We went through our checklist as we loaded the van. Treats, drinks, DVDs, pillows, sunglasses, camera, an empty pan and some dramamine, in case the girls become car sick. “I think that’s everything we need for the girls,” Paula said. “Yes, that’s everything,” I answered. “And don’t worry about me. Maybe the metal rods and screws in my back won’t snap.”
The girls joined us for our trip to Bandy’s. Singing, joke telling, and laughing, that’s what we did. Forty minutes later we came to “Pumpkin Patch Lane,” turned right and saw a field of pumpkins, tractors and wagons for hay rides, games, refreshments, and a fall-colored wooded area. I told the girls not to run as I parked the van. (Return the girls in as good a shape as we found them. That’s what grandparents do.)
Oh how I loved the “corn cannon,” powered by air pressure that shot an ear of corn some thirty feet towards a target hanging from a distant tree. Although it cost $1.50 for two shots, I still considered it well worth the expenditure.
Hey, Pop, got your ears on?
There were other games as well. The girls enjoyed the slide and playing in the bin full of corn.
And then it happened; the unexplainable, the unimaginable. It was fast but needs to be described in slow motion if you are to appreciate the horror. Paula jerked the wagon in order to start its forward movement. Katherine yelled, “Grandma, stop, stop.” Willy had lost his grip on the stem and began sliding down the side of the pumpkin. His tiny feet were unable to latch onto the slick pumpkin. I can’t imagine the surprise and the fear that accompanied Wiily’s descent. He landed on the bottom of the wagon but the momentum carried his body to the diamond-shaped openings. Willy grabbed hold of the metal and completed two summersaults before falling to the ground. A quiet thump and then a squash as the wagon wheel rolled over poor Willy. The guts leaked out of his body. He was dead. Silence. Grandma told the girls how sorry she was to have killed Willy. The four of us walked to the van, heads held low, and placed the pumpkins in the back. I returned the wagon, and as I crawled inside the van, Elise said she would not talk to Grandma for the rest of the day. I explained that it was an accident. Sometimes bad things happen. Lets think about the fun we had today. As we drove away, and the horror had diminished, everyone began talking about all of the things that we had done. Elise talked to Grandma. We sang, told jokes, and promised to go to Bandy’s Pumpkin Patch again next year. We ended the day by going to our house for some of Pop’s famous Chili and corn bread, but that’s another story for another day.