By Mel McConaghy
I have lost many people over the years.
I have lost family, and I have lost friends. It hurt to lose any one of them, but I lost a friend the other day, and it really, really hurt. I guess it hurt so much, because he was such a fighter that I never thought I would live to see him go.
Gordon Checkley was born, and spent his whole life, in Prince George. He was one of the most extraordinary people that I have ever met. Gordon was involved in a bad industrial accident in the late 60’s or early 70’s. While he was standing on the low bed trailer’s tires, guiding a chipper shaft onto his truck, the crane loading him inadvertently touched a high-tension wire on a power line.
The electrical current, about 25,000 volts, ran down through his hands, his body and then out the soles of his feet.
It was so hot, it burnt right through the soles of his boots. When they got him to the hospital, they’d almost written him off. They flew him out to a hospital in Vancouver, and started to work on him. He was in that hospital for over two years, while they cut off this and that. They took off his left hand below where his watch strap had been, his right thumb, and his right leg below the knee.
I remember going to see him twice while he was down there. You could visit him any time, night or day. The nurses and staff thought the world of him, because even with his constant pain and discomfort, he was always happy and never complained. One time I went to see him, and I had to go out of the room while the doctor examined him. When the doctor came out, I asked him how anyone could have survived that big of an electrical shock going through their body. He told me that extraordinary things happen to extraordinary people, and Gordon was proof. He said that heart beats are controlled by electrical impulses from the brain, and when Gordon got hit, his heart was in between heartbeats, otherwise he would have been dead.
With his hand bandaged, and a leg missing, you’d have thought that he’d feel sorry for himself. But not Gordon. No, Gordon was one of those extraordinary people who had guts, and it was just another obstacle for him to overcome. When he got out of the hospital, and into rehabilitation, it took him a period of time to master all the new ‘rigging’, as he liked to call his new leg and hook. The next thing that anyone knew, he’d changed careers and had learned to run a loader. In fact, the man, whom many had considered a permanent invalid, transformed from being one of the best low-bedders in the whole country, to one of its best loader operators! Handicapped is a word that extraordinary people hate, and Gordon was no exception. It was an honor, and a privilege, to have known him. Rest in peace, old friend.
My Life Through a Broken Windshield by Mel McConaghy
Mel McConaghy is a retired trucker and author from Prince George, British Columbia. Mel’s tales are his views of life “through a broken windshield”. They are entertaining and humorous in a folksy style.
Visit Mel’s website at www.melmcconaghy.com