From: "Terri" <>
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Subject: Mother Cut Her Big Toe Off with a Lawnmower
Date: Fri, 3 Dec 1999 11:14:41 -0000
Organization: r a n d o m v i o l i n s . o r g
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It wasn't summertime but it was hot, the year Mother cut her big toe off
with a lawnmower. I had scrambled up a nearby tree in the backyard of our
tract home in Palmdale, California, while Mother mowed the lawn, cursing as
she went along, because the lawnmower would get stuck on the decorative
brick surrounding the small patches of yellow and green crabgrass. It wasn't
summer, because my big brother was in school, and therefore I was the only
witness to what happened, there from my post in the hunchback oak tree, the
only provider of shade in the yard. She was wearing shorts and a tank top
and those little canvas fold-up shoes like I wear sometimes now. Striped
fold-up shoes. The sound came suddenly, a metallic lurch - her toe being
yanked from her by the lawnmower blade - when she had stuck her left foot
under the mower in her impatience to release it from the brick. I heard the
sound, watching from the tree. I was four, maybe five. She didn't
immediately scream, but instead threw the lawnmower away from her in one
huge swoop that toppled it onto its side, and then I could see the blood
spinning in the blade, and the toe on the grass where she had stuck her foot
under the mower, and her little fold-up shoe in shreds. Mother didn't scream
exactly, she howled - yaaah yaaah ooohy yaaah. She never looked at me -
maybe she didn't know I was there or had forgotten I was there - as she
began hopping towards the sliding glass door of the back porch, flinging it
open, and then disappeared from my view but still howled so I knew she was
on her way through the small house and out the front door. By the time I
climbed down the tree - which I did in a very slow, methodical way, not in
any hurry to run after her - the echo from the howls had reached the nearest
neighbor's house and she was pounding on their front door. I was calm and
unafraid. Too calm for a little girl who had just witnessed a terrible
thing. I walked slowly towards and through the back door, and while doing
so, eyeing each and every pattern of smudges of dark blood left by my mother
as she hopped through the house. The pattern was a big smudge next to a
little smudge that had the edge of a toeprint, each set of smudges far
enough apart to decide that my mother had hopped on the good foot but
occasionally had come down on the now mangled foot - that must have been
when she howled louder. By the time I made it out the front door and into
the front yard, the neighbors had already positioned my mother into the back
seat of their car and were preparing to whisk her away to the hospital. My
mother continued to howl and thrash about. The car drove away. I stood and
watched it turn the corner, When I couldn't hear it anymore, I turned around
and backtracked past the smudges of her blood, counting them as I went
along, calm and unaffected. Even amused a little. Nothing exciting ever
happened around our house much, so this was entertainment. My memory of this
starts to fade out now, with the counting of the bloody smudges, and I have
a feeling that I could only count up to ten, but that there were more
smudges than that. I thought to myself once, "I wonder if Mother is dead,"
but it stirred no emotion in me to think it. And now the memory fades.

She ended up getting two toes cut off on her left foot - the big toe was
never retrieved but the one next to it, sliced nearly completely off, they
managed to sew back on. Mother reports that she has no feeling in that toe
since the accident. It's a dead toe but at least it's there. And one time
she mentioned how she resented that she was even back there mowing the
lawn - which, in her view, should have been my father's job. She never had
to mow the lawn again. My father didn't, my big brother did.

A nurse wheeled her into the lobby of the hospital - the same hospital where
you were born - once so we could visit with her. (Kids were not allowed in
patient care areas at that time.) She had her left foot propped in a stirrup
and her entire foot was covered with gauze so that she looked like she had
no foot at all, just a big round bowling ball at the end of her leg. I
remember flipping through a Highlights magazine there in the lobby and that
our visit was short. Mother just wanted to reassure us kids that she was
indeed alive and getting well. The memory fades here, with a note that for
reasons seemingly to do with fear of my father, or his parents - my
grandparents who often watched after me during this time - I was glad Mother
was coming home soon. She been there a month. But I still didn't feel sorry
for her.