SHORTLY AFTER SCRAMBLING out of her sleeping bag, before she got dressed for the day and wolfed down two slices of toast smothered in peanut butter and strawberry jelly, my 6-year-old granddaughter was already asking, “Grandma, when can we play BINGO?” It was only 7:15 a.m. and her brother was still sleeping. I was in my PJs, hadn’t had coffee or breakfast yet and needed to toss clothes in the wash.
But Isabelle was singularly focused. Her love for BINGO was sparked by playing the game at the annual Helbling family reunion six days prior. Young and old alike gathered in the shelter at Palmer Park in central Minnesota to try their luck at this time-honored game of chance. The prizes ranged from kitchen gadgets for the adults to ring pops, play dough and more for the kids. Nothing costly. Just simple prizes. But, more importantly, time together making memories.
With that backstory, Izzy was delighted to find BINGO balls, a cage, cards and tokens inside a box at Grandpa and Grandma’s house when she and Isaac, 3, arrived for an overnight visit. That first evening we played plenty of BINGO with Izzy as the caller, then Grandpa, then grandfather and grandson. I was content to play. The kids were happy to win small coinage.
Given her enthusiasm, Izzy asked to play BINGO again the next day. I promised, but did not expect game time to commence at her requested 7:15 a.m.
Finally, by 9 a.m., we gathered around the dining room table for our first round of BINGO. Except the start was delayed again…because I got up to do something and on the way back to my chair, while skirting around Randy, stubbed my little toe on the peninsula baseboard. Not just the type of stub that stings for maybe a minute, but rather a serious “insert a bad word I thought but couldn’t say” type of pain. Randy remarked that he heard a snap. Not good.
I assessed that I’d likely broken my little toe based on the #10 level of pain—enough to make me cry—I was experiencing. I am not inexperienced in the pain of a broken bone having broken my right shoulder and shattered my left wrist in recent years.
“Better call Amber to come and get the kids,” I advised Randy as I moved to the sofa so I could elevate my foot. Already I was feeling bad about BINGO and ruining everyone’s day. While we waited for our eldest to arrive from the south metro, the trio played BINGO, enough for the kids to win quarters. Randy also hung laundry on the line and I sneaked in a few comforting hugs from Izzy and Isaac.
By that time the siblings realized their stay with Grandma and Grandpa was ending prematurely. The 3-year-old plopped himself on the living room floor and emphatically declared, “I don’t want to go home! I want to stay!” Finally, I called Isaac over to look at my smartphone calendar to see when we might plan his next overnight visit. That, thankfully, placated him.
Once the grandkids were packed and on their way home with their mom, we focused on getting me to the clinic. I knew not much can be done for a broken toe. But I didn’t want a misaligned toe and future problems if I didn’t get it checked. Randy made calls and was advised I needed to be seen in urgent care since the clinic had no open appointments. Alright then. It was Friday and I expected a long wait awaited me.
But that wasn’t the worst. Randy dropped me off at the door and I hobbled inside…only to learn that urgent care didn’t open until noon. And it was only 10:45. The check-in staff apologized profusely for the failure of the metro-based call center to tell Randy of the noon opening. Their frustration was clear as they advised me to return around 11:45 to register and then wait.
So I limped back out, trying to walk in a way that minimized my pain. I uttered a few words that I wouldn’t want my grandkids to hear.
When we returned to the clinic, I queued number nine, eventually made my way to x-ray and then got the diagnosis. Much to my surprise, my little toe was not broken, but rather badly sprained. I felt thankful for that mercy. I left with a walking boot and instructions to ice and elevate. Over-the-counter meds manage the pain, which is minimal now. However, my little toe and the adjoining toe plus half of my foot are swollen and bruised.
So that’s my BINGO story. Not one of luck, but rather of unintended bad luck and a whole lot of guilt about sending Isabelle and Isaac home too early. Way too early for this grandma.
© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling