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Good News — Thanks to those who are always ready to lend a helping hand |

Good News — Thanks to those who are always ready to lend a helping hand

Saturday afternoons without something to do can be a rarity when working at a small newspaper — no dinners, no fundraisers, nothing requiring a photograph or a story.

From right after Christmas until what seems like the last time the snow melts in the spring, the amount of extra activities declines in Preston County. Nobody wants to set up a grand event only to have Mother Nature and Jack Frost be the sole participants. Until mid-March, the chances of having a work-free weekend are better than average.


But, of course, nature abhors a vacuum — even when it’s free time.

I had settled into the recliner for an afternoon of catching up on my movie list, and I had the whole room to myself. The dogs that normally lie on my feet and wedge themselves into what little room is left in the chair had all journeyed to the kitchen to supervise the dinner preparations. Taste-testing always trumps napping for them, so the snoozing duties were left entirely to me.

I had just about fulfilled that task in the middle of an umpteenth viewing of “The Godfather Part II” when the thud in the kitchen jarred me awake. I thought it was one of the huge cast-iron skillets, and I imagined the canine trio scurrying around the floor to clean up stir-fried vegetables.

As Al Pacino as Michael Corleone prepared his exit from Havana, I contemplated whether an extensive study of the inside of my eyelids was worth the time.

I need some help in the kitchen.”

I was awake again, and Mom had just come to the doorway.

“OK, but the dogs should have everything cleaned up by the time I get there,” I thought as I got up to address the mess.

But when I got to the kitchen, it wasn’t food on the floor. On the ground between his chair, the refrigerator and the back stairway, Dad was sprawled every which way.

Not a problem, I concluded initially. He’s had several falls over the years, and it was one of the reasons why I had returned to live in Terra Alta. I went up one set of stairs and came down the other to get behind him and hoist him back into his chair. At that point, he uttered one word that indicated something was more serious than usual: “Ouch.”

Not a scream or cry of pain, he was was keeping that word to himself. A victim of several injuries over the decades, Dad has been stoic when it comes to pain. He generally doesn’t share his condition with his family, and certainly not with others — so that one “ouch” was enough to indicate that something was excruciating.

Back in his chair, he told Mom matter-of-factly what was wrong: “I’ve gone and broken my hip.”

And with that, the process started, just like it does several times a week around the county. A call was placed to the 911 center, and after a minute of gathering information, an ambulance was dispatched. A few minutes after that, the ambulance was in front of our house.

Aboard were a brother-and-sister team, Viola and Jimmy Bennett. I had gone to school with many of the Bennett siblings and worked with another — and I hadn’t seen Jimmy since he had graduated. In between answering health questions and gathering vital statistics, our two families chatted in the kitchen about who knew whom, where people had gone after school into their careers. If it weren’t for the stretcher in the dining room, it would have been like any other social call.

And that’s a hallmark of the volunteer effort in small communities — we know each other, and when someone needs help, we try to lend a hand where we can. The volunteer fire departments and ambulance services in our towns may not be first and foremost in our minds, but when the time comes that we need them, we’re certainly glad they’re around. We generally don’t consider the time and money spent by each volunteer to ensure that qualified help is always a phone call away, but when they show up at our doorsteps, they are the most welcome sight imaginable

Things could have been worse for Dad, and the recovery process will take time, but I take comfort in the knowledge that there are people out there willing to give of themselves to make sure Dad and every other person in this county have access to emergency services. To them, I offer a most sincere and heartfelt thanks.

Category: Skillets  Tags: ,  Comments off
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