One Song's Memories

March 28, 2011
I hear those notes on the radio and I can’t help but smile. I remember growing up as a little girl, riding in the back seat of my dad’s old pickup truck. I remember all the times I’d run to my dad when he came home from work and beg him to take me for a ride on the motorcycle. I remember the feeling of sunshine on my skin and the wind on my face as we’d ride past the golden cornfields of my hometown. I remember cruising on the highway and weaving through the winding back roads that found their way through the green forests. I remember passing farm after farm, soaking in the beauty of the world. I think of that one time when I was really little that we saw a double rainbow on the street where we lived, so we hopped in the truck and drove right under them. I remember all the times he’d lift me up unto his shoulders or pick me up and throw me into the pool during the dog-days of summer. I remember all of the times my dad would come home from work and make sure he played Chutes and Ladders with me at least two times before he got out of his suit and tie to work around the house. I think of all the wonderful times I had with my dad when I was a little girl…
But then I can’t help but cry when I think of all the times I almost lost him. The first time, when I was seven years old; he had to go in for major surgery, and one wrong move would mean he’d never wake up again. I remember having to take care of him when I was seven years old. Seven. I should’ve been outside playing in the sun like all of the other children, but my brother and I had to take care of my dad while my mom worked full-time to pay the bills. The I think of the second and third times, when nearly the same thing happened. He needed more surgeries, and although I was eleven years old, it was still hard to cope with.
And then I remember the fourth time.
It was Memorial Day. The sky was bright blue and the weather was perfect. My brother and I marched in the Memorial Day parade, after which my parents went out for a ride on the motorcycle while my brother and I went to the local firehouse for a barbeque. After lunch, my brother went to band practice; I went with him because it was nearby and his friends didn’t mind. I enjoyed it, and the music was pretty good. When we got home we figured maybe our parents stopped for a bite to eat. Not five minutes after we walked through the door, the phone rang; it was my mom, asking to talk to my brother. I figured they were calling to let us know that we’d be on our own for dinner. After all, it was a beautiful day; maybe they wanted to spend more time together. I handed the phone to my brother and took a seat on the couch, about to take my sneakers off. Before I had the chance, my brother hung up the phone. He told me to get in the car. Nothing else. “Get in the car,” he said, “and don’t ask questions. Just get in the car.” By the time we parked in the parking lot of the Emergency Room, I was almost on the floor of the car sobbing. “Tell me what happened,” he told me. He didn’t even look me in the eye. He didn’t tell me anything. He just said “Tell me what happened.” I knew they were in an accident, but what worried me was if they were even alive. Correction: I was worried about if my father was even alive. I had spoken to my mother before; I knew she was more or less okay.
As it turns out, my mother was relatively fine; she had bumps and bruises, her right arm was in a sling, and she had a bit of a limp, but she was alive and walked away with us. But my dad? He wasn’t so lucky.
He had eight broken ribs, a punctured lung, a broken shoulder blade, and a cracked vertebra. He was airlifted to a hospital three hours away. He wasn’t moved into the ICU until an hour after we arrived, and they wouldn’t let me see him. I was sobbing right there in the middle of the Emergency Room of that foreign hospital. I was thirteen years old, my father was under intensive care, and they wouldn’t even tell me if he was okay. I was heartbroken.
At the time I was thirteen years old, and my brother was seventeen years old. He was going to leave for college three months later. If my parents had died, I would’ve become a ward of state; my family members wouldn’t have taken me in. They all lived pretty far away and had children of their own. After the accident, my brother and I became so much closer. One night, when we were eating dinner alone while my mom was visiting my dad in the hospital, he told me that if they had died, he wouldn’t have left me; he would’ve given up his college education, his dreams, and a possible career to stay home and take care of me.
No one will ever understand how much that meant to me.
Now, almost three years later, I’ve never been so thankful. I still have my parents, and although my brother is away in college, I know that he’s still there for me. I’m almost sixteen years old, and even though my parents get annoying sometimes, I don’t mind because I’m just thankful they’re still here to be annoying. I’m so thankful I can still ride on the back of my dad’s motorcycle on warm summer days. I’m so glad I can still beat him and Connect Four or Uno. I’m so glad he’s still there to be like an older-little brother, immature and responsible at the same time.
And you know what? All of these thoughts are brought on by ONE song: “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N Roses.

It's funny what music can do to us.

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