There have been a lot of starts and stops, a lot of attempts, a lot of notes taken, a lot of outlines made. And it has all added up to something, but that something is far short of the definitive meaning or the whole story. So I shall attempt again. I shall keep trying.
The near death experience of Armand’s dad rattled me.
One moment I’m just starting to re-connect with my college “brother” Armand (not to be construed as a “frat” reference– no such organizations exist at Grinnell), just starting to let my hair down, so to speak, and really enjoy myself… And we go out on the ocean on a “Banana Boat”- this inflated tube with handles for a group of about 6 people to straddle and try to stay on top of as it is towed behind a motorboat. We find that all it takes is one good bump over a slight wake, and if one person falls off, the rest are sure to follow, because the banana just goes bonkers… Anyway, so my wife Suzy, Armand, his wife Melissa, and me along with a couple others enjoy the first round, then are returned to the pier and we hang out as another group takes on the Banana. Armand, Suzy, and I are joking, catching up, and what not– conversing, reacquainting… and then the unthinkable happens. Armand’s father, while out with the second group on the Banana, falls off the ride, along with the others, and hits his head on something or someone– I mean, one second, we’re laughing, joking, living it up, and the next second, one of Armand’s friends comes walking slowly by, assisting Milt (Armand’s Dad), and says,” Armand, I think your Dad might have fractured his skull.”
This initiated a sequence of events that led to Armand and his dad being stuffed into a car and driven to the hospital. The rest of us were left to worry and wait. Armand would later recount how he realized that his dad would probably be alright as more time passed. Because the situation became less dire as minutes went by and his dad’s symptoms didn’t worsen. We, however, were left to a wider range of speculation.
We had been hanging out at the beach. They had those stackable white resin chairs at the beach, and people would walk them down into a couple feet of water and plop down on them, lounging in the cool water.
We watched others try to navigate the banana boat for a while, then decided to go for it ourselves. And we had fun. Suzy lost her shoe. But it was a load of laughs.
And then we stood on the pier, Armand, Suzy, Melissa and I, talking, joking, getting to know one another—really just starting to relax into the idea of actually really being on vacation. And then Milt has his accident.
Armand’s mother Kiki was back at the hotel when all of this went down. After Armand and Milt were shuttled away by the banana boat owner in his personal vehicle, we felt lost. What were we supposed to do now? Go to the hospital?
We ended up going back to the hotel and we ran into Kiki in the stairwell. We had to tell her what had happened. We tried to reassure her that everything was being taken care of and that it was going to be okay, but she was shaken and a bit panicked. I think somebody offered to drive her to the hospital and they ended up going from there. Two of the other couples, Mark and Julie and Dave and Laurie, went to the hospital to check on Armand, Melissa, Milt and Kiki. Those who stayed behind changed and went to dinner because it was the only thing we could think to do. We went to the restaurant at the hotel and worried. We chatted and tried to comfort one another. Although we didn’t know each other it was somehow comforting to have this connection. Anyone from the group that came in would wonder how Milt was doing and if anyone had heard anything.
It wasn’t until the next morning when word finally did get back to us. It was good news. Milt was going to be fine. The fracture had occurred in a spot such that it hadn’t put pressure on his brain, so there was no brain swelling. He had missed a severe and dire injury by mere centimeters. So Milt would be ok but would have to remain in the hospital overnight and would miss the blessing ceremony. Being relieved that he was going to be all right we carried on and spent the day at the pool, then got ready for the ceremony. We had a set time to meet at the bus, and it would take us to the church.
Armand, Marc, and the others that had been on the banana boat at the time of the incident spent the next day being deposed by the authorities. The Greek Tourism Bureau doesn’t take too kindly to accidents, and they wanted to get to the bottom of this one.
NEXT: The Blessing Ceremony and the Media