It was a typical summer day with bright, blue skies. It was a perfect type of day for a family get together at my Nana and Pop’s house. Going to my Nana and Pop’s house for family gatherings was a very common event when I was younger. I was always excited for these days because they were spent with my two closest cousins, and my sister. In these times I wore knee length plaid shorts, shirts that had phrases like “Little Miss Sunshine” or “Reese's Peanut Butter Cups”, green and pink converse, and my hair up in two pigtails. I was in kindergarten, my imagination was up for anything, and my cousins were on the same page. We would come up with the most extravagant games, and adventures. Whether that was playing in the big pine tree in the front of our nana's yard, pretending we were lost in the woods, trying on all of our aunts high heels and pretending we were adults, making dances on the slippery, old brown tiles and filming ourselves, making colorful masterpieces out of sidewalk chalk, and so much more. My Nana’s backyard was bright green, it had a rock garden with a bird feeder, garden gnomes were everywhere, tomato plants winding up the trellises, and big pine trees outlining the yard. Our specific adventure of this day was conquering the tree right next to the old wooden bench in the middle of our Nana’s backyard. Let me tell you, I was no acrobat or gymnast, but my cousins were. They could flip, dive, climb, and move their bodies in ways that were unimaginable to me, but of course climbing a big tree seemed like the perfect idea!
This adventure was just like the times before I was about to do something where my mom would ask me “If they were going to jump off a cliff, are you going to jump off too?” I probably should have thought of this, but I was six years old and invincible. I remember staring up at the tree pretending and preparing like I was going to climb Mount Everest. Sara, Lucy, and I began our climb. My sister, Molly, was still too young for this extravagant adventure, so we left her behind. We stepped on the unstable, paint peeling, old bench and climbed into the tree. We climbed into the bottom part of the tree, where the branches are still thick, and look like a giant V. Lucy and I followed Sara because she, being the oldest, was in charge. I remember glancing up at my Nana’s porch and seeing my family, not quite sure if they were noticing what we were doing. I was feeling quite confident with my climbing skills, so I decided to go on my own path. I choose to travel down a path with thinner branches. This was my first mistake. I climbed along the tree and felt a bit uneasy. I was higher off the ground than expected. I looked down and saw a black hole of mud, and I definitely did not want to end up there. I traveled farther along the tree and felt the branches shake. It didn’t seem too sturdy, but of course I didn’t do anything about it. Before I knew it my heart dropped, and I felt each finger slip through the tree branch. My elbow and body went crashing into the ground. I’m pretty sure I screamed, and then started hysterically bawling my eyes out. My uncle Fred came to my rescue. He picked me up and carried me into my Nana's family room. He put me in the reclining chair, and I put my arm that I could hardly move on the arm rest. The pain in my elbow was unexplainable, I was so uncomfortable, and my mom was pissed because the last thing she said to my dad was, “Don’t let Madeline climb the tree.” But of course that did not happen. I kept thinking to myself “My arm hurts, my arm hurts, my arm hurts”. It felt like my elbow was being grinded in between a vice and there was no way for me to stop it. It was definitely one of those “I told you so” moments. All of sudden chilled ice packs surrounded my arms and my parents were debating about bringing me to the hospital, this just made me cry even more because the hospital was the last place I wanted to be.
My head was spinning, my heart was racing, and my arm was throbbing.
We quickly drove to the hospital, and went straight to the emergency room. If you have been to the ER, you would know how horrible it is, especially at Lutheran General. The place is jam packed like a jar of sardines. There are so many anxious people in there, and the doctors take so long to see you it feels as if it’s a lifetime. After countless hours of watching the second hand on the clock tick, we finally were able to see a doctor. Turns out I broke my elbow in two places and I would need a cast. They wrapped my arm up in a soft cast, and gave me a charlie brown sling. At this point everything seemed like a blur, and since I was only six, I was exhausted. A few days later I decided to get a hot pink cast that went all the way up to my shoulder, it was a perfect fit for summer! My summer was not spent at the pool or the beach because the doctors did not allow people who have over the elbow casts to be waterproof. They were scared I would “have trouble swimming” which seems understable now, but at the time I was outraged. Taking baths and showers was always a hassle because I would have to wrap my arm in plastic bags and be super careful so I wouldn’t get my cast wet.
My crazy tree adventure created a memory that I can laugh looking back on, but ever since my traumatic tree fall, you will never catch me climbing a tree again.