This is the story of how my mom is a total badass. It’s pretty much what I’d expect from her at this point; after all, I have a very vivid memory of a trip we took to the north Georgia mountains when I was a teenager. We stumbled on to one of those Pioneer Days events in a state park, and one of the exhibits was an apple cider press that you could try out yourself with local apples. It was supposed to be operated by two people, but there she was, cranking both parts by herself in her tank top and shorts (I have pictures somewhere.) She drank something like a quart of self-pressed apple cider and then promptly got indigestion, because that’s what happens when you drink a quart of apple cider. My point is that she’s always been good at living 150% of life.
This spring, she and my stepdad went to Norway. They had lots of adventures, including kayaking in a fjord when the tour guide casually mentioned that a famous Nazi battleship had sunk there, destroyed by the British, and remained there in ruins. Two thirds of the way through the trip they were hiking in Kirkenes, way up inside the Arctic Circle within view of the Russian border, when she saw a “cool ice formation” off the trail that she wanted to look at more closely. (“That’s how they get you!” a friend of mine would later joke after hearing the whole story.) It looked like a giant anvil. Given Norway’s mythological history with its trolls and frost giants, I can see the appeal of a great anvil made of ice. She went off the trail and promptly slipped on rock algae, hitting both her head and her elbow.
To make sure the head injury didn’t get scary they packed snow into a plastic bag to use as a compress, but there wasn’t really a way to get medical care before she had to be back on the tour boat. It was a small enough ship that they didn’t have a doctor, getting around the rules by saying they could just send people to a doctor in port since they were on a coast-hugging itinerary. However, that doesn’t actually work in practice unless you basically jettison your entire vacation. She tried to see a land doctor a few more times, but even when the ship called in advance it never worked out.
So she just took ibuprofen and waited. She and Stepdad continued to hike, continued to tour Norway, and mostly continued to enjoy themselves despite her pain. Besides, the ship’s security guard waved it off, saying that if it was broken, she’d be in a lot more pain.
When she got home and went to the doctor, it turned out her elbow was fractured to the point where bits were shattered. Now she’s recovering from surgery and has a metal plate in her arm (and five screws.) Her return was the first I heard of the story, since they were mostly incommunicado until they got back to Florida. “Wait,” I said. “You kayaked over Nazi skeletons, then fractured your arm hiking in the Arctic Circle and got by on ibuprofen for a few weeks while continuing to enjoy the scenery?”
Anyway, that’s my mom.