Something to think about…
Standing at the edge of the grave on a beautiful June day, looking down at his father’s casket, Larry Smith was more angry than sad. Dave Smith paid the ultimate price for his stubbornness. His death left a void in the family. He was the last of his generation. He had a gift of bringing the old family stories alive.
Dave Smith was a retired County Roads employee. He lived at the end of a dirt road, in between the neighbor’s potato field and wooded foothills. His home of fifteen years was a two-story farmhouse that had been in the family for 100 years. He lived alone after his wife, Alma, died 3 years ago. For the past year Larry has been worried about his father being able to continue to live safely in the old house. Larry, an electrician, worked more overtime than he wanted. Even so, he made an arrangement with his boss to take off the second Saturday and Sunday each month. That way he could make the three-hour drive to see his father, help with chores and visit. The other weekends he called every Sunday afternoon to check in.
Larry was aware his father had been falling. Last year ago in May, he broke his leg falling from a ladder while trying to unstick a painted second story window. It never healed right and would give way without warning. When walking around the house, his father would walk slowly moving from his easy chair to the desk, then the back of the sofa so he could get to the kitchen without falling. Stairs were hard for Dave. He would use the banister to pull himself up or stop his falling forward on the way down. Larry offered to build a ramp for the back steps. Dave said he did not need it. He rejected the idea of using a cane, wearing an alert, or carrying a phone.
On his last visit Larry suggested to Dave that he move his things from the second story bedroom into the first floor guestroom and adjoining bathroom. That way he would not have to bother with the stairs. Upstairs the bathroom was across the hall from the bedroom. Dave refused to move. He said he liked the view from the second story windows.
The next week Dave fell down the stairs in the early morning when walking to the bathroom. After the fall, he was paralyzed from the waist down. He would never walk again. Moving to a nursing home was the only solution. His needs were too great for the family to care for him. Dave died six months after the fall. He never returned to the family home.
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