from Deanna Lee Birkholm

June 22, 2009

Resident Angels


I have wonderful neighbors. Angels actually. A retired doctor and his RN office nurse across the street, and next door to them, a retired airline pilot and retired stewardess (yes they really were called that) - the male counterparts were stewards. Makes sense to me, but that was before all the current political correctness of course.

After JC's death and my return here (well actually parts of JC are here, a box of his ashes, sitting on the chair he used when he tied at the desk.) The desk looks out over the back yard, the little ponds and it is quite lovely at this time of the year. In our absence the angels across the street checked the house - this may seem either silly or dumb, but we've lived in this house for twenty years and had one house key. Our housekeeper, Sherida, had the key so she could get in if we were gone. Our 'angels' decided that would not do at all. And I mean AT ALL! So David got the key from Sherida, and had a key made for them, another for the doctor and his wife El, and one for me! Sherida got hers back and everyone is happy. Darn, almost civilized.

However, when you think about it, our angels really were watching over us. Because of all the stress and whatever all goes with not functioning properly after JCs death, I had a change of medicines. I woke up Friday morning a week ago, stumbled out to turn the coffee on, and picked up my broken glasses off the dining room carpet. I reassembled the glasses, you know the frameless ones made with mono, and came into the den to turn on the computers. I checked a couple of emails and went into the bathroom to wash up and brush my hair. I really hadn't looked at myself as I went about my doings, but when I did look in the mirror I scared myself. The left-hand side of my face was badly swollen; a VERY black eye (along with purple which a week later is still purple now turning green) and frankly, I scared myself.

Worse, I have no idea of what happened. No recollection at all. It was Friday, my doctor's office is closed on Friday, I didn't want to go to the Emergency Room, but fortunately after having the same doctor for nearly twenty years, I have her phone numbers at home and the cell numbers as well. She called the X-Ray clinic and sent me in for an X-Ray. Of course at that point she hadn't seen the face. (She did later in the day when she came by to check me out. And yes she really does make house calls!)

So I dressed, when down to the clinic, Dr. Hanna the radiologist took one look, tenderly touched my face and promptly scheduled a Cat Scan. There was some interior swelling, but it did not break through and bleed into my brain (or what's left of it.). I didn't need a prescription for pain pills, have those, but they recommended ice to get the swelling down. A week later and with a pretty good (like house paint) coat of makeup I was able to attend a lovely concert with our other neighboring angels yesterday afternoon.

The doc, his wife Ellen, the pilot David and wife CJ check on me every day, and if I don't answer the phone in what they consider a proper time, they are at the front door. They check the back yard, and if I'm not there, they come in. Remember the keys?

I know I'm not a kid, but on the other hand, I'm not an old disabled woman either. It appears I had a reaction of some sort - or maybe I just stumbled and fell. Whatever it was it was serious enough to totally lose consciousness, and have NO memory of what happened. I didn't break anything other than the glasses, but I could have (guess I pass the bone density test for this time). No, my guardian angels didn't need to use the keys. This time.

Neil Travis (Trav) also made a point on the phone that I am now a single woman living alone and 'bait' for some nasty people who prey on recent widows. He asked if I locked my doors at night.

Oops. I don't even usually lock the doors if I make a mail run into town. That has stopped. I guess I find it hard to accept our world has changed to the point where one isn't even safe in your own home. I hate it - but it is the truth. Seen the reports about home invasions on TV?

There is now a little 'phone tree.' If one of my 'angels' calls (depending on the car being in the drive way) and I don't answer, someone is going to check on me. Physically in the house check.

This all may sound a bit overblown or silly even, but we have all read about someone who was found by the police after someone reported a really bad smell coming from 'that house over there.'

As in dead.

With me this far?

Who has access to your home? Is there an emergency number anyone in your family or friends knows in case someone needs to reach you? Think you can drag yourself to the phone? I WAS OUT LIKE A LIGHT AND HAD NO RECOLLECTION OF ANYTHING. With just a little more bad luck I could have bled into my brain and died before anyone found me. And by the way, it is over a week later and I still don't know what happened. We checked the carpet for blood, the bed, and there should have been some somewhere, because my face was absolutely caked in dried blood.

If you think you know your neighbors? Super. Got their phone numbers? What if something happens at THEIR house? Who do you contact? This is not silly stuff. It is DEADLY. Start an Emergency List. Put it in a prominent place. Put the local 911 number at the top (some areas use the local sheriff's number instead - check and make sure you know which it is). List the neighbors, make sure someone you trust has a key to your house - the local sheriff deputy in our neighborhood told me a good way to insure a little trust going in your neighborhood is to GET your neighbor's key when you give them yours. Use a piece of brightly colored ribbon tied to the key, write your phone number on the ribbon. Just one more double check.

This little piece of safety I now have is more than I have had in my entire life. And you know what? It feels terrific. Having Jim die like he did was awful, and I don't know where the fear came from because while I was in the Bahamas I felt perfectly safe. They all watched over me like mother hens.

But once home, I was scared; all the time unless someone was here with me. No reason. It just was.

Thanks to some smart planning (certainly not on my part, I wasn't thinking clearly enough to take care of myself) I now feel safe - and secure. And let's add one more to that. I have access to the doc's house and also have the phone number of their medic son. I have contact info for David and CJ and the next door neighbors to them as well. We didn't start out to do anything as involved as a neighborhood watch as such - but because they cared enough to DO SOMETHING, we are all safer.

Sit down over dinner or a cup of coffee and figure out what it would take to make your home and family safer. That includes your folks too - make a list and just do it.

Thank God I was lucky this time - but I might not be another time. And someone will know and act on it.

Talk about angels?

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