|When I was about eight, one of the strangest, scariest, and possibly most revealing moments of my life occurred.
I was driving with my family to my grandparents’ apartment to take them with us to dinner. My father was driving, my sister and I were in the front seat (this was back before seatbelt laws), and my mother was in the backseat, where my grandparents would join her. My dad pulled to the curb and my mother slid over to make room. My grandfather climbed in first and slid to the middle spot, and then my grandmother started to enter.
For some reason, my father thought everyone was safely inside the car, so he started to pull away—before my grandmother had gotten all the way inside.
She was a tiny woman, but somehow she mustered the strength to lift herself and hang onto the open door, her legs dangling in the air—until our screams alerted my father to slam on the brake.
Thankfully, my grandmother was fine. But the real horror started a few seconds after she was safely seated and my dad started driving again. Suddenly my grandfather convulsed with tears. He hunched his back and gripped my grandmother’s elbow and sobbed. Evidently seeing my grandmother in that situation terrified him to no end.
What ensued was chaos. My grandmother scolded my grandfather to pull himself together, not wanting to believe, I think, that she’d been in real danger. My mother screamed, also frightened by what had happened. My sister started yelling at my mother to stop screaming, and my father—wracked with guilt—shook violently as he mopped the heavy sweat accumulating on his forehead.
And I took it all in.