The first thing I did last week at the Tennessee Fitness Spa was fall.
I have a history of falling. I slipped on a pebble in San Francisco (cut my elbow), fell on the ice on my front porch in Palos Heights, IL, (broke my arm), and caught my sandal on a sidewalk grate in Chicago (broke my hip).
Just two months ago, I even almost fell at Art Prize in downtown Grand Rapids, MI. Following the crowd, I managed to stumble off a curb, surprising the sturdy woman who broke my fall. I thanked her, profusely. For the rest of the afternoon, my younger companion quietly announced each curb and step.
As I’ve grown older, my goal each day is to stay upright. It’s not fun to break bones. It ties you up for a long while. So when I announced this spa trip to my daughter, who has witnessed several of my falls, she gave me a last-minute warning. While I was riding in the shuttle from the Nashville airport to the spa, she texted me to tell my traveling friend, Marianna, to “sleep with one eye open.”
Warnings are worthless, however. If you’re going to fall, you just plain fall.
Checking into the spa, I stayed upright. But not for long. On the uphill climb to our cabin, I stepped off a sidewalk, intending to take a worn path to another sidewalk. Instead, the instant my foot left the pavement, it slid on leaves and—whoosh—I thudded to the hard ground, landing smack dab on my formerly broken, now pinned, hip.
My first thought, I cannot tell my daughter. My second, my orthopedic surgeon’s warning: If you break this fractured hip again, you will need a hip replacement.
Then I realized I had not heard anything snap or crackle or pop. Good signs. And, upon jiggling the affected leg, I had no pain. Another good sign.
Marianna was ahead of me on the path and had not noticed my fall. She was about to disappear from my view. I hollered out, “Marianna!” And then started to laugh. The ludicrousness of my tipsiness, now that nothing seemed broken, brought on hysteria.
Marianna turned, “What happened?” Since she had navigated the path without a problem, I thought I detected a hint of incredulity in her voice.
But the real incredulity came a few days later when I decided I needed a photo of my fall. As we passed a kind-looking older gentleman raking leaves, Marianna said, “Don’t mind us if you see her falling. We’re recreating a fall.”
A blank look appeared on his face. Walking up the hill, we laughed, agreeing our husbands would have the same look. When we came back down the hill, encountering him again, he said, “Now I get it. I didn’t know what you were talking about the first time. But I see you actually recreated a fall.”
Yes, sir, we did! And a bit of irony: my friend Marianna and I planned this spa trip as a way of doing something we’d never done to celebrate our turning seventy this year. Well, I have fallen before, but after this grounding start, the spa turned out to be just what we wanted: a new adventure in a wooded spot with rippling water and friendly fellow adventurers tucked deep into the hills of Tennessee. More about that adventure later.
My daughter’s reaction? “UNREAL!!”