Billy

wire loop fence

Perhaps it is not so much a surprise that children usually survive precarious events but that their parents do not go gray much earlier in life than they actually do.

Billy was the young son of the lady who lived behind my parents’ home in the years between my finishing high school and moving away. He was a scrawny rough and tumble blond boy always up to something. One evening when I heard someone running through our yard and I called out asking who was there he said, “It’s me, Billy.” And I went back to what I was doing knowing that there was nothing to worry about.

One day when his mother was about to pull into their garage and the door was lifting, her heart nearly stopped when she saw his legs dangling in front of her, only to breathe again when she could see he was suspended by his hands hanging onto the cross beam.

It did not surprise me to glance out of the kitchen window to see Billy walking with ease across their roof.

At my mother’s wake, Billy’s mom told me that one time when she pulled into the driveway she ran over her son’s arm and my father, who happened to be in his back yard, jumped over the four foot fence, scooped the boy up from the ground, carried him into their house, laid him on the couch and said to the stunned mother, Shall we call the ambulance now?

I was astonished that my father, then about sixty and carrying some extra pounds, was able to throw himself over that fence.

I wonder where Billy is now and if he’s a father with his hair growing gray.

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