First journal entry: Saturday morning, 7:30, I’m in the parking lot of the church, site of the 8 a.m. basketball game, for which LG will be cheerleading. I fall. I FELL. My Olympus digital camera flew in one direction. My black suede hobo purse flew in another. My very cool black-framed Prada eyeglasses flew in yet another. Don’t ask me how. I don’t know HOW!!! I’ll have to make up that story later. Just one minute, I’m strolling across the parking lot, the “squad photographer,” ready to take my pix, and the next second, THUD, I’m face-down, shocked, hurt, missing many of my belongings. No tripping, no stumbling, just there I was. I couldn’t move, for a long time. Just taking inventory. Then I finally roll over. OK, let me just say here, that it IS TRUE: the bigger they are, the harder they fall. All true. I hadn’t fallen since childhood, except perhaps in soft snow, and this fall was HARD.
I roll over, sit up, and someone comes over to help, hands me glasses (scraaaaatched), purse, camera. No, don’t need anything, yes, probably some ice would be good, no, just need to sit for a minute. Right knee is potentially in big trouble. Raise leg, bend knee, bend, bend, OK, not broken. Reassure LG. Again, and again.
Later (that woman never did show up with that ice!), I did my job, taking pictures of the cheerleaders (adorable little smunchkins!) doing their thing. Talking with the daddy of one of the other girls, and telling him the legend of my fall, I recounted the story of the elderly Kathryn Windham, a featured teller that I had heard at the National Storytelling Festival one year. She has said that while young people “fall,” or “fall down,” old people “HAVE a fall,” or “TAKE a fall.” So while I was lying there on the asphalt, it did cross my mind, “Hmmm, I wonder if I just FELL, or if, at 40something, I had HAD my first fall?” Oh, the things a girl thinks of when she’s lying prone in a parking lot!
He and I are laughing about this, and the very sweet, very cool other-cheerleader’s-daddy allowed that, oh no, I was way too young to have HAD a fall — I just plain FELL, he said. Well, good. Thank you for that.
In the car going home, LG, who has heard my conversation with her friend’s daddy, calls Jif on my cellphone and announces, “Mama HAD A FALL!” followed by evil laughter. Later the three of us talked about it and I explained to the child how, if she knows what’s good for her, she’ll tell the story of me “falling,” or even the younger version, “falling down,” and she’ll not mention again my “HAVING” or “TAKING” any such thing. So Jif and I educate her thoroughly on these nuances, and we even throw in that when you get REALLY, REALLY old — or DEAD — you enter a whole new category, and may be said to have “TIPPED OVER.”
Second journal entry: Still on the falling thing; but I do have one green hand and two purple-and-green knees, so as long as I’m still a “colored girl” from the fall, I can still pontificate on it. Talking about the seasons of one’s falling life last night in bed with Jif — after arguing over whose knees hurt more (1. How could he possibly win, he didn’t even FALL!? 2. That’s what you do after age 45 in bed, you fight over whose parts hurt more. What, you didn’t know this?) — Jif says that “falling down” is not actually the first manifestation of this occurrence in one’s life. Even younger than that, you “fall-down-go-BOOM!”
Well, that is true, I countered, but there is a stage even younger than that, at which you “get DROPPED!” I add that I know this stage exists, because my one and only baby, for whom I endured all manner of torture to procure, GOT DROPPED when she was only a couple of months old, by HER FATHER!
Well, he says, if we’re going to go there, “Tipping Over” isn’t the last stage after all; you might actually GET DROPPED again at the very end!
Epilogue: It was April before I could kneel, due to the injuries sustained in the legendary fall. The one where I FELL. And you might not think being unable to kneel would be a big deal, but it was. Kneeling is useful for many occasions, and has its place in matters of reverence, convenience and recreation. Don’t take kneeling for granted, friends.