My 1st “near death” experience – kids being kids

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Rice Threshing machine

I put the double quotes around because looking back I don’t think I would die. Probably “scared to death” is more appropriate. But at the time I was really scared. It was probably in my 1st grade or 2nd grade, I cannot remember exactly. Maybe my parents or siblings or the aunt who helped me can verify.

It was on the way from the village school to home, and for some reason the strongest boy in my class decided to throw stone at me. I could not recall if I provoked him. But the stone hit my forehead, and blood started bleeding from there. That’s the time I thought I was going to die, because I never encountered something like this in my life. Obviously I started crying, and the other school kids that were walking home probably noticed too. And it just happened an aunt who is a good friend of my mom (she is the accountant for the village and sits in the same office as my mom, if I am correct) happened to be nearby, so she put me on her back. And walked to the doctor’s office, which is next to where my mom’s office is. Note at that time, it was the “barefoot doctors赤脚医生)”, because China then doesn’t have formal medical schools for at least 10 years (due to culture revolution). I asked the aunt whether I would die, and she said No. I probably asked this question more than once. Btw, he was throwing from a distance of probably 75 to 100 yards (meters) so it was not too bad in terms of the hit. I don’t know if the teacher gave him a warning or not. I would not think too much about it personally. A few years later, I made a similar mistake myself, I played too rough with a boy in the class, and his mom talked to my parents. A few years later, I recall seeing him in the Zhenhai Middle School too.

I think in year 2016, I walked to the renovated village office, and I saw one of the doctors picture still there. He probably worked all these years from 1980 until 2016. He is one of the doctors who gave us vaccines when I grew up in the village, as well as treating us very much like the urgent care does in the USA nowadays. Before elementary school the barefoot doctors would actually walk to every home and gave out vaccines to the little kids. And I would close the door, hide behind my grandma and tried to get away from the shots. That usually didn’t work. I probably said cursing words at the time too. When I started attending elementary schools, I could no longer act out, because I was the class president and had to lead by example. Nowadays I can see some of that from my younger daughter – she doesn’t like getting the shots at doctor’s office, usually the vaccine shots. And I saw little kiddos crying at the Covid shots place (Christian Hospital to be specific), I recall one of the Washing U doctor was trying to comfort the kids. And I talked about my “shot scare” in twitter a while ago. Such as this one:

And this one

Other scare times during my childhood

Another time, I was almost drowning. Note I didn’t know how to swim when I grew up. I think one reason is our parents didn’t want us to swim (or learn to swim) at a big (water) reservoir (it was man-made). And we heard the stories of two guys (young healthy men) who died years ago when they swam there after work. Now I am guessing they were probably exhausted, and somehow their bodies or legs had some issue then. Because it’s a reservoir it’s static water and there should not be any danger from under current etc. Anyway, back to the topic, I recall when I was probably completing 3rd grade, and in the summer sometimes my parents would send me to my maternal grandma’s house, living with my uncle’s (my mom’s brother) family including my grandma. Once my grandma asked me to bathe in the pond, the pond was not big or anything, but it was quite deep, I could stand up at the edge but that’s probably it. So that day for some reason I slipped off the edge, and I probably screamed (again I couldn’t swim), and someone quickly picked me up. I recall running back naked to my grandma’s house, and the reason I was naked was my grandma didn’t bring any new clothes for me, and she took my old clothes and was washing it in the pond. Again washing clothes in the pond is quite normal as at that time the villages didn’t have faucet water. So the drinking water was usually from a well or from collecting rainwater. And for washing stuff etc. a pond, a brook or a river is common then.

Got Lost: another time, when I was with my maternal grandma at Chai’qiao 柴桥老街 street, I got lost because I didn’t follow her close enough, and probably she walked too fast without looking back (I may have gotten distracted by something). I think that day, a neighbor who probably knew my grandma, sent me back to my uncle’s home. In those days (before 1983), I don’t think there were human smugglers like today, so in theory, I was still pretty safe.

Probably a year later also in the summer, I was probably finishing the 4th or 5th grade. I was joining my elder brothers to 割稻 (cutting down the rice staunch before getting the rice kernel), and I barely cut probably a few yards, before my cut into my finger. So there goes my rice-cutting job for that summer. I still have scars from that episode. Talking about getting the rice kernels 打稻 (threshing rice), it’s actually quite dangerous, I heard people got hurt as the machine pulled in their hands or arms.

I recall the aunt’s son (the aunt who carried me when I was hurt), once got his legs either into another machine 水车 (water wheel) for some reason, and he had to amputated both his legs.

水车 (water wheel)

Mental Health

I don’t recall there was much consideration of that when I grew up. One of my cousin died from suicide when she heard her younger brother (not her) would take over the job from her dad, also she may have some other issues (I heard one of her eye may have some problem), she was probably a bit over 20. At my high school or college, I heard from my mom one of the girls in my village died from suicide, after her parents scolded her for dating a carpenter or something. She was one year senior than me. We went to the same village school (the elementary school).

Other Scary Experience in the USA

Six flags the Boss ride

The furnace duct had a fire at my old condo.

Fall from the ladder (I talked about it and urgent care exp here)

And car accidents: the one in which my car flew into the ditch off highway 270 was scary.

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