Illness or injury to a parent can be terrifying for a young child. Vickie Williams recalls one freezing night when her father’s nosebleed could not be stopped and there was blood everywhere. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center. Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. Curated by Carol Kearns
By Vickie Williams
The mercury had dropped below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. It was a deep freeze night. The moon was full. It was the scariest night of my life. Death came threatening, knocking at our door, at least I thought. Uncertainty filled our lives.
My father, returning home from visiting a friend, developed a nosebleed. It was a cumbersome task to drive, but he made it home. That night was a bane and a blessing. Looking back, a miracle occurred at 814 Camp Street, Monroe, Louisiana.
I was about ten years old. Our tears flooded heavily with panic and pandemonium. Questions danced in my head. My mother Lucille, two sisters Peggy and Jo, and I were sitting around the open face heater in the dining room, as we bore witness to the unexpected. Our hearts pounded with fright.
My father walked through the front door bleeding from his nose. His white handkerchief was stained blood red. His movements were slow as a boxer surprisingly stung by an uppercut. He entered the house with measured steps, carefully holding a bloody handkerchief close to his nose, so the blood would not drip on the floor.
We were sitting, chatting, trying not to think of how cold it was outside, and hovering close near the flickering blue, yellow, and red flames. As daddy approached us, we stood up. His bleeding commanded our attention. We rushed to his side, blood dripping on his army green-colored jacket and hands.
My sisters and I in haste lifted his arms to remove his jacket, after he had sat in a chair adjacent to the dining table. Mother rushed to his side. “Oh my God Dorsey, be still,” Mother instructed. “Get me a brown paper bag. Hurry,” she exclaimed.
I don’t remember who rushed to the kitchen one room over, a few steps away, to get the bag. All I remember is one of us did. Mother tore the bag, rolled a larger piece of brown paper and placed it underneath his top lip to no avail.
As time ticked forward, the flow of blood gushed with quickening momentum. It only got worse. The blood jetted like a spigot turned on at full speed. Even big clots came gushing out of his mouth.
My sisters and I gathered towels, newspapers, and even a dishpan to catch the blood. It looked like a crime scene out of a dark movie. My stomach revolted full of butterflies, as I gagged.
Mr. Harvey Gibson, an angel always watching over our shoulders and a dear friend to the family, just happened to drop by and arrived just in time. He rushed Daddy to the hospital. As my father leaned on him to get in his truck, we were all dazed, wondering if he would return home. Mother stayed home to comfort us, encouraged by Daddy to do so.
My father’s face was like a motherless child stumbling in a dark abyss. His eyes were sunken, his face gripped with fear. He had a look of defeat. Our minds were in a state of disarray. We silently wondered if he would return home.
Mother’s hands so stained with blood were shaking. She struggled holding back her tears. “Lawd have mercy,” she cried out loudly. We slowly gathered the wet newspaper. My sisters and I, sobbing, somehow managed to collect the soiled bloody towels and placed them in a tin tub of cold water.
To mop the floor, one of us fetched a bucket with bleach, soap, and warm water. I don’t remember who did so. As night gathered further into darkness, mother paced the floor and we all stayed up anticipating a phone call. Sleep was impossible.
The bleeding stopped and Daddy stayed in the hospital overnight. A balloon was placed in his nose inflated with enough air pressure to stop his nosebleed and I recall it was the best news in the world I had ever received when Mr. Harvey called. That night I balled up in a knot, said a simple prayer, “Thank you Jesus,” and fell asleep wanting to be a Christian in my heart. What a miracle that happened at 814 Camp Street!