Remembering a close call … a half-century later

The other night a childhood memory came flooding into my head and I have no idea why.

I thought about the day when I was maybe 5 years old, in my driveway riding around on my miniature tractor. I probably got bored or thirsty and went inside.

The details of what happened next are fuzzy, except for the image of an “elderly” neighbor — Miss McKenna, who was probably only in her 50s — standing in my driveway, crying hysterically.

Four-year-old me, in my yard. That's Miss McKenna's driveway behind me.

Four-year-old me, in my next door neighbor’s yard. That’s Miss McKenna’s garage, upper left corner.

From what I remember of the story, Miss McKenna’s parked car had somehow slipped out of gear and rolled down the slight grade from her house up the street. It went across our driveway and into our yard before coming to rest against a tree. It may have even nicked my tractor, but I’m not sure.

I wish I could recall more specifics, but I do remember looking outside at my mom trying to comfort Miss McKenna. The poor woman was relieved, but distraught at the thought that her car could have hit me had I still been in the driveway.

I still don’t know why that memory surfaced the other night.

But when I thought about it further, something else occurred to me — the fact that I have a memory of something that happened more than 50 years ago. I certainly don’t feel old, but my hunch is that a 5-year old today would have the same impression of me as I did of Miss McKenna.

I’m fine with that. It’s healthy to laugh at ourselves as needed. I’ll leave you with this:

A couple of years ago when I was walking in a park, a young mom was pushing a stroller toward me. As she got closer, a tiny voice from inside the stroller let out an incredibly enthusiastic, “Grampa!”

I laughed then, and I still smile every time I think about it. I’m just happy to be here.


About Jim McKeever

Writer, father, runner, advocate based in Central New York.
This entry was posted in family, Irish Investigations and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Remembering a close call … a half-century later

  1. markbialczak says:

    I am so glad you were thirsty a half-century ago, buddy. Mrs. McKenna was an empathetic neighbor, was she not, shedding tears for what might have been? I think I like that.

    Our eldest are of the age, sir … your last anecdote … ’nuff said.

    Have a great day, and so shall I, because we are both here, birth class of 1957.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m happy you’re here too! I think there’s more to life than we know. I can think of a few near-misses myself, how fortunate I was to not be affected, and sometimes just the memory of them makes me break out in a sweat when I consider the what-ifs of them.
    Diana xo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. gjroma says:

    Great story Jim, that last part about the Grandpa thing made me laugh! Hope all is well in your world…

    Always for Africa, Gabrielle Romano

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You were ADORABLE! And poor Ms. McKenna, I can only imagine how that scared her. And she was probably like THIRTY. 🙂 I love the “Grampa!” . And isn’t it amazing how a memory you haven’t thought of just pops in for a visit. I do wonder where those come from.


  5. What a nice little memory. Glad to hear no one was hurt!

    When I was in my last long-term relationship a couple years ago, there were two encounters of my being assumed to be a father. One time my ex and I were hiking up Bald Mountain, when a little boy in the company of his mother and grandmother pointed at me and said, “Daddy!” It was quite funny, but not to my ex. The second time was riding the lift at Hunter Mountain, a boy on an opposite gondola pointed at us and asked, really loud, “Look! Are they a mommy and daddy, too?” It was cute, and it got me thinking about life a little bit. Still does.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jim McKeever says:

    Chris, that’s a keeper! (I hope the ‘Daddy!’ incidents didn’t lead to the demise of the relationship). Encounters like that do make you think about things from a different perspective now and then — seeing the world through such innocent, young eyes seems like the way to go some days.


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