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Little Man Down … death reaches out for a child

Little Man Down – a true story

gentle heart meets death
When was the last time you stared tragedy in the face? Yet, on a glorious winter’s day, must history repeat itself for my little-man?

When my kids become wild and unruly I use a nice, safe, playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out. – Erma Bombeck


We played on a day  when serious injury, perhaps even death reached out for my grandson. Without warning, my past was on a collision course with my present.


“I don’t know how his head will stand it!” It seems I’d fallen from a wall on to stone steps. I recall Mum sobbing and squeezing me tight to her bosom, rocking my little frame as I came around.

Some people land on their feet …

A year later, driving with Dad in his old Morris 8, standing on the front seat (what’s a seat belt?). We tootled along when I saw a friend. In an instant, with no sense of danger, I opened the door and stepped out to say hi.

My head slammed into the road at about fifteen miles an hour. Blackness. After that, my next recollection was anxious face as I lay on a sofa. There they were, Mom red-eyed – hanky in hand, Dad pale, sombre faced, a doctor close by holding my wrist, with a police officer in support. Strange to say, it’s a good memory af unconditional love. Isn’t sincere concern wonderful when you’re the focus?

A ghost from the past – live or die?

Two generations on, danger sneaked over the horizon and homed in on a special little boy like a Cruise Missile. On that occasion, little-man played with me, his safety my repsonsibility.

On a chill Sunday morning, we amused ourselves in the playing area of a West Fife coastal village.

Mom and big brother made happy noises as they lunged about an energy-sapping climbing frame about forty yards away. On our side of the park, little-man and I rushed around playing on swings, roundabouts and rocking-animals on bouncy springs.

Great fun

Energy and pure joy burst from us as tag, hide and seek, chases and boo! filled our time. Unsurprisingly, little-man’s cheeks glowed red with exertion and the cold.

After a while we arrived at a playing structure suitable for an agile toddler. Think of it, one end of an exciting pipe lay a pretend ship’s bridge and platform.  As I watched, the need to explore grip little-man.

Transition at play

An intrepid wee adventurer entered the plastic pipe and a crusty navigator exited – heading for the helm of a “pirate ship”. At about four feet high, the platform seemed innocuous. In fact, the bridge of the boat, a floored metal frame with no sides, was a simple standing space. For steering, a wheel at the left of the structure, looked innocent enough and sufficient for helming a man o’ war or a pirate ship.

Meanwhile, Grandpa stood by, attention stolen by a panoramic and sparkling expanse of water. Nearby, trees bent and hissed as they flexed in a brisk, gusting breeze.

Danger strikes

Then it happened. The tiny blond-haired skipper gripped the wheel while his view-distracted protector, about six feet away. He leaned his weight on the helm. You see, neither of us expected it to move, but it did, all the way because it could spin freely. In an instant, he fell out and down over the end of the frame. More shocking still, he fell in complete silence, at first … and let go the wheel. Already on the move, a tiny squeal tore at my ear as I watched him tip straight over the edge.

In an instant, he hurtled downwards. Unaware of approaching injury, he didn’t even put his hands out to protect himself. In the moment, gravity seized him and accelerated his fall.

In terrible slow motion, I watched a fragile little cranium plunge towards a steel bolt on the metal framework. Even now I see him fall, vertical like an olympic diver, arms by his sides.

His chest passed the flooring, a look of quizzical interest on an angelic face, and hurtling at him, him an almost certain connection with hard metal and untold damage.

Grabbin’ grandpa?

Is it possible I  moved at the speed of light? Somehow, my hand grabbed a tiny ankle. In that instant, I caught and held him inches from disaster. He shrieked with laughter as I swung him up into a relieved hug.


Again?! no way José. Sighing with relief, I expelled a gigantic sighing plume of icy breath.

Poor Mom

As I write, I think of my Mom and the twice-battered, bleeding, unconscious child she had to nurse as shock and terrible fear tore at her with cruel talons. If you’re a parent, I bet you’ll relate to this.

“Where’s Mum?” I said, placing a happy toddler feet-first on to the ground. He paused and thought for a moment.

“Mumeeee,” In an instant he ran off up the playground. Shoulders relaxing, I smiled with relieved happiness and loped after him.

© Mac Logan

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