Man in the Middle, Mom on the Sidelines

This is a repost from MONDAY, JULY 26, 2010 from my old blog. It was a good day gone horribly bad. It strikes me as I read my own words how very first person the narrative is, maybe even narcissistic. But I wanted to get the story down before I forgot it and I wanted to give some props for the folks in my world who are so good to me.


Dill Pickers at at Morgan Arts Council

It is July 24th and I’ve been looking forward to this moment since the blizzard back in February. I’ve just sung two of my favorite songs, played bass like a man, and my husband, two microphones away, is about to sing a big crowd pleaser, “The Man in the Middle.” The band is hot (I’m so lucky to be playing with these guys), the summer breeze is cool, the sound crew is skilled, the folks at Morgan Arts Council are wonderful. This is a terrific day and a terrific moment to be here and now.

And then in a flash of chance and gravity, things go horribly wrong.

I look up from the stage and see my son, Jim Dill, in horrible pain, and bleeding profusely from a gash in his shin.

A million thoughts and impulses fly through my head like a freight train. My heart leaps out of my chest, across the canal, and into the gaping wound. How did things go so bad so fast?

OK, let’s go back in time.

It’s February 2010. I’m snowed-in in what will be known as the Snowpocalypse. The phone rings and it’s Gordon Macleod from the Morgan Arts Council. He says they want the Dill Pickers to play in their summer concert series. My friend Lynn Greer has helped us get this gig by hand carrying our press kit and I’m so happy for her support. Now, they say they like our sound and we discuss the business end (I’m terrible at this) and schedules and money and such. I grab my laptop and email the other pickers, who are as excited as I am. This is gonna be a great summer.

Fast forward a month or two and add the much prayed for springtime thaw. I’m cyber-chatting with my good buddy Ron Furgerson. Ron has been a Dill Picker supporter from the beginning and has even used our music in some of his youTube videos. Ron would really really really like to have a video of us performing “The Man in the Middle.” I would, too, and I think that maybe this summer’s gig in Berkeley Springs will be a great time to film it.

And that’s how it happened.

At the gig, Jim was hired to be videographer and photographer. He was using my camera to take some stills and some video. I had asked him to be sure to get “The Man in the Middle” on video. Jim was not expecting to have to be filming so early in the set and was nowhere close to the stage when I asked him publicly and into the mic to start the video. Jim’s a good photographer and he takes his job seriously so he rushed back to the stage to catch the song from the beginning. And he almost got it, too.

But on the way, he had to cross the stone waterway. One leg makes it, the other leg slams shin first into the edge of the stone retaining wall. *Expletive*

And we got the aftermath on video, because even badly hurt, Jim does what he says he will do. So as the camera runs, you can hear Jim react to the fall, the blood, the wound, and the feeling that his leg may be broken. The video is very hard to watch. For the first 10 seconds, Jim is breathing heavily and groaning in pain. And yet, somehow he continues to hold the camera and continue with the video. At 0:55, he says calmly “That was a mistake.” At 1:38, someone off camera comes to help and offers to bring some ice. At 2:14, the folks getting ice alert the wonderful Dr. Matt. Yes, there’s a doctor in the house. Hallelujah. The ice arrives at 2:24 and Jim asks for medical attention, initially asking for an ambulance, but getting a better solution with Dr. Matt just a few feet away. Dr. Matt and my friend Kathryn Rack arrive at 3:00, one to check out the situation and then retrieve his black bag, and the other to check out the situation and offer help with the video camera. At 3:30, Jim utters the understatement “I tried to jump the gap.”

From 3:30 on, the video looks normal. Kat frames the band, even getting happy footage of the dancing girl on the front row.

Looks normal from the outside, but I know what’s happening on the inside. My child is in terrible pain, maybe even terrible danger, and my heart is breaking with worry and guilt. But on the tape, I look fine, sing fine, play fine. You can’t tell what’s going on inside me. I suppose that’s a good thing.

At 4:40, before the song is over, I turn to Frank and ask him to talk for 30 seconds so I can run off stage and check it out. I drop my bass and scurry off to see about Jim. By that time, Dr. Matt is in motion, Jim has shown that he can walk on the leg, and I’m a little bit calmer. Frank is wonderful, chatting happily with the crowd about anything and everything. I’m back on stage a few seconds after that and the show must go on.

Now that it’s over, a few words of heart-felt thanks.

Now that it’s over and the gig still went well, now that we know that Jim’s leg is not broken and he didn’t need stitches or an ambulance ride or a tetanus shot, now that we got that Berkeley Springs crowd to dance a little in the 99 degree heat, now is the time for me to express my gratitude to the folks who were so fabulous.

Thanks to my fellow band members, Keith Dill and Jamie Leonard, and especially to Frank Nanna, for holding it together and covering for me while I freaked out inside. I definitely lost my mojo that day and these guys made it all fine with their amazing musical skills and supportive attitudes. Frank’s banter while I ran off stage is just another example of what a great entertainer and improvisor he is. I am so lucky to be playing with you all.

Thanks to my friend Kat Rack, who was wearing a MOMS ROCK piece of flair, for stepping in to quietly fill in the mama role. You rock, indeed my friend. I don’t think you had to do much, but seeing you there and knowing that you had your eye and your love on things is so greatly appreciated.

Thanks to the Morgan Arts Council for their support, in particular to Dr. Matt Hahn for answering “yes” to “Is there a doctor in the house?”

And thanks to all the kind folks who came out to the gig. We had so much fun and you guys make our work all play. You rock our worlds and we love you like nothing else. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Hope to see you again, maybe next year.


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