My Silly Mom has issues with stairs. She usually tries to avoid them, but sometimes there is just no way around and she must go either up or down.
Her troubles with stairs may have started long ago, but my first memory in this regard was a stumble she had back in 1980. We were in the Bahamas on a tour of an old fort which had a cannon nicknamed, “Hot Shot.” Our tour guide was explaining the history of the cannon and how it got its name as we all climbed the precarious stairs leading to the top where the cannon was mounted. I guess Mom found the lecture so captivating that she stumbled over her feet (either that or she was just plain clumsy).
Mom’s automatic reflex whenever she is falling is to throw whatever she happens to be holding, making sure that her hands are free to catch herself on the way down. Well, in this case, that happened to be her purse, which happened to be a large bag with no zippered closure. Everything from her purse spilled on the stairs and the entire tour group stopped in mid-step, staring agog at the spectacle.
Mom was embarrassed to be the subject of everyone’s curiosity, and wanted them to move on and forget her fall, so she thought she would make light of the situation. “Now, that’s what I call a ‘Hot Shot’,” she joked. To Mom’s dismay, however, our tour companions seemed to lack all sense of humor when it came to falling down. Rather than turn away, many hands rushed to help her up and gather her belongings. And no one forgot her fall, either. They seemed to think that she was likely to fall at every crack in the road or uneven ground, for someone was beside her, cautioning her to be careful, taking her arm to assist with practically every step.
That experience earned Mom the nickname, ‘Hot Shot,’ which we say whenever she stumbles or trips (which is more often than she would like to admit), and Dad made sure she bought a purse that zips closed (a policy she still strictly adheres to).
But even zipped up bags don’t always prevent trouble when the ‘Hot Shot’ takes to the stairs. Years later, Mom and Dad were in England, at a train station. Dad had sprained his ankle and had to wear a boot on his foot, and walk with a cane. Because of this, Mom got to carry all the luggage. This particular train station had plenty of stairs. To get to the correct boarding location, they first had to climb up a set of stairs, cross a bridge, and then walk down the stairs on the other side of the tracks. Dad hobbled on ahead while Mom struggled with the suitcases. She did just fine until it was time to walk down the steps.
For some reason, when she looked down and saw Dad trying to hobble down the stairs, Mom thought he looked funny. She started to giggle, and then realized that she was losing her balance. Remember what she does when she thinks she is falling? Well, this time, instead of just a purse, Mom quickly let go of all the luggage in her hands as well.
Instantly, she saw that Dad was right in line to get smacked by falling bags, so she yelled, “Look out!”
Dad glanced backwards, saw the luggage falling, and moved faster than Mom thought was possible in his cumbersome boot. Dad wasn’t the only one to heed Mom’s warning call. Some other man was also in the path of destruction, so he ran for safety, too. Seeing the two men running/shuffling and suitcases tumbling after, was more than Mom could take. She just stood at the top of the stairs, laughing so hard she was afraid she might fall after them.
Finally, the luggage thudded to a stop at the bottom, both men unharmed, and Mom started to catch her breath. Then Dad looked up at Mom with a puzzled expression and asked, “Why did you throw the bags at me?” The idea that she had done it on purpose struck Mom even funnier, and it was quite a while before she was able to manage to get herself down the steps between fits of laughter. And from that point on, Dad has made sure that he is never below the ‘Hot Shot’ on stairs.