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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Chapter Nine - Links and Knots


***

Every other year, I came back to Kalamazoo from Phoenix to visit the family, and to escape the broiler oven heat of Arizona. I am one who enjoys the journey as much as anything else, literally a matter of planes, trains and automobiles. And taxicabs. And shuttle buses. Rarely would I spend the extra bread for a flight directly into AZO - it was almost always a lot more complicated than that.

In '08, I flew into O'Hare and rented a car for the week, a brand new Dodge Avenger (the smaller cousin of the 4-door Charger). It had sky blue paint, satellite radio and a V6 engine to stomp on... Sweet!

You miss the growing up of your nieces and nephews when you move away from home. They're bigger every time you see them. One of the first things I wanted to do was take Theresa and Charlie to the beach, because it looked to me like he was big enough. On windy days, Lake Michigan gets more than a little choppy; it becomes outright crashing surf, with pipelines and shit, six-foot whitecaps throwing you around in our fresh-water inland sea.

It was a very windy day. Charlie, then five years old, had a "floatie", a big duck-shaped ring with a saddle-seat in the middle that he could put his legs through. It kept him from going through the ring or getting thrown out of it by the indifferent violence of Mother Nature. Theresa and I teamed up. I towed him out to the waist-deep water where the waves break the hardest, and Theresa played backstop behind me if Charlie were to get tumbled... It happens.

We would wait for a wave, just the right one, with Charlie's reddish cheeks bunched up above his tight grin as he watched the waters pitching and rolling toward us. When one reared its monstrous white head, Charlie would pull all the breath into his lungs that he could, and grab ahold tight of his duck as I started to push him toward the irrevocable onslaught.

"Be Brave, Charlie!" I would yell as the swells would suddenly lift him high above the waterline, sending him floating and flying at the same time in an exhilarating upward heave into the air and the spray, his laughter and Theresa's carried away by the screeching gulls battling with the turbulence. "Be Brave!" 

And he was. Absolutely. Every day of his life, Charlie Wolf was the bravest little kid I ever knew.

***

Oneonta, Alabama: October 11, 2014: "A 10-year-old Blount County boy died Friday night in what police say appears to be an accidental hanging... The boy lived with his mother and three younger sisters. They had only been home about 10 or 15 minutes, and were getting ready to go to a birthday party... His mother called out to him that it was time to leave, and the boy didn't answer. When she went into his room, she found him hanging from a rope tied to his top bunk bed... The mother got him down and ran outside screaming for help. Neighbors called 911 and began CPR until paramedics arrived and took over the resuscitation efforts." Here's the link to the whole tragic story:

http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2014/10/10-year-old_oneonta_boy_dead_i.html

***

Stockton, California, January 23rd, 2014: "A big-hearted California 8-year-old boy died Sunday after his play-acting went too far and he hanged himself in his parents’ Stockton home... When the teen went to check on his younger brother, the boy was slumped over near his parent’s closet, one side of a scarf tied around his neck and the other end to a doorknob... The teen called 911 and his mother, who rushed home and tried CPR on her unconscious son. Paramedics also tried to revive the boy before he was flown to a medical center in Sacramento... Police called the heartbreaking incident 'a very tragic accident.'" Here's the link to the whole tragic story:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/parents-grieve-8-year-old-california-boy-accidentally-hangs-article-1.1589671

***

Watton, Norfolk (UK): January 10, 2014: "A nine-year-old boy has died after accidentally hanging himself while playing in his bedroom with his three younger brothers." Here's the link to the whole tragic story:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2537112/Schoolboy-9-dies-accidentally-hanging-playing-bedroom-younger-brothers.html

***

Lancaster, California, June 18, 2012: "But it became a reality for Evelyn Briggs, who entered her Lancaster, Calif. backyard over the weekend to find her 7-year-old son dead, hanging from a tree, as CBS reports in the video below... Briggs explained that she was in the house, and her son went into the backyard to play. Twenty minutes later, the yard fell silent, and she and her other son went outside to check on (him). That’s when they saw his body, hanging from a tree... 'I was screaming. But I realized I have to go grab my baby and so we got him untangled. He fell and I shook him. I did chest compression, CPR,' Briggs said. 'Words cannot explain the way I feel after losing a 7-year-old child. He was so full of life. He had so much more to do and accomplish,' she continued." Here's the link to the whole tragic story:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/18/boy-hanged-on-tree-aaris-conway_n_1606198.html

***

Those are just some of the ones I took from the first page of my Google search. All in all, "accidental hanging little boy" pulled up approximately 995,000 results. So Charlie's was just a few thousand tragic stories shy of being one of a million, at least where Google is concerned. It took the search engine 0.54 seconds to get me the information.

It's not rocket science. It's common sense: Accidental injury is the leading cause of death for boys under the age of 14.

***

Charlie slept in the car the whole way home that day, 45 minutes down M-43. He always did that. Fell asleep in the back seat. Every time.

pH 4.3o.16

***

NEXT WEEK: Chapter Ten - "Alphabetical Order"

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