Humor Non-Fiction posted March 4, 2023

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Things happen with little warning so be prepared.

Adventures of Living Alone

by BethShelby

Living alone as one ages, carries some risks.  After 5 years alone, my only concern is my quarter-mile driveway up a steep, curved tree-lined hill. With shallow roots, high winds topple trees over the drive throughout the year.

I often hear, “Mom, what if you fall without a phone handy? Your knees are bad. You need to wear a Life Alert”

“No," I answer. “It would drive me crazy. I'd constantly set it off. If I fall, I’ll get up, or crawl to a phone.”

I'm a klutz, because I trip and fall a lot, but I’ve always gotten up. As I age, I try to be more careful. It’s harder to balance, and I fall faster and harder than I once did. 

Recently, my rolling desk chair slipped from under me when I stooped. I had trouble sitting for 6 weeks. I got up, as I always do, but it isn’t pretty to watch. On my knees, with my butt in the air, I’m able to rise. When outside, I avoid uneven ground lest I stub a toe and trip. Crawling toward a phone from the great outdoors, would be very stressful.

Events of yesterday shook my confidence. Under an all-day tornado watch, I skipped my exercise class and stayed home. Knowing I’d see no one, I didn’t bother dressing or combing my hair. I stayed in my gown and dingy terrycloth robe. Despite its straggly appearance, it’s light-weight, warm and comfortable.

By late afternoon, the sun came out, and the tornado alert ended. I was waiting on a check, and with my mailbox missing its back, I feared my mail might be blown out or wet from the earlier torrential rain.

I didn’t bother dressing for the quick car trip down the hill to my mailbox. At the start of my drive, a small tree and branches blocked my way. I managed to move the debris with no problem. 30 feet from the street, on the steepest part of the drive, a larger tree was down. I wasn’t sure I could move it, but I was determined to try.

Walking down the sloping rain-soaked blacktop, covered with twigs and pine straw, in a pair of loose-fitting felt house shoes, wasn’t smart, but I pressed on, tossing fallen branches to the side. Then one shoe caught on something. It was like some unseen force slung me violently onto the pavement. I went down on my left side with my arm crushed beneath me.

Burning pain shot from my shoulder to my hand. I thought my arm was broken. Still, I dared not lie there long. I had to get up. I couldn’t get my legs in position to push up with my body and head pointing down the hill. Twisting until my body sloped upward, I managed to stagger to an unsteady stance.

Locating my lost shoe, I attempted to pick up one end of the twenty-foot tree using only my right hand. My left arm hung loose, throbbing in pain. I think I had divine help, because I managed to swing the tree around and off the road. As big as it looked, it didn't seem that heavy.

A truck passed on the street below me. Seeing me in passing, the driver stopped and backed up. I was humiliated. I must have looked like a wild woman in my old robe with hair standing in every direction.

“Hey, are you alright?” he shouted from the street. 

“Yes,” I yelled.  “I’m fine. I just had to move a tree off the road.”

Who would want to tangle with something that looked like a hobgoblin capable of lifting a tree? He got in his truck and drove on. I got into my car; thankful he hadn’t dared come closer.

Back home, I couldn’t use my left arm, and my knee throbbed as well. After icing my aching body parts, I felt better, but my swollen wrist, appeared broken. My fingers moved slightly, but my hand wouldn’t move up and down, nor could I tolerate pressure on my left arm.

I never realized how much we need two hands. Maybe in a few days, I’ll be able to dress myself again. I'll reassess the situation and decide if my wrist needs a cast.  In the future, my plan is to wear decent attire, before going anywhere near the street.

Until then, I’ll just move slowly, stay out of sight, and try to figure out how one-armed people survive.

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