Andy Rotunno, college days. Probably 2001.
My Husband’s Teeth
I wanted to keep a piece of the wooden entryway floor—the piece with Andy’s teeth marks in it—but my in-laws tore out the hardwood floors right before Christmas and replaced them with beautiful tiles. It happened so quickly that I didn’t think to ask for that piece of the wood floor until it was too late.
The high school girls at church who had read my book and knew the love story between Andy and me said, “No! You have to get that piece of the floor and frame it! You have to keep it to show your kids and grandkids!”
My husband Andy almost died when he was nine years old. He fell from the second story of the house when he was playing a game with his brothers. He leaned over the railing at the top of the stairs, and fell head-first, landing on his face on the hard wood floor below. He broke his two front teeth and his wrist, which was a miracle. His spinal cord was fine.
I wrote the story in my book Goodnight to My Thoughts of You. Here the character of Miriam (Chelsea) learns why her new friend Charlie (Andy) has front teeth that do not match his other teeth. It’s because they are fake.
From Chapter 26: New Year’s Eve
After midnight, when everyone over 21 left, the real party started. We went in the hot tub, roasted marshmallows over the fire pit, and told ghost stories. Half of the group went out with a video camera to find a haunted house where a lady wanders outside looking for her dead husband. Charlie and I stayed back and talked.
The group came back with a video of the woman in a white dress coming out of her house, going into her garage, then running back into her front door. Everyone was screaming as Jack replayed the footage over and over.
Later, Jack asked Charlie to show us a reenactment of how he fell off the banister when he was little.
“What? What happened?” We all wanted to know.
“Well, first let me show you the teeth marks in the wood floor,” Charlie said. Everyone got down on their hands and knees by the staircase. Sure enough, there was an indentation in the floor that was shaped like front teeth.
“When I was in fourth grade, after my parents’ divorce, my brothers and I were home with a babysitter, and we were chasing each other with a rubber snake. I had the snake upstairs, and my brothers were downstairs. I leaned over the top to throw the snake at them, and I leaned too far, too fast. I fell face-first, landed on my teeth, and broke my wrist. I should have died, pretty much. My teeth saved me. They took most of the impact. So ever since fourth grade, I’ve had these false front teeth.”
Jack had his camera ready. “We have to do a re-enactment.”
Luke directed the photo sequence:
1. Charlie at the top of the stairs
2. Charlie leaning over the banister
3. Charlie falling (with the help of his buddies hanging him over the banister)
4. A close-up of Charlie’s face on the floor
5. A close-up of the teeth marks in the wood
6. Charlie lying in the dead man’s pose on the floor
We were laughing and crying at the same time, making light of something we knew was very serious. The weight of his near-death experience was upon us, and even though we could not stop laughing, we spoke about it with reverence in our hearts.
“God wanted you alive,” I said, giving Charlie a side hug and leaning my head on his shoulder.
We decided to take a group shot of all of us on the stairs. I sat next to Charlie. Right before the camera flashed, I linked my arm in his.
Here is the real photo sequence from our first New Year’s Eve, when we were “just friends.”
It’s more important to keep the story alive than to keep a piece of the wood floor, right?