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Independent.ie

Sunday 17 December 2017

My brother was lucky to escape with torn sleeves

Ann Fitzgerald

Ann Fitzgerald

It is Christmas Eve 1983. I am 19 years old. I am standing at the kitchen table pushing the stuffing into the turkey. My 16-year-old brother Gerry comes into the room and stands nearby.

We are all busy trying to get the jobs done, on the farm and in the house, before the holiday season so I only give him a half-glance.

In this moment, I see that he seems to be shirtless and can remember half-thinking "gosh, he's hot in himself".

After a few seconds, my mind kicks into gear.

Its the middle of winter.

So I look again.

I realise that he's not totally unclothed on top. There are actually torn bands of cloth around both arms.

Then I also see that there are cuts on his back; several series of scrape lines, what I imagine the paw marks of a large predator would look like.

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I stop what I am doing and blandly ask "are you all right?"

He looks at me silently and I realise that he is very dazed and scarcely able to stand.

Over the following days the details of what had happened gradually emerged.

When we have been involved in something bad, we relive it in slow motion, as if observers rather than participants in a movie which is always going to have to have the same inevitable outcome.

At the time we had several horses and used to roll the oats ourselves, using a corn crusher driven by the tractor PTO. He had reached over the PTO which was unguarded and got caught up by it.

He was knocked unconscious. He remembers waking up some indiscernible time later.

Other than the superficial cuts, he had a broken arm.

He was lucky.

Lucky that his shirt had torn (leaving the sleeves behind) and, luckily again, that there was no draw bar so there was a few feet clearance between the shaft and the ground so he was thrown clear, and, with even further luck, that it was into an open space.

Indo Farming