Today is the anniversary of my first date with someone. It was decades ago but the memory as vivid as yesterday. It was a hot day (40 degrees Celsius), unlike a cool 24 degrees today. I was young and foolish. I jumped on the back of his fast motorbike wearing just shorts, a tee shirt and sandals. I had just had a pedicure and did not want my feet enclosed. (Oh! the vanities of youth!) We rode out of Perth to a small town less than 100 kms away. We walked hand in hand and then stopped for scones and tea. I spotted an antiques store and we lingered some more. Soon the sun was waning, we decided it was time to get back to the city. The area is teeming with kangaroos and we did not want to come across one at dusk. Helmets on, we revved up and headed home.
As the sun slipped away lower into the horizon, the tree lined highway was dappled with sunlight. He was doing the speed limit of 80 km/hour, when he failed to take a bend. The bike slipped off the hard road into the soft gravel shoulder. It bounced, twisted and danced in air. I flew over his head like a stone from a catapult, skidding on bitumen like I was body surfing and then stopped with an almighty thud. He held on to the bike for a fraction longer, before it bucked and threw him off, continuing for several hundred metres before a tree forced a stop.
He was also injured and could not reach me, but I could hear his urgent pleas, “Get off the road!” Lying in the middle of a highway frequented by road trains that could not have stopped, his pleas became increasingly frantic. My body moved in slow motion. I lifted myself into a seated position and then bent over laughing at the slapstick comedy of it all. I was obviously in shock. Then I saw my right arm, or rather, what I could see. The laughing stopped.
A nurse who lived on a farm nearby heard the crash and saw the smoke. She raced across the paddock and approached the scene, all sombre, efficient and instructive. She lay me down on the side of the road. She fashioned support from the broken fairing and lay my shattered arm on it. Being Anzac Day, a public holiday, the traffic, fortunately and unfortunately, was light. Unable to leave me, the nurse waited for someone to come by. A truckie finally did. He was unable to call the local hospital. This was the days before mobile phones. He finally got someone in Sydney on the CB radio who phoned the hospital. Being a holiday the staff were all on roster, enjoying a BBQ. By the time the ambulance staff could be contacted, it was over two hours from the time of the accident. By then the pain took over. We headed into Perth with the ambulance wailing. Still in shock, I complained bitterly about the nail polish being totally wiped off my nails on one foot that had dragged along the bitumen!
I spent months in hospital recovering from my numerous injuries and then another four surgeries and hours of therapy before my arm was functional.
Years later I married my date. The father of my children.
Because of that day I have love and laughter in my life. I have family. I am mother. I experience motherhood. The best gift he could bestow.
As the years go by, I know one thing for sure. I wouldn’t have missed that ride, for quids.
Until next time
a dawn bird