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Hawaii - 5 - O

By Stephen C. Schultz

A warm tropical breeze ruffled my hair as if a hand were lightly stroking my head. In the darkness there was a heavy, musty smell of sea and sand. I was in a strange place, without bearing or sense of direction. I sat up in bed, my head throbbing. Shadows of palm trees danced across the wall. Was this a dream? There was the faint sound of another person in the room…inhaling, exhaling…inhaling, exhaling. The large numbers on a clock glowed a bright 3:14am. I stood and walked out the door to the hallway. It was all coming back to me now. I was in Hawaii. I had not adjusted to the time difference and was wide-awake ready to take on the day.

I proceeded down the hall to the bathroom, turned on the light, and there it was. The source of the pain in my head, right at my hairline was a big white bandage with faded blood seeping through the center. I leaned forward, looking at myself in the mirror. My mind drifted to another place in time.

Two weeks prior, I had been standing in my second grade classroom at Westmoreland Elementary School in Eugene OR., listening to dad proceed to tell Mrs. Giles, in a calm but stern manner, “…he is my son and if I want to take him out of school one week early for a summer vacation I will do it and no school is going to stop me.” Never has an eight year old stood so tall, with his chest out, in front of his teacher, than at that moment. Thoughts raced through my head…”You tell her dad! That’s the way to put this childhood institution of pain and suffering in its place! Not only do I get to leave for summer vacation a week early, tell her I want longer recesses as well. And while your at it, let her know that the roll they give us at lunch time for “seconds”…A ROLL…come on, give me a break, that’s not seconds!”

Childhood Memories

The two men of the family walked to the truck, proud and accomplished, and hopped in. The old '62 Dodge started up and I immediately put my arm out the window to grasp the shiny chrome mirror. The route was familiar. West on 18th to Hawkins Lane. Left on Hawkins winding your way to Trillium. Left on Trillium to 22nd. We parked on the street right before our driveway, on the uphill side. The trip had been quiet, just two proud fellas listening to a song by Ann Murray on KUGN am radio.

Looking for something to occupy my time, since I was officially out of school for the rest of the summer, I grabbed a golf club and plastic golf ball. I threw the ball onto the front lawn from the garage. I barely missed the first large oak tree and it rolled to the base of the tree in the lawn. I walked lazily over to the ball, strained with my back swing, and hit the ball. I looked up to see it slice to the right and land by the pine tree just across the big dip in the lawn. I hit the ball back and forth a few times walking around on the lawn in this manner.

Susan, at the young age of five years old, came out of the house and walked onto the lawn. She followed me around for a while, watching her big brother prepare for a spot on the PGA. She asked if she could give it a try. She was ignored, for this amateur golfer was focused. She asked again. Again she was denied. I was in a rhythm. The swing came easy and smooth.

Head down. Eye on the ball. Left arm straight. Proper stance. All seemed in order for my next stroke. I started my back swing, slow and steady to the top. With a swoosh of air and a metallic flash, I swung through the ball. As I turned to follow through, I lifted my head to see the flight of the ball. Before focus on the ball could be obtained, there was a blunt blow to my head. Dizziness set in and disorientation followed. My hands instinctively reached to my head. Staggering from side to side, I tried to make sense of the situation. Bright lights and star like designs flashed through my skull. What had happened? Did something fall from the sky? Did the club break somehow? Was I being abducted by a UFO?

As I staggered forward, I noticed a river rock about the size of a softball lying on the lawn. A thick gooey resin, warm to the touch, was spreading across my palm and running down my wrist. As I pulled my hand away from my head to take a look, I noticed Susan standing there in front of me with a shocked look on her face. In a stunned moment of racing thoughts and throbbing head, I realized Susan had thrown the rock.

I made my way to the front steps. Still dizzy with blood now dripping from my fingers, I managed up the steps and in through the front door. I heard running water in the kitchen, so I stepped around the corner of the red brick wall that also enclosed two fireplaces back to back. One in the dining room and one in the living room. I called to Mom in a trembling and shock filled voice. She turned towards me, hands still in the water and calmly said, ”Go on up to your room, I’ll be there in a moment…and don’t drip blood on the carpet!”

Oh, the comfort of being raised by an RN. Not just an RN, but also a nurse who pulls shifts in the ER. Here I am, an eight year old with blood and for all I know, brains dripping through my fingers. And my mother says, “…don’t drip blood on the carpet.” Well then, maybe it isn't as bad as I think. No parental panicking here. I’ll just go lay on my bed. (The other rule, you must be throwing up to miss a day of school, but that’s another story.)

The warm flow of fluid down the side of my face was now water from the washcloth. Mom had come in my room to triage the situation. This was more than a butterfly bandage could handle. This wound needed stitches. A phone call was made and we took a trip to the doctor’s office. But, it was no ordinary doctor, no; this was Gar Cutler, plastic surgeon.

After laying on the tan colored, padded exam table, bed, bench, whatever those are with the crinkly white paper, I hopped off and looked in the mirror. There it was, the big white bandage in the middle of my forehead. My, that was attractive. Good thing school was out for the summer. The doctor gave instructions to mom on keeping the wound clean. He said the stitches should stay in about two weeks and there should be no swimming. WAIT! Two Weeks?! No Swimming?! But, we’re going to Hawaii!

My eyes slowly come back into focus. There I am in the bathroom staring at that bandage in the middle of my forehead. The tropical air is strong and yes, today is the day. It has been about two weeks and mom plans to take the stitches out. That is also a benefit of having a mom who is an RN. You can get you’re stitches taken out in Hawaii. A few snips with the scissors and some tugs with a pair of tweezers, and I was on my way out the sliding door to the beach. I was none the worse for the ware. I was in Hawaii, with my five year old sister and a big goose egg on my forehead. Now that is paradise. Nothing brings back memories like Hawaii –5-0!


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