A Lesson of Determination from My Father

My father, the artist Herman Maril, dislocated his ankle– not only breaking bones, but tearing muscles, tendons, and ligaments when I was a child. It was a traumatic event, requiring the arrival of the Lower Cape Rescue Squad and ambulance, which took him Up Cape to Hyannis and Cape Cod Hospital in the dark of night It was during the early part of summer, just after a lobster feast.
A professor of art at the University of Maryland, College Park, my father’s summers were his own and our family spent our summers on the tip of Cape Cod in Provincetown where my dad could devote a large portion of his time to sketching, painting, observing, and interacting with his colleagues. (Provincetown has long been designated as an “artist’s colony” due to its attractiveness to many artists and writers throughout the late 19th, 20th, and now 2lst century.)
Raised an orthodox jew, my dad first discovered lobster on his first date with my mother. She ordered lobster, he ordered steak, and he watched her expertly crack and devour her lobster. Perhaps it was then that he fell in love.
At any rate, lobster was a favorite of my parents and myself. My brother David, however, has never liked lobster comparing lobsters to giant cockroaches. My mother always served him fish on the one or two occasions we’d have a lobster feast during the summer. Lobster has always been an expensive delicacy, so we were always on the lookout for a special sale that might make it more affordable.
I seem to recall that we had at least one guest that night, and that there were a lot of shells. So what did my dad do? He put his foot inside and on top of the metal trashcan to stomp on the trash and make it more compact and then both feet– jumping up and down. The trash can toppled in one direction taking a foot with it while his body fell in the opposite direction. There was a loud cry of pain when the event happened, the drama of the ambulance arrival, and a week’s stay at the hospital. This was back in the 1960s and I don’t think there was the level of surgical intervention with screws and pins that take place now in 2011. He had to keep his foot elevated and then no weight could be placed on his foot and recovery was slow. There was no physical therapy. Eventually my father moved from crutches to a cane.
What sticks in my mind to this day was being told that soft tissues when they are torn can take longer to heal than broken bones. His projected recovery time was six months.
There was a major exhibit, a retrospective of my father’s work at the Baltimore Museum of Art, entitled “The World of Herman Maril” which coincided with the release of a hardbound book which catalogued the show. I remember the large reception that took place in the same year that my father had dislocated his ankle and remember watching him walk across the floor to the podium, perhaps to say a few words. He looked small to me in the wide open space of the Museum hall with its cold stone floors walking slowly and carefully attempting to minimize his limp. I could sense the pain he was feeling, determined to push the strength and endurance of his muscles so that eventually that limp would completely disappear. But I think at the time, he was still wearing an ace bandage for support and his ankle was weak.
Yesterday I was taken grocery shopping and I managed to push my own cart and felt proud of myself, even if I couldn’t carry my own groceries. Today my arms feel tired and sore and I was only pushing a cart! This reminded me of all the soft tissue injuries, the strain to my shoulders, arms, and hands that can take several months to heal. It also reminded me of my father and how eventually he completely eliminated his limp. By the following summer, once again he was taking his long walks at a brisk pace.
I can get it all back, it just takes determination and time.

Published by Nadja Maril

Nadja Maril is a communications professional who has over 10 years experience as a magazine editor. A writer and journalist, Maril is the author of several books including: "American Lighting 1840-1940", "Antique Lamp Buyer's Guide", "Me, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat", and "Runaway, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat". Her short stories and essays have been published in several small online journals including Lunch Ticket, Change Seven, Scarlet Leaf Review and Defunkt Magazine. She has an MFA in creative writing from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. Former Editor-in-Chief of What's Up ? Publishing, former Editor of Chesapeake Taste Magazine a regional lifestyle magazine based in Annapolis, and former Lighting Editor of Victorian Homes Magazine, Maril has written hundreds of newspaper and magazines articles on a variety of subjects..

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