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The Brookemobile

Spa services in SaddleBrooke are convenient. About two miles from the house, within the confines of “the compound,” is Strandz Salon and Spa. There, Mom and I can get our hair cut in a fashionable style, a massage to loosen tightened muscles, a facial to deep clean the pores, a manicure to spiff up the finger nails, and a pedicure to brighten the toes. It is a good time for Mom and me to share a few hours of pampering. Soon, the owner tells me, I can also get Botox treatments. Botox treatments are not on my bucket list of things to do before I die. I hate needles.

But with the spa so close it seems silly to take the car such a short distance. Thelma barely gets her engines warm. On the spur of the moment in mid-August after one of our spa treatments, I decided to “look” at golf cars at Coyote Golf Cars, also within the compound. (They call them “cars” here as opposed to “carts” because, to quote the salesman, Mark, “you pull a cart.” Whatever. Even spellcheck wants to change it to golf “cart.”)

I tend to avoid purchasing toys that require much maintenance. When living in Benicia I had a jet ski. It was fun but maintenance was a pain in the butt. Cort and I had to hook the trailer to the pickup and tow it to the marina. Back it down the ramp, making sure the plug was in the back end so it didn’t sink. (Voice of experience on that one.) Ride it to the gas pump to fill it with gas and check the oil. Have a few hours of fun on the Carquinez Strait or up-delta. Then haul it out again. Hose it down thoroughly to remove all the salt water, making sure to remove the plug so fresh water flushed through the system could drain. Dry it off before parking it in the garage to sit for another few weeks before taking it out again.

I figured with all I have going on at the house, such as continuing to shop for furniture, repairing irrigation lines that the rabbits chew in their search for water, raking javelina scat over the hillside because I don’t like looking at it across my fence, and the multitude of other chores that come with owning a home, I had enough to take care of. I didn’t need one more thing on my list.

However, Mark convinced me that a golf car was easy to maintain. All I had to do was keep air in the tires. If I brought it to their shop once a month they would check the tires, filling them with air as needed. Mark said that when winter arrives, they would be happy to put the curtains on so Mom and I wouldn’t get cold as we buzz around the ‘hood. The only other thing I had to do was keep water in the batteries, filling them once a month with distilled water from this handy-dandy plastic jug that hooks to a hose that fills the batteries. There is a little gizmo that spins as the water runs through the hose. When it stops spinning, the batteries are full. Or, if I preferred, they would fill the batteries when I brought it in to have the tires checked. On top of all that, they just happened to have a nice used one on sale at a very good price. Imagine that! I figured I could handle those two maintenance items, and the car was a pretty color of emerald green with plastic “burl wood” trim. Mom and I would be “lookin’ good” as we cruised the streets.

After taking it for a spin I was hooked and wrote them a check. They delivered it a couple of days later because I had them include new batteries and new tires in the price. Mom and I named her Sally, The Brookemobile.

I have to admit, it is fun zipping around (at a top speed of 25 mph), exploring some of the areas where I wouldn’t take the car. Plus, parking for golf cars is more convenient when we go to the Roadrunner Grill for breakfast or to happy hour at The Preserve clubhouse where we order our favorite: a mouth-watering margarita, blended, with a splash of orange juice—hold the salt.

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A month passes by and I decide it’s time to fill the batteries with water. Seemed simple enough when Mark showed me how, giving me a very clear demonstration.

I roll out of bed in the mornings around 5 or 5:30 to begin my day. I enjoy a few hours of quiet time watching the sun rise above the Catalina Mountains. I’ve seen spectacular morning skies brush stroked in hues of orange, lavender, robin-egg blue, and gray. By about 6:30 this particular morning I’d fed the cats and changed their water. Mom was still in bed. The time seemed perfect to fill the batteries.

I hoisted the jug of water onto Sally’s roof just like Mark had instructed me and pulled the seat up to get at the batteries underneath. However, the seat doesn’t stay in place very well when it is lifted up. As I muscled the seat forward attempting to hold it in place with my elbow while trying to connect the hose from the jug to the water-hose-thingy on the batteries, the jug of water slipped off the roof, hitting me in the forehead. (Because I’m only 5’4”, I couldn’t see that the roof had a slight slope.)

Strange enough, it didn’t hurt much but I thought, “I’m going to have one heck of a headache from this little chore.” Touching my fingers to my head, it felt wet. Looking at my fingers, they were dripping with blood. “Oh, crap. I don’t have time for this,” I said to Sally. As blood ran into my eye, I headed to the bathroom to assess the damage. Upon examination I could see that there was a big “dent” in my head with an inch-long split running towards my eye.

“This can’t be good,” I thought, “but what to do?” Mom was still asleep. I pounded on the door of the casita until she woke up and came to the door a bit bleary-eyed.

Gasping, she said, “Susan, what did you do?”

“Well, Mom, I didn’t do anything. The jug of water did it all. How bad does it look? Do you think I should go to the emergency room?’

“Yes,” she replied. “Right now. You need stitches.”

First I had to keep the blood out of my eye so I could see to drive. Checking the medicine drawer I discovered I didn’t have a Band-Aid large enough to cover the gash so I slapped on two of them after cleaning the area with a bit of peroxide. Ooowee! That smarted!

I didn’t know where the closest hospital was located so I called my next door neighbor, Fred, and explained the situation. He said Oro Valley Urgent Care was only about fifteen minutes away, with the Oro Valley Hospital a few miles beyond. I called Urgent Care and discovered they didn’t open until 8:00, but figured the time I’d spend there would be less than in the emergency room.

Mom wanted to go with me so I drove to the hospital, waiting in the parking lot for about 20 minutes until they opened their doors. The wound was oozing only a small amount of blood by this time. The Band-Aids kept the blood from dripping down my face.

As we waited, I thought about the last time Mom and I were together when I had to have stitches in my face. I was about two years old. My folks were building our first house at the time, with Mom working right beside Dad, working every bit as hard as he was, or more. I was playing outside, looking to get into trouble I suppose, and found it. I tottered into a pile of building material rubbish that would later be burned. In that pile of rubbish I found a window scraper with the razor blade attached. Oh, goody! Something shiny to play with. I picked the scraper out of the pile, ran across the front yard as fast as any toddler could, and tripped, slicing my cheek from just below my eye to just above the corner of my mouth. I was lucky. A smidge higher, I would have a droopy eye. A smidge lower, I would have a droopy mouth.

Mom and Dad rushed me to the emergency room where the doctor on call stitched up my face, without any anesthetic, or so Mom tells me. She said people could hear me screaming down the hospital hallways. The doctor did a terrible job, leaving gaps in the wound. Growing up, the kids teased me something fierce, calling me Scarface, and other unpleasant names, as the tissue along the scar line was raised and quite red. Mom said she would have liked for me to have had plastic surgery but we didn’t have the money.

Over time, the scar has faded, but if you look close you can still see the marks on my cheek where the needle entered. Some of you might have noticed the scar but didn’t want to ask about it. If not, you surely will look for it the next time we meet. It doesn’t bother me anymore; it is part of who I am. And it makes for a good story.

All because of a heavy plastic water jug there’s going to be another scar on my face. What will people think or say? Are they going to make fun of me at happy hour? I doubt it. As we age, hopefully we learn to be more kind to our peers. Plus, our eyesight begins to fail and things aren’t always as clear as they once were. And, it makes for another good story. Right?

Once the doors opened to the facility, I had to wait my turn as people with hacking coughs choked and gagged their way through the morning. No one seemed to be too concerned about the senior citizen with the bloody Band-Aids on her forehead. After completing paperwork that convinced them I could pay for my visit, I was ushered to one of the back rooms, told to lie down, and assured that someone would be with me shortly. (If this accident would have happened twenty days later, I would have been covered under Medicare. Woohoo!)

As I waited, my body covered with a white cotton blanket to ward off a chill, I thought, “Gee, it’s usually Mom lying here in a hospital bed while I tend to her.” I tried not to think about the stitches, about the needle that would weave its way through my skin. I wondered how much it was going to hurt. I really don’t like needles.

At last the nurse practitioner arrived. I explained what had happened. She asked me if anyone was abusing me at home. I guess this is a standard question these days. I told her I live with my mom and three cats. Spoiled? Yes. Abusive? No. She then went on to explain that she would apply a topical ointment to numb the area so I wouldn’t feel the needle puncturing my skin, nor the tug as she pulled the stitches tight. I told her, “Give me plenty of that numbing stuff!” I prayed I wouldn’t pass out during the procedure. I was beginning to feel nauseous just thinking about it.

Seventeen “dissolving” stitches later (they didn’t dissolve so I had to return for a snip and clip), I was good to go. Though embarrassed at the situation, I was glad to have Mom with me. She held my hand, rubbing the uninjured side of my head the whole time I was stretched out in bed. Even at this age it felt good to have Mom by my side in the hospital, giving me comfort. And this time I didn’t scream.