One of my friends posted a picture of the side of his head to social media. From what I can figure out, he was washing dishes and ran into an open cupboard door with his noggin. I felt sorry for him because I know how much a cut or bruise to the head can hurt. But within a few moments, it made me think of my cousin. Jim was always one of my favorite cousins. He is the one who made sure that Santa was kept alive in my heart when I was a child. He usually said whatever was on his mind, even though it might have been blunt or awkward. I was rather jealous of this trait, I must say! Since he was older, he had the power to say things out loud that I was only able to think.
Jim was the youngest of the first three kids in his generation of the family, and the smallest. I don't know if it was because of his size, but he had a very adventurous, sort of reckless approach to life. When Gram told me stories about the kids when they were younger, Jim was often in the tales I found most hysterically funny. Once, Gram took the three boys to the theater to see a re-release of The Wizard of Oz, but the movie viewing didn't last very long. When the Wicked Witch of the West got on the roof and started threatening and cackling, Jim, who was perhaps four years old, jumped up from his seat saying, "That's it! I'm done!" Gram had to gather up the other boys quickly, because Jim was on his way out of the theater!
Jim was athletic; in high school he was a member of his school's championship wrestling team. He loved to swim and ski and hang glide and ride his Harley, which he wrapped around more than one telephone pole. He never did anything by halves. Anything the bigger guys did, he would go at twice as hard. His injuries became legendary. After he was married, his wife told a story about something that had happened during a recent day of skiing. I have never skied, so please forgive me if I use any incorrect terminology.
From what I have been told, a well-sharpened and waxed pair of skis will cut through the snow on the slopes and enable faster skiing. And being faster would always appeal to Jim. His family members might even say that it helps him get his injury over with that much sooner. So here they were, skiing on a beautiful day, and loving life. His wife got to the bottom of the slope first, and turned to see where he was. When she called him, he answered in a oddly-pitched voice that he had fallen. "Are you okay?" "Yeah, no problem," he squeaked. He didn't just fall, you see, that would not be Jim. He fell spectacularly, his newly-sharpened ski smacking him right between the legs. His wife says that if he ever died in a terrible disfiguring fire or accident, she'd be able to identify him by the scar on a very sensitive body part. Ouch!
One Thanksgiving he was being asked about his most recent experience with hang-gliding. As always, the day had started out to be a great one. Then the wind shifted, and he was unable to recover. Yes, he crashed to earth. The next question was what part of him got hurt this time. When he told everyone that he landed on his head, somebody quipped, "Well, at least you didn't hurt anything important! It's not like you use it very much!" To this day, if I bump my head, I will say I didn't hurt anything important. So Nathaniel, I know it hurts. And I won't say anything mean. But I bet you know what I'm thinking!