Okay, here's another one from the archives of our family memories. In fact is was New Year's eve, 1975 when I took the young people to the mountains for fun in the snow. I brought my belly sled, and when we climbed the hill for a whack at the sledding path, I volunteered to take the first trial run just to make sure it was safe for the kids. Actually it was my sled and I was the sponsoring adult and felt responsible for the safety of these kids. So my word was law. The sled path had a bend, and we were not able to see the bottom of the hill from where we stood at the top. What we had not calculated was the fact that this was a frosty morning which followed a slushy evening the night before. It seems that someone had used this run for tobogganing the day ahead of us, and in the slushy snow, the rounded front of a toboggan had left several scooped indentations in the slush, which had now turned to solid ice. So when I flopped onto my sled and began to fly down the hill, I was just beginning to enjoy my breakneck speed when I turned the bend only to see these walls of ice the toboggan had created. The last thing I remember was pondering whether or not I could make it between a wall of ice and the trees just to the left of it.
Later one of the kids said I looked like Evel Knievel sailing high over the icy walls of ice. I woke up with a circle of young heads staring down at me. Someone was asking me, "Mr. Keller, are you alright?" I gasped out the honest answer, "I don't know." In a little while I began to struggle to my feet with the help of several strong, young hands. I immediately knew I had broken my collar bone. It felt as though my shoulder was going to slide right off my body and fall on the ground.
The nurse at the ski ER gave me a shot of Demerol and told me to come back for a second one before I left for home. I got the distinct impression that this tough old nurse dispensed drugs as she saw best and whenever the doctor makes his visit to this station he signed approval for those prescriptions.
When I found they were calling an ambulance from Stockton, I told them to call my wife in Modesto. She can make the trip just as quickly from Modesto. So that is what we did. Poor Barbara was preparing for a sleepover for Donna's birthday, which also happens to fall on New Years Eve. The trip was an hour plus, and before we left we stopped at the infirmary for my second shot of Demerol. I need to tell you that I was feeling no pain! My sweet wife, fearing I was blacking out from concussion, kept interrupting her driving to wake me up. I'm sure the ambulance driver would have not been as quick in getting me down from the mountain. At the hospital they asked me why I was there,and I told them I had a broken collar bone. After the x-ray they simply confirmed my own diagnosis, "Yep, you have a broken collar bone." Walking toward the door with a prescription in my hand, the nurse advised me to fill it in their pharmacy before I left. When I told her that I was feeling no pain, she simply asked me, "How many shots of Demerol did you have?" When I told her, she said, "I think you'd better get it filled." As unnecessary as I thought it might be, I had to humor her.
In God's inscrutable plan, that was not yet enough stress for one day. So Jonathan, our youngest, began to show spots on his belly that began to spread over the rest of his body. Chicken pox had also invaded our house. So Barbara had to watch her injured husband, monitor her daughter's sleepover and nurse her first grader with chicken pox all on New Year's Eve. We've had many a memorable New Years Eve to recount, but this one is head and shoulders above the rest.
That night after 11 p.m. all of my elders came to the house to pray with me, and as it turned out, we were praying when the new year arrived. What nobody knew until the next week is that I also fractured and displaced four of my ribs. Little wonder that I felt like I was tearing my back apart every time I tried to raise my body from the bed. One doctor even briefly thought I had punctured a lung. So about the time that our prayer meeting ended, I was VERY glad the nurse had bullied me into filling my prescription.