He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

This is a true story about how sometimes we can do things in a moment of crisis that would ordinarily be beyond our capabilities. It took place in the early eighties, during the two year period of my life after the big tree had chased me up the mountain and broke my leg. If you missed that story, you can read it by clicking here —-> The “Old Man” and The Tree.

I’d recently had my second operation and the doctor had put my lower leg and foot in a waterproof cast. That way, he’d explained, I could take a shower, and even go swimming if I wanted to. I deemed that to be awesome.

Ken and his wife, Jackie, were going camping and water skiing, and invited me along. After a day of watching Ken, I was itching to ski, and after some discussion, Ken said if I could stretch one of his older skis over my cast, he didn’t care if I gave it a try. Long story short, I did it, and it was a blast.

On our last day, we were ready to pack up, and head for home, but at the last minute, Ken said, “I gotta have one more run.” No discussion; Jackie took over the driving chores, I was the spotter, and Ken bailed out of the boat.

It was a joy watching him, and he was really showing his stuff as he cut hard and got air over the wake. Then something went wrong; it was one of those situations where everything that could go wrong, did.

He zipped across the wake, getting airborne, and when the back of his ski hit the second wake, the front of his ski came up and hit him smack in the face. He went down fast and hard.

“He’s down,” I yelled, and Jackie immediately circled around to pick him up. When we got to him, he was facing the other way, and I was laughing and teasing him about showing off. My laughter stopped when he turned to face me. All I could see was blood

Ken handed me the ski then reached up to grab the side of the boat. Without a thought, I reached down, grabbed his arm, and lifted him into the boat in one smooth swift motion. Ken grabbed a towel and pressed it to his forehead, mumbled something about needing a doctor, then said, “Holy crap, Chuck!” Jackie was beside herself, in a near state of panic, but got the boat moving and we raced toward camp. I kept checking on Ken, and every time I did, I’d see this wide-eyed Jackie looking at me like I was a ghost or something. Ken—towel pressed to his head—had an equally amazed look on his face.

The next little while is a blur, then I remember sitting with Jackie in the waiting room as they stitched the gash on Kens’ forehead. She just kept looking at me with an amazed look, which I took to be concern for Ken. Then, when she finally calmed down and told me why she’d been staring at me like I was some kind of freak, I understood.

“You don’t even know what you did, do you?” she asked me.

I truly had no clue what she was talking about.

Jackie put her hand on my forearm and said, “You picked Ken up with one arm and lifted him over your head to put him into the boat.”

It was my turn to be wide-eyed and open-mouthed as what she said sank in.

I’d heard stories about people performing super-human feats with the aid of adrenaline rushes; now I’d found out they were real. Ken and I probably both weighed about 175 at the time. There is no way I should have been able to lift him the way I did.

It’s amazing what a person can do when someone they love is hurt or in danger.



  1. Sherry Mashburn said

    You da man!

  2. true? really? cool. xx

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