Mother’s Finger

Well, in my attempt to record some family history stories, I find it is easier to type up.  Since this is a form of extra to the journal that I print off to supplement, it will find its way in from here.  This is a letter from my mother in relation to how she lost her finger.   Ironically, I am recording this on her 52 birthday, which is today.
This starts about half way through the letter….
The first of this story takes place the summer of 1957, a little over 48 years ago, but I remember like it happened yesterday.  I had turned 3 yrs old in March of that year.  It was a beautiful summer day and I was out back of our house playing in the sandpile in the shade of the tree next to it.  My dad was mowing the lawn and mom was out back also.  My dad pulled the lawn mower by the back door to the garage and went over to pick up a rock that was on the lawn.  I had watched my dad clean the lawn stuck on the bottom of the mower before and watched him sharpen the blade.  Us kids had been told several times to stay away from the lawn mower.  I watched my dad put the lawn mower by the back door and walk away.  I jumped up and ran over to the mower.  I wanted to see the blade go around.  I figured I could run over and look while my dad walked away and then hurry and run back to the sandpile.  I stuck my hands under the mower to lift it up to look under but something happened and it scared the hell out of me.  I do not know if I let out a squeal or not but I jumped up and ran around the side of the house and to the back door.  I could just barely open the back if I stood up on my tippy toes and really stretched.  After the 3rd try or so I finally got the door open.  The door handle kept sliding out of my hand cause it was slick from red stuff and it was running down the white wooden screen door and then puddling at the bottom.  Once I got in I ran through the house to the bathroom.  I figured if I washed the red stuff away no one would know.  I had done something I was not supposed to do and if I could make it go away I would not get a beaten.  I was not big enough to reach the sink unless I stood on the toilet.  I was trying to wash the red stuff but I had to pee and was dancing on the toilet.  I dribbled in my pants.  I thought I better go pee cause I would get in trouble if I peed in my pants.  So I went and peed and got back on the toilet and finished washing away the red and cleaned up the bathroom.  I could not leave the bathroom a mess or I would get chewed out for that too.  Once everything was OK and in place and cleaned up I opened the bathroom door and went out.  My mom was in the kitchen sitting on the stool.  She wanted me to come to her and I did not want to.  I was afraid I was going to get a beaten.  Mom said “come here and let me see.”  I told her no that everything was ok.  Once again she said “come here and let me see.”  I had my left hand cupped over my right hand.  I went over to her and when I took my left hand away everything was still ok.  She asked me to open my right hand and when I did the tip of my ring finger fell over to the side.  It was just hanging by a piece of skin.  I was then taken over to Dr. Noble’s office.  I do not remember what he did.  I went back to him sometime later and he took the bandage off and the tip that had been sewn on was hard and dark.  I went to the Logan hospital and they fixed it up.  I do not remember what went on there, I just remember going there.  My mistake was washing it.  I washed the weep away.  There was a part of the root of the nail left about the diameter of my pencil led.  It was like a claw to me.  Everything snagged on it.  To this day I caint stand snaggy material.
The summer of 1962 between 1st and 2nd grades I was going to have the claw taken out and have the fatty tissue taken off.  Mom took me over to Dr. Gibbons office in Lewiston.  He did right there in in his office.  He put an elastic around my finger just above my middle knuckle so it would not bleed while he operated on it.  I watched him cut 2 bowed lines around the claw and cut the claw out.  Then he got all the fatty tissue scraped out and sewed my finger up.  He put a gauze pad on the top of my finger and cut the elastic that was around my finger.  From where I was at my hand was eye level and I could see that some of the elastic was still on my finger.  I told the doc and mom that the elastic was still there.  I did not want it in my bandage.  The doc and mom both told me no the elastic fell out cause there was pieces on the examining table.  But who listens to an eight yr old.
Days after the operation I was in the garage and I bumped the rake and when I went to catch it it hit my finger.  It hurt so bad I wanted to cry.  But I never cried.  I tried never to cry or let anyone see me anyway.  I learned at an early age not to cry.  I went in the house and told mom what had happened and she just figured it was supposed to be that way and she would not check it for me.  We had gone up High Creek on the weekend fishing.  I got my bandage wet and dirty and mom decided she better change it.  I was going to the docs next week.  When she took the bandage off my finger was black.  I got taken over to Dr. Gibbons office and he pulled pieces of the elastic out of my finger and it started oozing real thick black-red blood.  The dock did what he had to do and bandaged it back up.  When it healed they would go in and amputate the dead stuff.
Me being a hellion of course I terrorized the neighborhood kids.  I would take the bandage off and chase the kids around while they squealed and hollered.  It never bothered me cause it was my finger.  No one else had a finger cut off.  I was different.  It was fixed up as it is now more or less.  I have not had that 1/2 finger almost all my life.
This story reminds me of a dog we had.  He was a Brittany Spaniel named Freckles.  Dad wanted to dock his tail.  The vet Dr. Erekson put a fat green rubber band.  I knew what was going to happen being had experiences this myself.  The vet just said it would off.  But it did not.  It got all infected with green infection.  We took Freckles to the vet.  Freckles kept trying to bite the vet.  I knew how bad it hurt.  Dad held Freckles while the vet grabbed the tail and snapped in into.  Freckles peed all over dad and the vet.  I felt so bad for Freckles cause I knew what he was going through.  That is one of the most cruel and painful things you could ever do to any animal and I can verify it.
So Paul, there is the story of how I lost my finger.  It is too bad you do not know all the tears shed in writing it.  But you see there is something else in the story too.  No one has ever believed me so you see after 1/2 century I do not care any more right now what anyone believes.  I am not in too good a mood now after writing it.  My eyes are still leaking.
As a mother, I tried to raise your kids the best I could by myself.  You try to teach them everything you think they are going to need to be able to get by in life.  You also know that they are going to have to learn by experience.  You hope everything goes ok and is not too rough for them.  You love them with all your heart and hope they love you in return.  That does not always happen though.  Barriers are thrown up and it is your choice on what you do with those barriers.  You can let them stop you or you can figure out how to get by them.
All my life I have tried to please people so they would leave me alone.  People always want to change you and after time you do slowly change.  But you usually change for defense purposes to survive.  You get to the point where every day is survival.  You do what you have to do but only what is necessary.  The human species is a pathetic breed of animal.  You may not understand now or tomorrow but some day I hope you do.  Your head is not on straight right now.  All I can do is keep my fingers crossed.
You know where your mother is at and if you want her back then help her.  There is so much you do not know.  But remember one thing she loves you with all her heart or what she has left of her heart.  Stop tearing her guts out.  Stop the sarcasm, caller her a liar, cutting her down.  She caint take much more.  For once show her some decency and love.
….There is another paragraph, but it is not as revealing or telling as are the above.  I am glad she took the time to write of these things.  I wanted the story of her losing her finger.  It is fascinating how trauma brands memories into our minds.  There are a few details that do not add up with the story itself, but I am glad she took the time.

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