eating my skin were the worst.
I made friends with other burn victims or survivors as we called ourselves. Little Jose was burned when he grabbed a pot of hot refried beans off the counter… They stuck to his skin and had to be peeled off.
Greg was burned when he was lighting M-80’s in his driveway and one landed in a bucket of oil.
Stacy was burned when her car crashed on the bridge and caught fire and when escaping she slipped in the burning oil. Greg and Stacy were both more than 60 percenters and had to have their heads shaved for skin grafts. Greg’s penis was also burned… he was my age.
Stacy was 16, José was 3.
Last was Ruth. A chronic chain smoker. She fell asleep with a cigarette in her hand and burned down her mobile home. She didn’t survive that long.
She was there when I checked out and she didn’t come home after. She didn’t have a place to go home to. She was in her seventies and no family visited her.
I was her new family. We all stuck together.
I remember one night very clearly. I got to take my third bath of the day late because of a great football game between the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots. I watched TV with Greg in my room.
A Raider rammed a player named Darryl Stingly.
He was brought to my hospital.
Surgery was across the hall from our baths, so I passed an unconscious Stingly on my way to my nightly torture. And he would be paralyzed for the rest of his life. Seemed surreal, even for a recently turned 11 yr old. Changed a lot about my thinking. And I still won’t watch football.
The couple of months I spent with these people changed me. I spent my 11th Birthday in there with all my guests and gifts sterilized first. All my friends had to wear masks to visit me that day.
I had a steady stream of relatives and I was hardly ever alone. My cousin Jodie would come at least 5 times a week with Mountain Dew and Taco Bell in hand. My Brother was there every day after work. My Mom and Dad pretty much slept there. They did far worse than I did. Toby was not old enough to visit. She sat outside the windows with signs for me to read. Sending me long letters. She even mailed the young star of Battlestar Galactica to ask him to visit.. He didn’t. I think she mailed Andy Gibb too.
When all was said and done, I had three skin graft surgeries. Each one almost a dare to see if they would take. The first two didn’t. I lost most of my hair as it singed up. And I was forced to eat the worst food possible for a few months. Plus cookies made with double eggs to help me gain weight.
I look back not with anger on that year. I look back and see lessons I should have learned.
I had to visit the hospital daily for months after my release.
Then monthly, then not at all.
I am scarred on 18 percent of my body. My Dad’s hands healed… I still have faint scars on mine. From the waist down I am scarred… Waist up scarred inside. I had lung damage and developed Asthma. I had hearing loss in my right ear form melted wax. But I am alive.
I watch kids on the Fourth of July, with no supervision, playing with sparklers and I cringe.
Mostly, I sit inside and not grieve the loss of part of my childhood, but I grieve for the children who are getting injured every week of the Fourth of July.
I spoke for years at firehouses about the dangers of fireworks to kids who didn’t listen.
Now I just tell my story once a year. If people listen, Hey! I did my job.
This year I told more of my story than ever.
My next door neighbor is mentally challenged. I watched him blow off M-80’s today and it saddened me. I will be here online on Sunday night… Avoiding the noise that is the Fourth.
I used to go to Bob and Susan’s to BBQ in Seattle, but even with friends it was just a punch in the gut every year. It’s a pain I will never forget, though on the outside I appear to have gotten over it.
Please stay safe this holiday season. Thank you.