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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
540-483-5113
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

There are 12 steps and a not-as-tall landing that connects the upstairs with the basement at our home in Ferrum.

For whatever the reason, I find myself on occasion counting the steps as I descend or as I climb them back to the top. Why I do this, I don't have a clue. In fact, I've asked myself that question from time to time.

It's not like someone is going to come into the house and build a new set of steps. But yet, I continue my habit of counting.

After wife Hazel and I were married I noticed the steps were rather steep, but no more than most homes. I also took note that there was a hand railing on the left side, but not one on the open right side going down.

I once wondered why her former husband had not added a railing on the "naked" side, especially in light of the fact they had four young daughters. I also gave it a passing thought that I would add a railing, but by this point in time the kids had grown up and "flown the coop," so to speak.

Then too, I'm just a wanna-be handyman and not great at building things. I learned years ago that if I start a project, it usually ends my with my trademark on it before I finish. Sooner or later, my blood will be spilled as a result of a tool that somehow slipped.

Sunday, a week ago, I had to call my plumber Dan Long and his brother for their services. The water heater, installed December 2001, sprung a leak on the bottom side. I've been told the life of one is 10-12 years.

"Dandy Dan the Plumber Man" had rid our house of its old copper water line by installing flex-pipe. Then the team of brothers later installed a new modern faucet in our bathtub.

He got the message I left and later that evening called to say he would be at the house early Monday morning after stopping to pick up a replacement unit. True to his word, they showed up and took care of my problem while I was working in and around Rocky Mount.

Wife Hazel called sometime during the morning to report the Long brothers had done a great job and had left. They made sure the worn-out heater was gone as well. That was great news because a defunct washing machine is still in the basement after a new one was installed by Hazel's son-in-law, Roger Brown, his son Brandon and myself.

One day when I can make arrangements to use a pick-up truck with some extra muscle help, the old faithful 20-plus year-old washer will find a new home.

So that Monday evening after arriving home and enjoying supper, I decided to go down the steps to take a look at the new water heater.

That, by the way, is the third appliance we've had to replace in the last three months. A new refrigerator, replacing one that was 40+ years old, was the second purchase. Seems all of the appliances are dying about the same time.

I knew Dan and his brother had taken the old heater outside through the basement door the second I threw the switch to turn on the stairway light. The little switch was in an up position rather than down when I tried to turn on the light, which meant it had been turned off at the other switch in the basement.

By this time, the sun was long gone and the basement was dark. However, there is a collectible stock car racing Skoal Bandit light with a small fluorescent bulb that burns 24-7 and provides some light to the basement when it's dark.

Rather than go ahead and turn the light on at the top of the stairs and then go down the lighted stairway, I opted to on down using the faint light from the Skoal Bandit bulb.

Wrong decision!

For whatever reason, I did not go down the left side with the hand rail. But the biggest mistake was I didn't even think about counting steps despite the fact they were dark.

So fumbling down the open side of the staircase, I stepped off what I guessed to be the last step.

Wrong!

As soon as I stepped down I realized I was in big trouble. I was higher than I expected from the floor.

When my left foot finally reached the concrete, there was a loud pop as my ankle snapped under me toward the inside of my foot. Having played football in high school, I naturally learned how to fall after being tackled to keep from getting injured.

As a small quarterback, I learned in a hurry that the big "giant" linemen falling on top of me could cause much pain and injury if I didn't "go with the flow" of hitting the ground.

So when my ankle gave way, my left shoulder slammed into a metal high chair that had been placed to the right of the stairway against the wall. It has been used over the years by Hazel's children, grandchildren and now great-grandchildren when they come to visit and need it during meals.

While my ankle and shoulder were getting the impact, so did the right side of my tail end! Slamming into the high chair, which also impacted the wall, made a loud noise. Hazel was in the kitchen, the farthest point from me, so she didn't hear a thing.

The pain in my ankle was making my heart hurt. I decided I'd better not move until I assessed the damage...or at least try to. My first thought was that my ankle was broken and I would be wearing a cast or one of those ankle braces during any snow we might receive in the coming six weeks.

That wasn't a good thought. The shoulder and right side of my butt seemed to fare pretty well. Hardly any pain was noticeable. But for the ankle, that was a different story. The pain brought tears to my eyes as I used my knees to get on my feet.

I put a little weight on my foot and when I got use to the increased pain, I applied more pressure until I was able to balance out the load. It didn't hurt nearly as bad now. But then I tried taking a step, resulting in instant and increased pain.

Taking a deep breath, I decided I was going to try what the super athletes do and "walk it off." Yeah, right. Gritting my teeth, I forced myself to walk around the basement. Then I decided to go back upstairs. Using my right foot first, I ascended the steps one at a time, pulling the left leg and ankle up behind me.

I limped into the kitchen and collapsed in a chair as Hazel, in an alarmed voice, asked, "What happened to you?" I explained and she replied, "You need to go to the emergency room and get it x-rayed." "I don't think so," I answered in a firm voice.

There were some more exchange of comments that I won't go into, but I got up and began "walking it off" up and down the hallway.

Finally, I decided to look at the ankle. By that time, it was sticking out like a baseball and had swollen to the point of spilling over the side of my shoe. Deciding there was a possibility it could be broken, I still made the decision not to make the trip to CFMH in Rocky Mount.

I was sure it would be full to overflow with people suffering with the bad kind of flu. Heck, I'd rather wait a day on a broken ankle than settle among a bunch of sick people for a night-long wait to be checked out.

When I took off my sock before getting into bed, I took another look at my twice-the-normal-size foot and ankle. By then it was in color...a dark shade of purple. Needless to say I didn't sleep very well that night. Every time I moved, even slightly, I was fully awakened by the pain in my foot.

Tuesday morning, it took me a while to put full weight on my left foot. My shoulder was sore as was my right hip. I limped to the coffee pot and knew I had to do a lot more walking to see how much my foot and angle would loosen up. I also needed the check to see if the pain was going to increase or decrease.

The more I walked the less uncomfortable the ankle felt. Then I decided to take a super hot, long shower. That seemed to do wonders for the pain and soreness. About 7:45 when I decided to leave for work, I don't think anyone would have noticed my slight painful steps. And they didn't. I did not answer a single question as I ordered my DQ gravy biscuit and found a table to enjoy it.

As the days passed, the pain began to lessen to the point I didn't even notice it anymore.

The area is still very sensitive, especially just below the ankle. And I still have that pretty shade of purple along the sole of my foot. But who cares? Who will see it?

I survived the fall in good shape. What I didn't survive was Hazel's sharp tongue. I honestly got tired of hearing her remarks about "getting older," "not as young as you use to be" and especially, "you could break a hip."

That didn't happen so why bring it up? And besides, I'm going to go back to counting steps to make sure I have reached 13 before my foot is placed on the concrete. And I might even slide my hand down the railing as I go.

But knowing me as I do, I seriously doubt it. I'll just keep on doing what I have over the years and deal with another miscue when it happens.

Well, I am going to order more books as soon as I make some minor corrections to the existing text. I've found a couple of miscues that were not caught in perhaps 10 or more proof-reads by different people. Mistakes are like accidents, they will be made regardless, I have learned. Once corrected, I will attempt to sell the books to a publishing house and hopefully get copies distributed nationwide. This would be my real dream come true! And thank you for reading and the favorable comments I have received. They are appreciated!

It's mid-January and I've got a bleeding heart hanging potted plant on the front porch I didn't take down and it's still blooming. And another pot of petunias is still green.

And last Friday, I removed a big, fat tick from Victory. But from what they are predicting, the weather is doing a 180-degree turn this week.

As they say, if you don't like the weather, just wait a couple of days and you'll get what you want.

Too Funny! Not long ago, a woman from "not around these here parts," came up to me asking about my book and where she could get a copy. After giving her an answer, she said, "I want to ask you a question. Why did you title your book, 'A Night of Makin' Likker,' when it's about moonshine?"

I quickly explained, and thought to myself, what kind of attention would it have attracted if it had been called, "A Night of Makin' Liquor?"

I decided I had made the right decision.

 
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