Monday, January 19, 2009
Leif's 8th Birthday - Sagamihara, Japan - January 28, 1983 - Age 8
Leif's eighth birthday was the second one he spent with an injury. His first birthday, he had a burned hand, which I wrote about here long ago, and for his eighth birthday, he sported a cast on his arm. He had broken his arm during recess at school when he fell off the monkey bars.
When we lived in Sachsen bei Ansbach, Germany, before moving to Japan, my friend Bunny had observed that Leif was so able to withstand pain that "you could cut off his arm he and would say, 'that doesn't hurt.'" That was obviously an exaggeration, but there was a very large grain of truth in it. Leif could stand physical pain, though he didn't do as well with the sight of blood. He maintained a bravado that hid his vulnerable feelings, so he seemed very tough, even though his photos betray his innocence and vulnerability.
One day at school, that January 1983, after he fell on the playground, he simply went back to class for the rest of the day. He was supposed to take the bus from the school, where he was a second grader, to the child care center, because at that time I was working full time for the Japan Engineer District and didn't get home until after five.
That day, when school got out, he went to the office and calmly asked to use the phone. He called me at my office and just said, "Mommy, can you come and get me?" I asked him why, whether he had missed the bus. "No," he said, "I think I broke my arm."
Before I could get any more details out of him, he hung up. I didn't even know where he was. He hadn't told his teacher or anyone else that his arm was broken. He had just stayed in class all afternoon and done his work.
I was really worried and didn't know where to find him, but on the chance that he probably had called from school, since that's where he would get the bus, I called the school and asked if they had seen him in the office. They said they had, but they had no idea about any broken arm. They had to go out to the bus stop to find him.
Meanwhile I called Peter W., who rushed over there to get him. And there he is, with his cast on his arm, blowing out his candles.
The second photo shows Peter W. acting silly, like a sci fi monster, and Leif's friend Atul is with him.
Leif is wearing a jacket that Peter got for him in Korea.
Happy Birthday, Leif!