Saturday, February 16, 2013

Filled Under:

Fingers

 
 This is from the third chapter from my memoir. I have been working on it the past few weeks. In this excerpt, I don't think I mention my age. I was six-years-old. I have to warn you, it might turn a few stomachs.

Church got out a 2PM. We changed out of our church clothes. Dad went into the garage, like he always did, and started running power tools. Mom started dinner. Ryan turned on the TV to watch a VHS tape of Star Trek. And I sat on the cement steps just inside the garage to watch Dad work with his hands. I didn’t always do this. Sometimes I spent my Sundays with Ryan watching Captain James T. Kirk and Spock boldly go where no man has gone before. Sometimes Mom pushed a chair next to the counter so I could stand on it and stick my hands in the flower. And sometimes, like on this Sunday, I watched Dad. He asked me a complicated question that sparked a fire of conversation.
“So who’s your girlfriend?” he said, his face in a large grin.
“No one!” I said.
“Is it Taylor?”
Taylor lived on a nearby farm. And yes, I did like her. But she was not my girlfriend. I was just old enough to think girls were attractive, but still young enough to find them scary and strange. Still young enough to say they had coodies.
“No!” I said.
“How about Jessica?” His smile was larger this time. I rolled my eyes and Dad laughed. He picked up a strip of molding, placed it on the table saw, and ran it through. He took a step back, flicked his right hand. His fingers were gone. All but the thumb. It seemed unreal, like something from a movie, and I suppose that is the only reason I was able to keep watching.
Dad held his right hand with the left, blood shooting from the stumps in rhythm with his heartbeat. He didn’t yell for help, nor did he pass out from the sight of his own blood. Instead, he opened the garage door with his good hand, walked across the driveway to the side door of the house to keep from getting blood in the hallway, and calmly rang the doorbell.
I followed him. What I remember best is feeling more curious than scared. I remember the trail of blood drops. That it didn’t seem like enough considering the situation.
Mom came to the door. She was in jeans and t-shirt, her curly bleached blond hair pulled back into a bun. Her hands were wet from washing dishes. She gazed at Dad’s bloody hand, then at the blood pooling on the step. She dropped the hand towel she was holding, and began to tremble.
“What happened?” She asked. “What should I do? Randy, I don’t know what to do.”
She spoke quickly as if she didn’t expect an answer, because what could explain the situation?  Her husbands’ fingers were missing. Dad gave her clear orders.
“Hand me the dish rag,” he said.
She picked it up off the floor, and Dad stuffed it onto his fingers to stop the bleeding. He filched, biting down hard, his jaw flexed as the fabric touched the stumps.
“You’re going to need to get the fingers. You’ve got to find them next to the saw. Put’em in a cup of ice. Then get the Blazer. I need to see a doctor.”
Mom turned and ran into the house. I heard her open the door between the house and the garage. I heard her steps on the cement as she collected his fingers—bloody stumps mixed with dirt and sawdust. Then I saw her through the window rinsing them off with cool water from the kitchen sink. She put them in a mug of ice, and drove Dad to the hospital.
It took nearly 7 hours of surgery, but they were reattached, crudely, the fingers angled at the knuckle. It was past midnight once Dad came home with a large white bandage over his hand that looked like an oven mitt. Mom had to help him with the front door,
I sat on the living room sofa next to Ryan. With us were my Grandfather, Brother Smith, and Brother Burton. Brother Smith raised horses just south of the Provo River. He was a fat man, clean-shaven, with red hair and round face. Brother Burton was short and bald with a quick smile. He worked was the principal of an alternative high school and owned a small ranch not far from our home. They were our home teachers, Elders from the congregation that had been assigned to meet with our family once a month. Every Mormon family has home teachers. Dad was a home teacher too. He was assigned to meet with the Bruin family and the Johnson family. Having home teachers really gave a sense of community, warmth, and safety. I liked it when they came by. I liked how they asked me questions about my life. Usually they just checked in, gave us a spiritual message, and asked if we need any help. Dad always waived his hand, told them we were fine. But tonight, they were there to give Dad a priesthood blessing.
They greeted Dad, and he smiled in return. Dad sat on a chair from the kitchen table that had been placed in the living room. The men stood at his sides.
“What’s your full name?” Brother Smith asked.
“Randy Phil Edwards.”
Brother Burton carefully drizzled a drop of consecrated olive oil on Dad’s crown, placed his hands his head, and said, “Randy Phil Edwards, in the name of Jesus Christ and by the authority of the Holy Priesthood I lay my hands upon your head and anoint you with this oil which has been consecrated, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.” He then removed his hands, and then all three men placed their hands on Dad’s head. Grandpa prayed this time. “Randy Phil Edwards, in the name of Jesus Christ and by the authority of the Holy Priesthood we seal this anointing which has just taken place.” Grandpa blessed that Dad would heal quickly. That he would regain the full use of his hand, that he would still be able to support his family, and that the Lord would speed his recovery. “Please bless my son to become whole again,” he said, “Amen”
The Priesthood these men held gave them the power to heal the sick and afflicted by the laying on of hands, the same power Christ welded in the New Testament. The bible—especially parts about the ministry of Jesus and the early church—offers examples of this power. In Mark, a leper beseeches Jesus to make him “clean” of his disease. “Moved with pity,” Jesus touched him and willed the man to “be clean,” and “Immediately the leprosy left him.” This same power was just used in my living room, to heal my father. I was suspicious of this. Like the story of Joseph Smith, it seemed too magical to be real. But I loved my father and I wanted him to be better. There was a sweet feeling that night. One of comfort that came over the room as those men spoke. I recall feel confident that my father would be healed and could not decide if this feeling was something I brought on by my own desire for his well being or the Holy Ghost giving me comfort.
Once the blessing was finished, Mom cried. And so did Ryan. Dad shook hands with the home teachers using his good hand. He extended his hand to his father, and Grandpa gripped it, and pulled him in for a hug. Grandpa held him for long time, his breath heavy, eyes wet with tears. He whispered something into Dad ear. The only words I could make out were “You’ll be right” and “I felt it.”

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