Saturday, April 6, 2013

Ironing the Street with my Back


Work started at 7am; at noon everybody raced home for an hour of lunch break. Mostly I drove people to their place, went home, gobbled down my meal and picked them up again.
It all went fine until one sunny August noon; I had a passenger and was trying to cross an intersection to get from the construction site into the main street. People were in cars, on foot and everywhere. I slammed on the accelerator to get out swiftly before other cars came and was hit full power into my driver’s side.

Next thing I noticed was me kneeling on all fours on the street, searching for my glasses.
My holy glasses! I was blind without them. Miraculously they remained in one piece and within my reach on the street.

People were scrambling and screaming, someone came up, helped me to my feet and led me to the side; sat me on the grass. Fifteen minutes later my Father was there beside me.
Someone had notified him. My car, a red Opel Record with a black top was totaled and that’s what Father saw first.

I was wondering why he knelt beside me and constantly stroke my head, my hair.
Onlookers had told him that I shot out of the car like a canon ball and rolled a good deal along the road. The steering wheel was pulled toward my seat; yeah, I had a lot of strength back then. After all I was a construction worker! Father feared that I must be injured, badly hurt.

He kept asking me:
“Johanna, aren’t you wounded? Isn’t your chest damaged? You must have slammed into the steering wheel?”
I had lost my voice. I was so in shock that I wasn’t able to say a word for hours. I shook my head over and over, saw only fog and marveled what Father was talking about. I hadn’t seen my car. It was reduced to scrap metal.

I wore jeans that saved my butt and legs. But my shirt was ripped to pieces. I instinctively had rolled myself into a ball when I was catapulted out of the car. No seat belts were invented yet. It probably was a good thing; my opponent would have killed me. His vehicle ascended to car-heaven too.
I was well known as a wild speed driver and Father feared that people would be angry; 'That, she had coming'. But no, they defended me in front of him:
“The sun was so bright; your daughter must have been blinded.”

And Father? He never scolded me. No word of reproach!
This was his other side. I demolished a company car but it was not intentional; that’s how he saw things like that. All of us, all five of his offspring, totaled at least one.
My passenger had some bruises and the opponent’s car driver was ok, miraculously.
Ironing the street induced severe burns on my back, feet and arms.

Father drove me to the hospital in Erbach where after my examination he was assured that besides the brutal burns I was ok. I still did not speak a word.

It was the end of my construction career and the beginning of cruel char treatments.

For weeks our family doctor came every day and ripped the bandages off my back while I was screaming and biting into my pillow.
He was Mother’s cousin and we called him Uncle Otto.
Our sweet Uncle Otto! Yet what he did to me was everything but! I begged him:
“Please, Uncle Otto, don’t! Please, at least dampen and soften the dressings a little!!”
“No, Johanna! I can’t. This is the newest we know about burns like yours. I have to rip it off to make new skin grow from the outside in. You don’t want to have scars for the rest of your live. Don’t you?”

NO! I didn’t want ugly scars! Consequently I bit the daily bullet and ended up with the smoothest of a baby’s skin on my entire back from shoulders to the waist line.


Please don't forget to hug your kids tonight!

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Johanna (YooHUNNa)