Most people would agree that there are things that will trigger memories—maybe it’s a perfume or a song—that transport us to a moment of time in an instant. But what about a color? Can a color do the same thing? Well, for me it can. There is one color that never fails to remind me of a few miracles that happened on a certain Saturday when I was around 10 years old. And the color? Cornflower blue…
I have a younger sister, Karen. She’s the only sibling I have. I am a little over five years older than her. If you have ever read any articles on birth order and spacing, they often tell you that having children separated by five years or more is optimal for rearing well-adjusted children. For those of you who know us, you know we destroyed that theory!! The five-year gap presented challenges in that, when we were young, it was light years away in life experiences. When I was starting school, she was born. When I was on my way to middle school, she was starting elementary. Likewise, when I was in college, she was in middle school (and a great asset to me with Algebra 101!) For the most part when we were kids, we got along very well, probably because we didn’t have similar interests and stayed out of each other’s way. Luckily, for my parents’ sake, that meant we were seldom partners in crime so they never worried what kind of mischief we were into when we were together. Because of this, they never questioned the time we spent together that Saturday morning.
It was an ordinary Saturday. Although I don’t remember the exact date, I do remember it was warm enough for us to ride in the back of my dad’s “Sanford and Son-esque” pickup truck. The neighbor boys, who were in their mid-teens, helped dad load an air compressor in the truck to take to my uncle. The thing was so heavy that they barely had it in the truck bed. Dad had a hard time closing the gate. Karen and I jumped into the back for the short ride to my uncle’s house. My uncle lived back a road. To get to the house, you had to drive through a creek bed. That didn’t present a problem unless it had been raining. And it had been raining… Had dad not had the air compressor in the back, we would have just parked the truck and walked around the hill to get to the house but since the whole purpose in going was to deliver the compressor, we were going to drive across the creek.
My dad rarely saw obstacles as deterrents. That whole square peg/round hole thing was a challenge to be overcome. So, when the truck wheels stuck in the creek bed, the test began. Karen was sitting in the front corner behind dad and I was in the other front corner behind the passenger side of the truck. As I recall, it was kind of exciting. Dad would put the truck in reverse, give it gas, then slam it into drive. The mud and rock would fly but the truck wouldn’t budge. At this point and in defense of my dad I must say, he would never, ever knowingly place us in any type of dangerous situation. He may have been fearless where he was concerned but never with us. With that disclaimer being made, I continue… We were at a very slight downhill angle and I guess all the rocking with the truck caused the air compressor to slide. With his “never give up” attitude, he didn’t notice it moving and neither did I until it completely slid directly over Karen—pinning her in the truck bed.
I think between the impact behind him and me screaming, Dad knew something had happened. He jumped out of the truck and looked down to see Karen bleeding. I don’t know if you’ve ever read about adrenaline and how a rush of it can give you the strength to do something that otherwise would be impossible. Well, it’s true. I witnessed such a thing that day. I saw my dad reach over and move an air compressor off my sister that not even 15 minutes earlier had taken three people to lift. Thankfully, my uncle, who had heard the commotion of the struck truck, was on his way with his truck to pull us out. Dad had Karen in his arms and they immediately took off in his vehicle to our little local hospital. I went back to the house so my aunt could take me home and take my mom to the hospital.
My uncle was flying over country roads, while my dad was pressing his shirt against the side of Karen’s head, trying to stop the bleeding. The nozzle of the air compressor hit her head upon impact. I don’t know if it was the hit to the head, or the shock of what happened, but she was laying lifeless in his arms. At some point during the short drive, my dad reached down and grabbed Karen’s hand. At that point he said to my uncle, “Jimmy, you can slow down. It’s too late. Her fingernails are blue” but my uncle kept up the pace. Grandma Yelton was a housekeeper at the hospital and it just so happened that she was working that day. She said Dad and Uncle Jim were a mess when they arrived. There was blood everywhere and dad was crying and telling the doctor Karen was gone, that her nails were blue. The doctor took her back to the small ER while dad waited for mom to arrive so he could break the news.
But see, there’s part of this story that Dad didn’t know at the time. Karen’s nails were just not blue, they were Cornflower Blue. I had just painted them that morning with the brand-new polish I had purchased the weekend before!!! In just a few minutes, the doctor came out and said Karen would be fine but she needed stitches and that her fingernails were blue because of nail polish and not from losing blood. Karen had a complete recovery with no lasting ill-effects but boy, she milked those stitches for all they were worth! Of course, I don’t blame her. What five-year-old wouldn’t?
So, now that you know the story behind the color, you may be wondering what were the miracles that day? The air compressor nozzle missed my sister’s temple by less than a quarter inch. The doctor told my parents that had it hit her temple, it would have killed her instantly. My dad moved that air compressor off her by himself. Adrenaline rush or miracle? I saw it and think it was miraculous. And finally, the bottle of Cornflower Blue nail polish disappeared as if by magic, never to be seen again.