“Red Rover, Red Rover. Send Christine right over.” The children giggled and held each other’s hands.
So I was told, Christine clinched her fists and ran as fast her tiny legs would carry her.
I was in the garage and never saw the ending to her vie to break the line, but I reacted to the screaming cry I heard from the back yard. According to the stories told to me by a half dozen children at the same time, Christine hit the clasp hands and her feet went out from under her and she landed on the ground. Christine stopped breathing. By the time I got there her lips were bluing.
I picked up my daughter in one swoop, flipped her over face down and gave her four healthy thumps in the middle of her upper back. Suddenly, her breakfast came up and a half dozen curious children ran away. “Thank you Jesus!” I screamed as tears ran down my cheeks. Christine began crying and rolled over in my arms and clutched my neck. I was glad she was hanging on cause I was running with her to my Jeep. I fastened her in her car seat and we raced along the streets to the hospital. I tried to dial my cell phone with a free hand but dropped my phone and the floorboard of the Jeep.
I was honking the horn when we hit the emergency room drive way. An orderly and nurse met us at the door.
They grabbed a fully awake and screaming Christine and started asking me questions as we walked into a curtained area. In a blur I answered as best I could. An ER doctor quickly examined Christine and then walked over to me. “You probably saved her life.”
I was trembling. “First aid training, glad I remembered. We have to stay current at work.”
I laughed, “No, teacher.”
Christine, not ten feet away from was screaming, “Daddy!”
The doctor smiled. “I don’t see in other obstructions, take her home and let her rest.”
That was 25 years ago.
Christine would have many other trips to the emergency room over her growing up years, she always seemed to be the clumsy one of our kids. A bit of a tom-boy. Her antics and exploits always ended the same way, with lots of tears and a plaintive, “Daddy.”
I took pictures at her baptism. I was there for her first communion. I was there to bail her out when she got in trouble. Again with tears in my eyes I dropped her off at the women’s dorm when she went off to college. She stayed there a semester before she went off to live with some boy in California. She stopped communicating before the turn of the century.
We tried to find her a couple of years ago, even hired a detective. The only thing he found was a way to extract a lot of money from us. We did learn that she married and moved to Texas.
We got a letter about a year ago, it was obviously written under the influence of drugs or alcohol. We shared the letter with an old friend and counselor. What we learned was what we already knew. Christine wanted not to be found or have anything to do with her “old” family.
Then this summer we got a call from one of Christine’s friends. Christine was in the hospital. Her second husband had attempted to kill her. I began packing a bag to travel to Houston. The friend wouldn’t give us much information, but we learned that Christine lived in the Houston, Texas area. Then the trail went cold. There were no more calls.
Later during the summer Christine called, and was injured again, and wanted to come home. We told her to come home no questions asked. We hung up the phone and never heard another word from her until this Sunday night.
She was hurt again, and wanted to know if she was still welcome. I offered to buy her a plane ticket, and Monday morning contacted my travel agent to have a ticket waiting for her … but she never called back. And now, we sit waiting and praying.
“Red Rover, Red Rover. Send Christine on over.”
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