Bobby and his brother worked to remove a weakened section of a tree that teetered over the house
Saturday, September 25, 2004, Bobby and his brother worked to remove a weakened section of a tree that teetered over the house. Not his tree and not his house, he had been hired to help protect the house of someone else. Bobby climbed thirty feet up into tree. He sat on the branch like a saddle firmly gripping the tree for stability. He began to cut.
The previous two hurricanes had battered this tree; it would not make it through the winds of Hurricane Jeanne. Bobby kept cutting. A breeze began to blow. Thinking through the process, Bobby knew that at some point, he would have cut enough and this portion of the tree would drop to the ground. He continued to cut. The wind continued to blow, but nothing alarming.
After pausing to wipe sweat from his brow, he resumed cutting. The saw broke through, the damaged section was free, but it did not fall.
Al, Bobby’s brother, had tied a rope from the damaged section of the tree to his truck. He looked up and what he saw surprised him: like a kite on the end of a string, the tree flew in the air. It then crashed into his brother. “Bobby!”
Bobby saw it coming; he hollered. The wind caught the tree and slammed it into Bobby. He ducked and covered his head in self-defense. The tree struck a mighty blow busting his chin, but Bobby prevented a crushing head injury and pushed the attacking tree away. Still it did not fall.
Again, the wind hurled the tree into Bobby’s chest crushing his shoulder and ribs. Gasping for air, Bobby sought to free himself from the tree. With his failing strength, he pushed it from his bleeding body, and the tree finally fell to the ground.
Bobby could hear his brother talking to him. Al called to the slumped form of his brother, “Bobby! Bobby!” “Bro, I’m going to die,” Bobby tried to yell. “I’m coming to get you,” Al screamed up as he began his assent. “Please hurry, I can’t breathe,” Bobby sat weakly in the saddle of the tree that kept him from falling. Al could not reach his brother. “I can’t move my left side,” replied Bobby to his brother’s suggestion to climb down to meet him. “Use your right side and slide down to me.” Relief filled Bobby as he felt his brother’s arms wrap around him. He had made it. Together they climbed the remaining distance to the ground.
Paramedics rushed Bobby to Orlando Regional Emergency Department at Orlando Regional Medical Center where the process began to heal his body. The repeated blows from the tree crushed his shoulder, broke five ribs in the front and another five in the back, and collapsed his lung. After his various surgeries and other procedures, the pain would often bring Bobby to tears. The same man who possesses a full head of grey hair and can wear out a pair of shoes on the dance floor, cried from the pain.
When team members from ORMC’s eighth floor discovered Bobby’s artistic side, they supplied him with paper, colored pencils, and markers to create his masterpieces. Friends, family, and caregivers each received a piece of art drawn by Bobby. “It is just for pleasure,” Bobby explains humbly. “It helps pass the time and gets my mind off the pain.” Bobby’s room at ORMC testifies of his talent with pictures of beautiful flowers and butterflies in front of peaceful water scenes.
Two weeks after the battle with the tree, ‘ORMC’s artist on the eighth floor’ returned home.