Monday Morning, March 30, 2009
Lorey Dan is one of the more popular teachers over there at Travis Ranch School in Yorba Linda. No surprise that she teaches language arts to junior high kids – she’s got a sharp, quick wit, and an irrepressible sense of humor.
So this weekend, when she tipped over while piloting a snowmobile with her husband Larry on the passenger seat, and stretched her right leg to the side on the snow covered slope to keep it all upright and snapped both the fibula and tibia just above her ankle, she was, through the pain, making jokes. Her husband stood by her side. There was nothing he could do, really, but wait. Our radio-equipped guide roared to the scene.
Pushing it to the limit is nothing new for Lorey. She’s always been fearless; aggressive on a pair of skis on the slopes or on a ski behind a high-power boat. Larry always loves watching her cut loose – she’s as competitive as he is.
We all rushed to the crest in our rented two-cycle vehicles. We stopped on the hilltop and Larry explained. It didn’t look good.
Just a few minutes earlier, we had been set free by our guide to open up those swift snowmobiles in a broad high altitude meadow up there on Mammoth Lakes mountain. We would test our mettle against machine and snow; the sky a deep cloudless blue and the horizon filled in with rocky white granite peaks. Tall deep green pine trees formed a border a mile wide in each direction. The open field was an expanse of gleaming, glittering white. The action out there was reminiscent of jet-skis criss-crossing an open harbor jumping wakes and waves. Up until this moment, there were ten or twelve of us racing back and forth on snowmobiles to the sound of whining internal combustion engines pushed on up to their limits. But now the mountain air went silent around one of our gang of winter adventurers down and injured and enduring the onset of considerable, intense pain.
Our guide didn’t win over any affection from our crew. He seemed intent on little more than absolving himself of any personal or corporate responsibility in the matter, even though we had signed away any possible recourse against him or his company back at the rental shed. He went on reciting all the rules and repeating lines from his orientation session as though none of us had been listening back before we started our engines. I nearly spoke up. The rest of us, including the ski patrol guys who had been summoned by radio, were more concerned about Lorey than liability. She lay motionless in the snow. She told us not to worry about her – we should go have fun. When they attempted to splint her leg, we heard her involuntary cry.
They hooked up a sled behind the ski patrol’s snowmobile, secured her in, and we watched them pull away making the return trip from the wide meadow back to a waiting ambulance. Larry followed behind now solo on his machine. We all agreed, the bumpy trail would be painful.
So that night, Lorey endured a three and a half hour surgery where one of the finest orthopedic teams in the nation went to work on the nasty break. They installed rods and plates, repairing tiny pieces of fragmented bone. Larry waited patiently in the lobby. The other six of us dined at the Lakanuki in the Village.
“Don’t worry about us,” was the last thing Larry and Lorey said to us back at the hospital. Funny thing. They meant it.
* * * * *
It’s Monday morning. We are leaders, you and me. Sometimes we get a weekend away with friends and we venture out into the unknown and then the unexpected alters our plans.
I don’t know if Lorey grasps fully how much she is loved by so many. She’s about to find out. She’s a teacher, a Mom, a spouse, a friend. As we gathered first in our condo and then around her hospital bed, we asked God to help her just let it go for a while. To rest. To recover.
I was there when the surgeon informed her – she’ll be on crutches for three to four months. “So I won’t be in class on Monday?” she asked.
“No,” the doctor answered gently.
Larry stood by as Lorey let that one sink in. Lorey carries around a portable list of tasks she takes seriously. It’s an impressive collection of heavy responsibilities. It all flooded over her as she imagined herself immobile for the next couple of weeks.
And now, it’ll take an army of friends to step in and do what Lorey does any ordinary day.
Because Larry and Lorey are the kind of people who have spent a lifetime giving themselves away, that army is ready to go.
Copyright Kenneth E Kemp, 2009