I have three strong grown-up sons — Jason, Chris and Travis — who can pick me up and carry me around when I need them to. So you think I’m lucky having those boys around? Well, let me tell you a few things before you decide.
For example, I have numerous bumps from the boys helping me into the car but forgetting where my head was. But that’s minor compared to some of the life-threatening things they’ve put me through.
There was the time they sat me in the bottom of a canoe and took me on a nighttime spotlighting expedition in a Louisiana swamp. We observed several wild animals — no alligators, though we knew they were in the area.
Bullfrogs were the most dangerous animals we saw. The frogs couldn’t hurt you, but in the boys’ zeal to catch them in the deep water (and release them), they nearly turned the boat over a few times. When you think you’re going to get dumped into gator-infested water, it brings tears to your eyes. And not crocodile tears, either.
Another time they took me for a ride in a small boat on Jenny Lake in Wyoming. The water was ice cold and choppy, and the wind was up. So they put me in front.
It didn’t take long for a freezing wave to splash over me, from head to toe. My chest muscles locked up, and I couldn’t breathe. I motioned for them to stop the boat but they found my wild-eyed look of panic and distress so funny they couldn’t do anything but laugh for several seconds. When I was hit by another wave, the laughter went up about three magnitudes.
It was about two minutes and four splashes later before the boat stopped. I had them put me in the back of the boat and made Travis, the youngest, get in front. After seeing his face when a wave soaked him, I agreed it was very funny. He started to complain, and I told him to quit being a sissy.
I remember the time we were in West Yellowstone, Mont., when it was 20 below. My manual wheelchair couldn’t make it down the sidewalk because of the snow, and Travis volunteered to help. But instead of remaining on the sidewalk, he started pushing me down the middle of the icy street!
We were already going way too fast when my oldest son, Jason, challenged his brother to a race. We were sliding and fishtailing when my wheelchair turned sideways and almost fell over. That forced Travis to stop. He told me several times over the next two days that he lost the race because, “You couldn’t control your wheelchair.”
|Jason, Chris and Travis Carroll|
Then there was my infamous Baja dune buggy ride, courtesy of my middle son, Chris, down a Utah mountainside trail. I say “trail,” but he says “road.” He’s obviously reality-challenged.
This trail was so steep that, even though the dune buggy was in gear and the engine helped slow it down, the brakes got so hot they almost quit working. Fortunately there were a few not-quite-vertical areas where we could occasionally stop to let the brakes cool.
Another time on another mountain, the Baja wouldn’t start. Jason pushed the dune buggy (containing me) and started it rolling down the mountain road. Although the road was paved with asphalt, there were potholes reminiscent of Florida sinkholes.
We rolled five miles down the mountain, a 1,500-foot drop in elevation, with a dead engine. We had to go excessively fast to have momentum to carry us over a few uphill stretches. Even though we veered all over the road, my prayers (screams) were answered and we avoided a head-on collision with another vehicle or a rock wall.
Those are just a few of the things I’ve experienced/endured/survived at the hands of my three sons. There are many other such incidents that are either too embarrassing or too traumatizing to relate.
So do you think I’m lucky? My sons have enabled me to have several near-death experiences, to see my life flash before my eyes numerous times, and to undergo extensive trauma therapy.
But I know I’m lucky. Lucky to be alive!