Sunday, July 5, 2009

Independence Day

As noted in an earlier blog, #2 son and I are on the road for a family reunion. Our location is in a very small town in central Nebraska. This small town has about eleven hundred people. All of the local residents who I have met over the years have been friendly, helpful folks. It's the kind of place that you see on T.V, the kind of place that exemplifies small town America.
My relatives love this small town and are fiercely loyal to it. The vast majority of the adult cousins still live here. One left and returned, one left and stayed gone and the other lives on a ranch in the western part of the state. Their kids mostly stayed near as well.

I have spent seven or eight Independence Days in this small town. It is a geographically desirable location for my extended family to have a reunion. The relatives from the west and those from the east meet in the middle.

The first time I came here was in 1985. I was a newlywed with a brand new Toyota pick-up, the first new car I ever owned. We hit a deer on the way out, had to leave the truck in Denver for a month to get fixed. A rental car, an extra night on the road and a couple of airline tickets salvaged this trip.
My two sons were dedicated to God in this small town. My uncle, a minister who lives in Wisconsin comes out for these family reunions. He was happy to perform the service in the local Methodist church.

I have been to the reunion solo, with my wife (pre-kids), with my wife and one baby, with my wife and two babies and with #2 teenage son. All have been good trips, despite minor setbacks and issues.

This small town is primarily an agriculture town. The surrounding hills support cattle ranches; the flats usually grow corn or soybeans. Recreation also plays a part in this town’s economy. A huge reservoir lies a few miles to the west. Folks come from all over to fish and recreate in it. This town also hosts a huge rodeo, usually held at the end of July or in August.

Two (maybe more) cousins are on the local volunteer fire department. They train, maintain equipment, and respond emergencies that arise. Just like I do, except that they do it for free.
They do it because frankly, no one else is there to do it for them.

The Burwell Volunteer Fire Dept. responded when my second cousin’s husband suffered a heart attack and passed away. He was in town for the funeral of my great uncle who had passed away a week earlier. They also responded to a cousin’s auto repair shop when it burned and to another cousin’s house when it burned.

As today was Independence Day, the plan was to get up early, drive to see a cousin who works at a fire department ninety minutes away then return to Burwell at noon for the reunion. An afternoon of feasting, drinking (in moderation, of course) and visiting was to be followed up by a visit to the Burwell V.F.D, who was hosting their annual BBQ.

The department BBQ is one of several ways that the department raises money for new equipment, and operating expenses. I think it helps fund the local fireworks show as well. It is a group effort and they do a great job. The food is amazing and they give you lots of it. It is held at the firehouse, both on the apparatus floor and on the front ramp. The apparatus is on display and there are activities for the kids.

As I was so stuffed from all of the food at the reunion, my plan was to give a donation, then obtain a just a sample of the BBQ and “call it good”. Fireworks at the park, followed by more at the ranch were to wrap up the evening.

My plans were altered when #2 son (age 16) crashed a cousin’s four wheeler late in the afternoon. He and another kid were riding on it when my son lost control and rolled it. It happened in a pasture; the first I heard of it was when another kids ran up to us in the barn, informing us that #2 son and his younger cousin had crashed bad on the crossover road.

One of the B.V.F.D. cousins and I piled into my truck and drove the short way up into the pasture. I was relieved to see the two kids up off of the ground. Cousin Joel was standing, with an abrasion next to his eye, #2 son seated on the back of another four wheeler.

Both kids were alert, oriented and wide-eyed scared. Cousin Joel denied injury, #2 son complaining of severe ankle pain. #2 son gets a complete survey: Pt. denies LOC, neck/back pain. No visible trauma or deformity to spine. Abrasions and dirt visible to left side of face. No deformity observed to head, no blood or fluid in nose or ears. Pupils equal. No visible trauma to chest, no pain upon inhalation. No pain to pelvis, palpation reveals pelvis intact, no deformity or crepitus noted. Swelling observed at left knee and ankle. Paradoxical palpation on femur and shin reveal no additional pain or crepitus. Distal functions normal.

Two scared kids, a broken four wheeler and undetermined leg injuries. I can live with that. We load up #2 son and take him back to the motel. He can’t put weight on the ankle. I get him cleaned up, apply ice and administer 600 mg of Motrin.

We’ll see how this works out in the morning. The closest hospital with anything more than an x-ray machine is a two hour drive away. We have tickets for the Rockies game on Monday; we’ll have to see about that. I’m just glad #2 son and Cousin Joel weren’t hurt worse in this small town.

Update: X-rays taken today reveal a broken tibia 1" above the ankle. Bruised rib, possible torn ligamint in his right knee. It's going to be a long ride home for him. Cousin Joel went to church today, with no obvious ill effect. Heal fast little buddy.


  1. Glad #2Son is not severely injured! Take care, and stay safe!

  2. Thanks Firecap5, he's young - bones heal. He is a little bummed out about spending his summer in a cast though!

  3. at least he's got something to tell when the teacher asks "what did you do this summer vacation?" :)