How I Missed the Bite

Oh, it's wonderful to get away from the daily stresses at work by taking some time off and spending the holidays with the extended family. It's a peaceful two weeks spent with my two boys, my daughter, my parents and my brother's two boys. Did I say peaceful?

This year, over the course of those two serene weeks, I was granted the opportunity to spend time at the tastefully decorated and always busy Twin Cities Emergency Room in Niceville, Florida.

The first incident occurred two days before Christmas, as my boys and I spend some time target shooting with the .22s. No, no one was shot, but there was a lot of blood and screaming about impending death!

As my little boy Spencer was waiting his turn on the gun, he stumbled in the sand by the lake and fell down. He was right in front of me, within arm's reach with his back to me, when he fell. As he started to get up, I could see he was distressed since he was swiping at his face with his hands. At first I thought one of the rough pieces of sawgrass might have cut his cheek. As he turned around to face me, he started to say something, and just as he muttered, "It went up my nose," blood began pouring out of his nose and mouth. And it was a lot of blood.

I immediately started asking, "What went up your nose?" and he pointed to the reeds, in full crying mode now that his whole front was covered in blood. Since I didn't know how far it had penetrated, or if it had gone up and broken off, I immediately gathered the now panicked 10-year-old, handed the gun to my brother and started running up the hill for home. The poor guy, who never could take the sight of blood, was hysterical, asking me over and over again if he was going to die. It was a heartbreaker! After running with him on my shoulders as far as I could, I finally gave out and sat him down to see if he could walk. He could, so we proceeded on to the house. Once we got there, the flow had subsided, but I still needed to know what, if anything, was still up there and how far up his nose the stick had gone. If it had gone too far, he could risk a brain injury or infection. So off to the emergency room we went.

Once in the car, Spencer settled down a bit, and after the usual rigmarole, he was given a clean bill of health. Phew!

But my relief was relatively short lived.

Two days after Christmas, my lovely, and previously brilliant, wife, Lori, decided it would be a good idea to skateboard down Dead Man's Hill, a paved cliff that runs alongside my parents' home. I wouldn't ride my bike down this hill if I was 12, let alone ride a skateboard down it in my mid 40s! As she left the house, telling everyone what she intended to do, I said, "If you go down that hill on a skateboard, you're going to wind up in the emergency room!"

Three minutes later, my nephew bursts through the front door yelling, "Aunt Lori hurt herself … bring the car!" At first I thought my wife, who's a pretty funny gal, was having a bit of fun with me, so I walked a couple of houses down the street and looked down the hill. Sure enough, Mrs. Hawk was lying at the bottom of the road. I raced back up to the house and brought the car around to pick her up and assess the damage.

"I think I did something to my knee," she said, "and my wrist hurts pretty bad too." Her knee was already starting to swell, and a golf-ball-size knot was already rising on her wrist. So back to the emergency room I went.

To be honest, I was kind of concerned about my second visit to an away-from-home emergency room in five days with two different family members. I didn't want to face any wife-beating questions.

After a couple of X-rays, it was determined that Lori had broken her hand and lower arm and wrist in five different places and had most likely torn her anterior cruciate ligament in the fall.

Fast-forward to last Thursday night, the day of Lori's surgery to repair her wrist. My buddy Tony Huerta, fishing in the Pelican dead-bait tournament out of Stuart calls me up begging me to come and fish with him the next day. "The bite is going off, and I want you to come down and fish it with us." I didn't know he was fishing in the tournament, but I couldn't go and leave Lori home alone all the next day anyway, so I told him my story and said maybe next time. Huerta and Capt. Glenn Cameron ended up catching 27 on Lo Que Sea - setting the record in the tournament for the most ever released in one day. The 29 boats fishing in the Pelican went on to release 736 sails, blowing the old record of 408 clean out of the water.

And that's how I missed the bite of the century. There's a tiny part of me that's glad I did, however. I would have hated to maybe miss a couple and screw up that great record.