When I was in middle school, I climbed 30 feet up into weeping willow by the banks of the Kishwaukee River. A branch broke, and I plummeted head first to the ground.
I broke both my arms, enjoyed whiplash, compression fractures in my spine, and a concussion. I also carved all the gums off my bottom teeth. It was a gory sight. When he came to see me in the hospital, my wiseacre grandpa said, “What were you doing climbing a willow tree? Don’t you know willow trees have soft wood?”
Grandpa didn’t ask what I was doing 30 feet up in a tree. He just wondered what I was doing so high in the wrong tree.
Last month, a big windstorm blew the top off a black cherry tree in my yard. My five-year old daughter Iris was pleased to find a new thing to climb upon. When she reached the top, a mere few feet off the ground, I asked her if she wanted help down. “No, Dadda,” she said. “I’ll do it myself. “
You know where this is going.
I only turned my back for a second, your honor. I swear. Long enough. Poor Iris tumbled from her perch and suffered a broken arm. She’s wearing a bright pink cast as I type this.
I wonder what advice my old grandpa would give Iris, if he were alive to give it. It’s a fact that cherry trees have denser wood than willows, so he couldn’t fault her for that. He’d probably advise Iris to get herself a more attentive father. Not bad advice, Grandpa. But, once again, too late.
I’m Chris Fink, and that’s my perspective.