The Broken Years

Nyel, October 2018

Last night, my cousin Ruth said, “I think our generation has reached the broken years.”

At first I wasn’t sure what she meant.  Was she talking politics or infrastructure or what?  Turns out that she was talking plain old bones.  When I think about it, I’m one of the few people I know in my generation who has never broken a bone.  (Knock wood!)  But already, my son has broken one.  And, I know a number of his generation who are beginning to “break.”

I thought about my parents.  My dad lived to 82 and my mother to 97 and, as far as I know neither had ever broken a bone.  I don’t know about my paternal grandparents, but my Oysterville grandmother, who lived to 76 had never had a fracture or a crack.  My grandfather, Harry Albert Espy, though… another story entirely.

Papa, 1920

Papa (as his family called him or Harry to his friends or Senator to his acquaintences) was a dairy farmer.  His broken bones were all work-related.  His nose had been broken more than once by a the kick of a recalcitrant cow, but his worst accident happened in 1925 and marked the end of his farming years.  My uncle Edwin wrote about it this way:

The accident occurred during the haying season.  Papa was driving his regular team of Empress and Dolly, who were hitched to the double-trees attached to a long rope cable hauling great slings-full of hay by pulley up to the second floor of barn No. One.  Papa was directly behind one of the horses when a single-tree broke and crashed back with great force against his hip-bone.  He was confined to bed in great pain for some time and he showed me the frightful black and blue area that must have been eighteen inches up and down the bone area and half way around the leg. 

A bit later the onset of flu, pneumonia, and finally an asthma condition  put him in bed for a long time and incapacitated him for any regular work for the rest of his life.  When all this occurred he was only in his late forties but he continued to live with his limitations, breaking through wherever he could, until he was nearly eighty-two.

Cast Off! December 2014

Although Ed doesn’t say so, I have always been under the impression that some bones had been broken.  However, as far as I know there was not a doctor involved and, when Papa did recover, he walked normally not with a limp.

And, as far as I know, he survived these “broken years” as Ruth calls them, just fine.  I hope I do, too!


One Response to “The Broken Years”

  1. sandy stonebreaker says:

    My “broken” years were as a grade schooler and early teen. Broke a collar bone playing football with much older boys, several fingers playing league softball, tailbone also playing softball. Nothing for many years so I figure that I am now safe.

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