This blog is not for the light-hearted or easily offended. If either one of those descriptions applies to you, i would suggest you start drinking before you read this blog. A sense of humor is suggested. If you don't have one that sucks for you … find one and get a life!

In which i discuss the accident

I’m 51 years old.  I think I’ve mentioned that before but never mind repeating it because, well very frankly, I look damn good for my age.  But I’m not here to discuss my extraordinary anti-aging ability. I’m here to discuss moments and events that stick with you throughout your life.

I’m not sure whether it’s because I’m losing my mind, or because I take Prozac, or whether I’m just an idiot, but I have so many hazy memories, it’s unbelievable.  Of course, I remember things that I did when my kids were young and things that they said, but many events seem to be surrounded by a fog.  However, there are some moments that will stick FOREVER in my mind with a clarity that is unsurpassed and I’m going to discuss one right now.  You’re not interested?  Tough.

I grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina and my early childhood was spent in the 1960’s.  This was a time of innocence and fun; before the Vietnam War, before the fear and after that Cold War period of paranoia.  Kids spent their days running around with their friends, riding their bikes and playing in the woods.  In fact, we had a huge gong hanging on our front porch and we could roam the neighborhood until we heard the gong.  At that point, we had to head home as it was certainly a summons from my parents.  Homework was almost non-existent and weekends were for fun.  I have two brothers, one older named Brad and one younger named Bruce.  We were all spaced approximately two years apart; family planning at its best.

When I was 7, my older brother Brad spent a beautiful day in March playing outside with his friend Steve.  They were playing with those little green army soldiers…you know…the kind that they had in Toy Story except they didn’t actually talk and move on their own.  How did I know all this?  I spent the afternoon spying on them.  I’ll never forget it because this day was the single-most memorable day of my entire life.  More memorable than giving birth to three children; more memorable than my marriage, this day changed the course of my life forever.  So at any rate, I was spying and they were playing and it was just a typical day. 

Later that afternoon, Brad rode off on his bike to get some gas for our grill.  This was back in the days of charcoal grills and gas was a necessary component of grilling and there was a gas station right outside our neighborhood.  It was no big deal because we rode our bikes everywhere so off Brad went…except…he didn’t come back.

It’s ironic that all the memories I have of this time period are so incredibly slanted towards a 7 year-olds perspective.  Remember, this was before cell phones, even before most families had two cars.  Sometime later, a neighbor came running down to our house to inform my parents that “their son had been hit by a car.” The rest is a blur.  My parents took off and left me and my 5 year old brother alone with the words “grandma and grandpa will be here soon.”  My grandparents didn’t live far away, maybe a mile or so, but we had NEVER been left home alone before.  It was just weird. 

What do I remember about that night?  My grandparents took us out for an ice cream cone; I had lime sherbet which was my favorite flavor at the time.  Then they gathered our stuff and took us over to my aunt’s house.  We loved my aunt’s house and spent a lot of time over there.  They lived less than a mile away too and Bruce and I were best friends with my cousins, so this was a TREAT.  The next day was Sunday and we didn’t have to go to Sunday school!  This was the BEST SUNDAY EVER since we all hated going to Sunday school and instead, we got to spend the day playing outside in a huge sand pile that was at the lot next door because they were building a house and mixing cement.  The entire situation was just getting better and better to me.

I was 7, my cousin was 6 and both my brother and other cousin were 5 and LIFE WAS AMAZING.  We had all been told that Brad had an “accident” but we had no clue what that actually meant.  I mean, who doesn’t have accidents?  I had already had stitches a few times so the word accident didn’t seem to be a particularly big deal to me.  On Monday, I went to school and it was bizarre.  It was like I was a “rock star,” so many people asking about my brother and yet, I had no answers.  I hadn’t seen either him or my parents for a few days.  To say the situation was surreal would be an understatement.  I was in second grade and my teacher was Ms. Tepper.  She offered to have me spend the night at her apartment with her and her roommate to help my parents out.  I’m sure they thought I would love it but honestly, I thought I was being punished.  After all, my little brother didn’t get kicked out so why did I?  I vividly remember that she made me take a bath before bedtime and I never took baths before bedtime. I loved Ms. Tepper as a teacher but I’ve always wondered how this strange evening came to be.  To this day, I think about what a weird and uncomfortable night it was.   

Brad was in the hospital for 19 days.  I didn’t know that but when I sent him this post to read for accuracy, he sent back some facts to accompany it.  Both my parents are deceased so obviously, there are huge holes in my knowledge of all the details.  Back in those days, kids under 12 weren’t allowed in hospitals, but somehow, at some point, my cousin Robin and I were allowed to go visit Brad.  I will NEVER forget that day. We walked into the room and there was my beautiful big brother with half his head wrapped up in bandages.  The car had hit him in the head.  He was, and is, blind in one eye. His nose was destroyed and he has no sense of smell.  He was completely disfigured.  The mere fact that he lived is because he got hit across the street from a nurse who happened to run out there immediately and basically, keep him from completely going into shock and dying.

For me, seeing him like that was the greatest shock of my life, and that’s saying a lot. What do I remember?

I remember trying to talk to Brad as if nothing had happened.

I remember chanting to myself  “Don’t cry Lynn, Don’t cry Lynn” like a litany. 

I remember he had a little stuffed dog that the entire class at his school had signed. 

Mostly I remember it as the day the world ended … and then began again. 

It was the day I stopped crying and I’ve virtually never cried since.  When I was younger I didn’t cry through movies, no matter how sad.  Repression became a sign of strength to me.  Showing emotion was taboo as well.  The tougher things were, the more determined I was to handle it on my own.  I never wanted to be a burden.

The dynamic of my household was changed forever.  If you ask Bruce and me, we would tell you that Brad was ALWAYS in the hospital.  He had so many near death situations where his brain would swell and my parents rushed him to the hospital.  He had numerous surgeries at Duke Hospital and would be gone for what seemed like weeks at a time.  Bruce and I are extremely close, but he’s less close with Brad, because it always seemed like he was angry and I had to step in between my brothers. 

I once asked my mother how much they were gone and she replied “not nearly as much as you think.”  I suppose to a little kid, even being gone a few times a year for a week seemed like a lot.  When Brad emailed me back he told me that he had 19 major operations and was actually in the hospital for about a week each time.  This was all within 7 years, so that’s a lot of hospital time.  Brad has had to deal with a lot.  I’m not going to go into the dynamic of how this changed his life because that would take forever and it’s probably not my place to say.  I merely wanted to reflect on some of the ways it changed mine.

I don’t cry …

I’m incredibly strong…

I’m extremely competent in medical crises…

I’m always aware of the hidden, submerged damage in people…

I tend to use adversity as a learning tool…

I cut through the bullshit…

I’m comfortable in hospitals…

It’s difficult to rattle me…

I tend to look within a person rather than on the surface…

So, there you are.  I’m not sure why I wanted to share this with you today but after being active on the internet and reading so many people’s stories, I just wanted to give you a little insight into my life…

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47 Comments

  1. cprocton
    February 17, 2011

    So horribly sad for everyone and where is the lemonade or the silver lining, or is that just one of those myths? Don’t be mean when you respond.

    • Lynn
      February 17, 2011

      I suppose, the lemonade is how we all survived. Hey, we should have lunch plus I owe Abby some money. Mean? Am I mean to you?

      • Name *
        February 17, 2011

        Sometimes you are not nurturing and kind, and well you just explained why you have to be a hard ass….and don’t we all. Lunch would be terrific and thanks for supporting Abby she was so pleased that you would help her.
        Also will get to your comedy event if at all possible..have got myself loaded up again with too much to do which is a good thing as I am not motivated to do the mundane task when I do not have too much to do.
        Love you and I am always sad about this event and how it really did change the outcome for all of you in not always positive ways. Yes it made you strong and resilient, maybe that is overrated. Thanks for being Brad’s safe harbour! (-:
        HEART!

        • Lynn
          February 17, 2011

          Well, Brad IS my brother so i’m always there for him. I don’t think i’m that much of a hard ass BTW.

  2. Theta Mom
    February 17, 2011

    Lynn – THIS is the kind of blogging where we understand more about a piece of who you are. Going through something like this especially as a young child DOES change you and I can’t even imagine how much it has altered his life.

    Thanks for sharing such a personal experience.

    • Lynn
      February 17, 2011

      Hey, thanks for reading. I had my brother read this before I posted it to make sure he was ok with it. He didn’t discuss this for almost 40 years and it affected him terribly. It’s really not my story to tell though. Yeah, occasionally I tell people about my formation. I’m pretty open but people really seem to enjoy the humor but every once in a while, I like to say something real. And BTW, Happy Birthday!!!

  3. Abby
    February 17, 2011

    Okay, from a technical perspective: very strong metaphors, well conveyed denotations. I can really tell how strong the emotions run for you with this story.

    From an emotional perspective: it must have taken a lot of courage to see your big brother like that and be strong for him. Often times, our older siblings are our heroes so the fact that you managed (at 7! what?!) to put on a brave face for him and make it seem like nothing happened was nothing short of amazing. People in the hospital don’t want pity, I think, just company– so well done.

    From a humor perspective: yes, do lunch and I’ll take that money. (Lol, I know it’s not me.)

    • Lynn
      February 17, 2011

      Hahaha…that would be my sister in law and my niece. The money was for charity. I’ll let her know that I’m giving it to you instead. Hahaha

  4. Brad Procton
    February 17, 2011

    This has taken you a long time to write and I am very proud of you for having revealed in yourself what the silver lining is. This has made all three of us very very strong and very very resilient. You are the rock of the family and you offer the one safe harbor for both Bruce and me. I know how hard this was to write and I understand how it has affected so many things about you. The thing is…….it has made you the person that you are and that’s not a bad thing. Keep throwing out the bouquets and brickbats. Someone important might be reading.

    Love you…….

    Brad

    • Lynn
      February 17, 2011

      hahaha…thanks Brad…and i love you too! Pretty soon my Bill Maher letter will come out and then…watch out world!!!

  5. Carla E. Knight
    February 17, 2011

    The first Procton I met was Brad. I was warned before I met him that he had serious scarring from an injury, but to be honest I hardly noticed. Brad is such an unusual personality that his physical appearance becomes just another part of who he is for me. After I met the rest of the Procton family, it helped me understand how Brad became who he is. I know his accident affected the entire family. Oh, and Cathy you are part of the lemonade or the silver lining, in my opinion.

    • Lynn
      February 17, 2011

      Yeah, it was a pretty big deal around here. And Cathy is the lemonade, no doubt!

  6. Julie
    February 17, 2011

    What an amazing read. Thank you for sharing it. I am new to your blog and look forward to starting my day with a little fook. Your discription of playing outside took me back! We had a dinner bell that my mom rang when it was time to come inside. God forbid anyone was late for dinner! Thank you again for sharing this story.

    • Lynn
      February 17, 2011

      I’m so glad you’re reading and i’m happy you liked the story. Sometimes i’m serious but really, not too often.

  7. Casey
    February 17, 2011

    Oh, man, I am so sorry. Such a hard thing for a little girl to go through. My mom died in a car accident when I was 5. That day is the first day in my memory, like I blocked her out to survive the shock or something.

    Difference with me is I cried like a baby last night due to the death of my brother in law of the last 30 years.

    What a wimp I am!

    Cheers,

    Casey

    • Lynn
      February 17, 2011

      Wow…that’s rough. I’m sorry about your mom and i’m really, really sorry about your BIL last night. That’s gotta be rough. :(

  8. Theresa Sonoda
    February 17, 2011

    Lynn; You know I’m a huge fan of your blog, but this post just blew me away. For you to share such an intimate and painful time in your family’s life, and then bare your soul to explain why you are you……well that’s just amazing in my book. I see your strength in your writing, and have, on several occasions, wished I had your wit and attitude. Thanks for sharing with us. You Rock, as usual.

    • Lynn
      February 17, 2011

      Thank you, i really appreciate it. I debated whether to put in a post that was so serious, not because i have anything to hide, but just because people always expect me to be funny. I’m sure one of the reasons i find humor in everything is due to the way i grew up. Thanks for the comment.

  9. By Word of Mouth Musings
    February 17, 2011

    We should share lime sherbet next time we are together …

    I like to share these moments with you, this other side that makes you the person you are … not just the one you show the world, all badass and tough … its good to know you have a balance …
    even if Prozac helps keep it in check ;)

    Awesome post, love that your brother commented, his lines are laced with love.

    • Lynn
      February 17, 2011

      Well, now I’m a chocolate person although I still do like lime. I am a badass but I have plenty of life experience to back it up!! I show the world my other side too, don’t I? I’m always offering advice and helping kinda. Lots of love and thanks for commenting.

  10. annie
    February 17, 2011

    What an touching post! It’s amazing the smallest details that stick with us through life. You wrote them all so vividly!

    • Lynn
      February 17, 2011

      It’s weird, I have the most difficult time remembering some things but that day, I remember with total clarity. My normal became different.

  11. Name *
    February 17, 2011

    You know, Lynn..if we don’t write of these things…we forget them.

    Little by little, we do, esp. if there are only pieces of memory.

    I, personally, would like you to post more abt how this affected you.

    Piecing it together as you gather facts and fill in the holes from your youth.

    Thank you for this.

    • Lynn
      February 17, 2011

      Thanks for that. I’m actually very open about my life, both in person and on the blog, but those opinionated ones and funny ones just fall out. These emotional ones are much more difficult. That’s why I’m always impressed that you can do it. I’m actually supposed to be writing about having an eating disorder and I just can’t seem to write it. They always make my brain hurt.

  12. Redshoes51
    February 17, 2011

    I’ve written somethings along the line of this. It seems that, at times, these stories just want to come out… or need to… I’ve started committing a great deal of what I know into a journal.. one of these days, one of my kids will say, ‘Let’s see what Dad wrote about ‘such~n~such’…

    Thank you for sharing this story… *huggles*

    ~shoes~

    • Lynn
      February 17, 2011

      Sometimes I like to write serious stuff although usually, even my serious stuff is my opinions. Autobiographical, not so much. It’s just that this really defined my youth.

  13. Gloria
    February 17, 2011

    Lynn, what a terrific, insightful post.
    Sometimes the worst brings out the best that’s my lesson in life.

    I can assure you that my heart skipped a beat when I saw your brother’s comment above.
    What he writes for you is very sweet and you are very lucky that you have two brothers who love you and care for you.

    • Lynn
      February 17, 2011

      Thanks…yeah, I’m actually a very intro respective person. That and the fact that I’ve been in therapy for 25 years…my brothers drive me nuts but I do love them.

      • Gloria
        February 17, 2011

        Haha, yes siblings have that quality. My sister drives me nuts too sometimes but I can’t imagine my life without her.

        • Lynn
          February 17, 2011

          Hmmm…I can. Oh, just kidding Brad and Bruce!

  14. Kris from Pretty All True
    February 17, 2011

    Hey, Lynn. I don’t visit here that often, but I am glad you pointed the way to this post.

    Although honestly . . . you don’t come across as a hard-ass to me.

    Maybe we are too much alike for me to see it.

    • Lynn
      February 17, 2011

      I’m only a hard ass when I’m defending something to be honest. Thanks for visiting…just thought you might find it interesting. See ya dandelion girl!

  15. Michael Procton
    February 17, 2011

    Without trying to be overly deep about something on which I may or may not be an expert (what kind of Procton am I, right?), I appreciate this. Absolutely on the same page with you regarding the ability of difficult situations to make you strong.

    • Lynn
      February 17, 2011

      Why Michael! I had no idea that you read this blog…thanks for the comment. Yes, adversity forms us…for better or worse. I hope you’re doing well.

      • Michael Procton
        February 18, 2011

        Mommy suggested it would be worth my time, and the word of a Mommy is a word worth listening to. And yes, I’m rocking Catawba’s face off this semester. Shocking what putting some effort in will get you.

  16. vodkamom
    February 18, 2011

    That was an incredible story.

    • Lynn
      February 18, 2011

      Hey there! Thanks…every once in a while I say something about me…

  17. Susie
    February 20, 2011

    So just read this and the tears are streaming. My how we are all shaped by different events on our lives. It was good to hear the story again wished we were able to talk more about it when we were kids. Like a lot of things back then it was “hush” “hush” or at least it seemed that way to me.

    • Lynn
      February 20, 2011

      Yeah. It’s weird. Nobody ever talked about it back then. It was just this event that had happened. Thanks for leaving that comment cuz I felt that way too! Lots of love

  18. lauren
    February 20, 2011

    hey. just read this. i remember the stuffed dog too! but i also remember mom’s face when she got the phone call and all of us taking off running down the street screaming. i remember getting there as the ambulance was leaving and being left looking at bloody blankets that our neighbours brought, thinking that was my brad, all over those blankets. then i remember you and bruce the love of my five year old life coming and staying for days, heaven. weird juxtaposition of emotions. mostly my heart goes out to brad who has fought the battle of that day all of his life.

    • Lynn
      February 20, 2011

      wow…i didn’t know all that. You guys ran down to the end of the street? omg…that’s intense. i had no idea…hahaha, Bruce the love of your life!! BUt Laurie, you and Bruce can’t get married! You’re cousins. HAHAHA

  19. Robin Barnes
    February 20, 2011

    I remember this day all too well. As the accident happened at the top of my street, I remember the neighbors gathering outside wondering who had been hit. My mother found out fairly quickly and ran to the top of the street but would not let us follow. I remember asking everyday if Brad was going to be okay. At 6 years old, to me, okay meant normal. Nothing was ever normal again for my cousin or their family. I remember feeling special & scared and being told I couldn’t get upset when I saw Brad in the hospital. I remember when he finally came home, when he started to swim again. I remember covering one eye to feel what it was like to see out of only one eye. I was forever impressed that life can change in a second. To this day I cringe when I see someone riding a bike on the side of the road and give them a wide berth as I pass. My cousins are strong. They now stand together through their trials and tribulations in life both past & future. I’m proud to be a member of this family and I love you all dearly.

    • Lynn
      February 20, 2011

      wow…that was incredible. You know, i never really thought about all that. I remember that only you and i got to go to the hospital but i had NO IDEA that you guys ran to the end of the street to see. Isn’t that weird? The one with the least amount of memories is Bruce. Lots of love

  20. Catch the Kidd
    March 5, 2011

    Whoa… This just brought back a slew of emotion for me. My Mum was hit by a drunk when I was in my teens. Just reading this made me cry. I know exactly what you mean about one life ending and another starting. The other thing is that you lose that innocent optimism of youth. You have a deep awareness that these sort of things don’t always happen to other people. And it happens without warning. Makes one keen to cut through crap with people and keep life real. Great post. But it really fooked up my eyes for the day….

    • Lynn
      March 5, 2011

      Sorry about that…every once in a while I like to write something serious, especially if it’s about something that defines me. You never said what happened to your mom. Hope she was ok…sorry about your fooking eyes.

  21. Katja Brown
    April 25, 2011

    Lynn:

    This post made me think of a friend of mine who lost her mother way too early to cancer. She acts just like you describe yourself: She will never let the world see her vulnerable inside, she’s a tough cookie on the outside.

    Couple of questions/suggestions. Why don’t you post a pic of your brother now? I would be curious to find out how he coped with his injuries and numerous operations. This could be a story of overcoming obstacles and possibly will give some families that are going through similar experiences some hope …

    • Lynn
      April 25, 2011

      well, i had my brother read the article but didn’t really want to post a recent picture

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