Not by the reindeer of song, but by the housekeeper in a Chevy. And that was big news in my little burg.
My sister and I spent that particular afternoon at my grandmother’s while my mother played bridge. It was one of the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when first graders such as I were entertaining visions of sugarplums and go-carts. That’s what I wanted, a go-cart with a fast, noisy engine.
As I daydreamed, Viola the housekeeper waved goodbye and left for the day. My grandmother followed behind, to help her navigate around a car blocking much of the driveway. Grandma sized up the situation then motioned for Viola to back up, more, to the right, stop, forward, come on, okay, stop, STOP! Confused and flustered by the wild hand signals, Viola pressed the accelerator instead of the brake and mowed grandma down. Unbeknownst to us.
Viola came bursting into the house, babbling ‘What have I done now? Oh, my Lord, what have I done,’ as she dashed to the linen closet, snatching blankets and pillows and more blankets. Then again with the, ‘what’ve I done?’ I wanted to answer, ‘you tell me,’ but thought better of it. My sister, being older and smarter, went to the window and saw what Viola had done now. My mouth dropped open at the sight of grandma in a snowdrift.
Within minutes an ambulance arrived and so did Big Red, a roving radio reporter in a brown station wagon. Big Red commenced broadcasting from the driveway, reporting the accident in detail to all within signal range. My mom, on her way to pick us up after bridge club, heard the news on the car radio. She headed straight for the babysitter’s house. The babysitter, listening to the radio in her kitchen, donned her hat and coat and waited on the porch for my mom.
In the meantime, my sister and I waited at the neighbors, where we’d been whisked. They plied us with cookies and chattered manically. Big Red finally signed off and left to chase another ambulance. By the time my mother arrived, babysitter in tow, the chaos and excitement had fizzled out. She thanked the nice neighbors and hustled us to the car to take us home, then went to the hospital.
In the end, my grandmother had a dislocated hip and plenty of deep bruising. No serious injuries, no permanent damage. She was back home in a couple of days, stiff and sore and bearing the unmistakable imprint of tire treads on her upper arm. I was morbidly fascinated with that imprint, begging to see it again and again. It was like a tattoo. With raised edges. On my grandma. How cool was that?
Grandma failed to see the attraction.
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