First Essay – Memoir
The Pond Incident
When I was a child I was always told about how strong I was. This was a big deal since I wasn’t even supposed to survive due to having the umbilical cord around my neck. The doctors told my parents that if I survived the first seventy two hours, they would see how much brain damage I had. It wasn’t IF I would have brain damage, but how much. I was to be one of the lucky ones. Not only did I live, but I didn’t have brain damage that anyone could find. I was however, cross-eyed until I was about a year old. I also had every childhood illness before I was a year old. I had chicken pox at three months, German measles at six months, and mumps at nine months. I even had surgery at six weeks old for an abscess in my chest. My family has always told stories of my unusual strength. They were not just about my physical strength but my mental strength as well. I was often told about when I was a year old and my parents found me hanging off the edge of the sink by my fingertips, after I tipped over the stool on which I had been climbing. They told me I never made a sound, but just hung there waiting for someone to get me down. I love the one told to me, when my grandfather lifted me onto the swing set and told me bring my toes up to touch my nose. I would love to be able to still do that! When I was about four, I picked up a baby copperhead from a creek and carried it back to our campsite. My grandfather smacked the snake out of my hand and chopped it all to pieces. I cried over my little snake and didn’t find out until I was older why they had killed it. Hey, I never said I was smart, just strong. When the pond incident happened I was seven years old, walking home from school with a friend in the winter. He wanted to go into the City Park and play on the ice on the “Little Pond”. We had two ponds in our park so we always referred to them as Little Pond and Big Pond. This pond had a pipe on one end of it to keep the water aerated. We headed over to play on the ice and we had a great time for a while. Before we headed home, the boy I was with walked over to the pipe where the ice was much thinner and before I could say anything to him, fell through the ice into the water. He started screaming for help and that he couldn’t swim, so I went over to pull him out not even thinking about the thin ice. The ice broke under both of us and we plunged into the ice cold water. I immediately started trying to get up onto the ice. There were a number of problems that we had to overcome. I had an eight year old kid hung around my neck who couldn’t swim, the ice kept breaking under us, and he kept pushing me under trying to get out of the water. I found out later on this was the classic fear of drowning scenario. I not only had to keep trying to get up onto the ice, but I had to drag him along with me. He was bigger, heavier, and panicked. I had to get us out. I kept trying to get up on the ice, but it kept breaking beneath us. This probably lasted five minutes, though it felt like hours. I kept climbing up and falling back through the ice until it finally held. I was able to get us both up onto the ice and it didn’t break! This kid was a sight. He wore glasses and they were hanging under his chin by one ear piece. To this day I don’t know how he didn’t lose those glasses. He looked like a soaked puppy and later of course I found out I did too. If I thought it was cold in the water, it was nothing compared to how it felt to be in the winter air. I told him we needed to get home so we could get warm, but he told me we needed to go to the caretaker’s cottage. We both only lived three blocks from the pond, so I didn’t see the point. My mom was home and I wanted to be there. His mom worked so I guess it made sense for him to go to an adult. It was a strange sight watching him walking over to the cottage and hollering for me to come with him. I kept telling him I wanted to go home. It was probably the coldest I have ever been before or since. I walked the three blocks to my house. It was so cold I had ice formed in my hair, on my skin and clothes. I remember my dad was home too and as cold as I was, that stuck in my head as strange. He was never home when I got home from school. It turned out he had just stopped by for a few minutes. My mom took control of the situation, stripped me of my clothes right there in the living room and dragged me upstairs. She put me in a nice hot bath, which felt wonderful and hurt all at the same time. I don’t think any of us realized just how cold I actually was. She gave me hot tea I remember, because that was a real treat. The mother of the boy called my mother and told her we were not allowed to walk home from school together anymore. He had blamed me for the whole incident! I will never forget that part. I went to school the next day and looked for him but he wasn’t there. He wouldn’t be back to school for almost a week. My teacher called me to the front of the class. She told everyone what happened, where the boy was and what I had done. She announced I was a hero! I never felt like a hero and his mom sure didn’t make me out to be one. When I look back on this story now, I realize just how lucky we both were. We never walked home together again, we drifted apart as most childhood friends did, but I have never forgotten that day. I hope he never has either and was able to finally admit to his mother the truth of what happened. It doesn’t change anything, but I just hate that his mom always blamed me and had a disliking for me over something that was so important. She missed the most important part of the story. She still has her son thanks to the kid she blamed.