Third Time’s an Alarm?

I seem to have backed into period of being accident prone. That there are separate — and understandable — causes for each of these three “accidents” does not mitigate the alarm factor.

I wrote about falling a month ago, a full-frontal splat that jarred my whole body, leaving me with a couple of achy days, but no other damage. My foot had become caught in a strap attached to my carport, and since I hadn’t removed the strap when I should have, that fall could be considered my fault, but still, the fall was a result of an accident rather than a physical problem — no dizziness or weakness or imbalance. It was just one of those things that could happen to anyone (to anyone who let their attention lapse, that is).

What I didn’t write about was a fall that happened a couple of weeks ago. I generally don’t go out at night because it’s harder to see, obviously, but I got a ride from a friend who was attending the same meeting. I’d stepped out of the car, on my way into the town hall, and I tripped on the two-part curb in front of the building. (A brick pathway had been placed on top of the original sidewalk, but since the bricks didn’t go all the way out to the curb, there was a tiny step where the original curb still remained.) The irony was that I had been headed to a meeting to discuss ways to make the town safer, and there it was, a classic example of what needed to be fixed.

A couple of days later, someone asked me how I was and if I’d recovered from my fall. It took me a minute to realize what she was talking about because the fall wasn’t much of anything — the shin pain had dissipated in a couple of minutes, and I’d immediately forgotten the incident. Besides, the woman hadn’t even been there the night it happened. I asked how she knew. She laughed and said, “This is a small town,” Apparently, it’s even smaller and more insular that I thought, because how could such an insignificant fall by a rather insignificant person (insignificant in the grand scheme of town doings, that is) be a topic of conversation?

Then yesterday I went for a walk with a friend. When I’m by myself, I usually walk in the middle of the road where there are no hazards (except an occasional car, of course), but since there were two of us, I was walking off to the side, and suddenly, without warning, my foot slipped out from under me and I slowly but inexorably hit the ground. A neighbor was passing, and he got out of his truck to help, but except for a bruise on my thigh, I was fine and able to get to my feet by myself. I must admit, though, I was (still am) quite perturbed — and alarmed — at falling again.

After asking me how I was, the neighbor said, “I saw you go down.” He explained that I’d slipped on a patch of loose gravel, and then he added, “It wasn’t your fault. There was nothing you could have done.”  My friend agreed and asked me if I were accident prone. I said no. Because I hadn’t been. At least not until a month ago.

Now I need to get her question out of my head because thinking of it might make me accident prone for real, and frankly, three falls are quite enough, thank you very much.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

An Inside Look at a Small Town

Last night I attended a strategy session of the city council. I had no idea that’s what I was doing — the way it was originally explained to me, it seemed a one-time meeting to offer suggestions to improve conditions for senior citizens. Instead, it’s a seven-session focus group to address the needs of the community as a whole.

We discussed various matters, such as what we’d like the town to be, how it is now, how it is perceived by others, what change is under the control of the council and what is not.

Some things that need to be done, such as fixing the sidewalks and the storm drainage problem, are important, but won’t do much for how the town is perceived, though it sure would make it easier to walk! (Those of us who get around on foot generally walk in the streets.)

Most of what needs to be done, as far as I can see, is not under the control of the town. The loose dog situation is the county sheriff’s problem. Other situations are an individual’s problem. So many of the properties are abandoned, not just houses, but strips of what once were small businesses, though these places are probably not actually abandoned but still owned by someone who is simply not doing anything with them. Also, fewer than half the houses here are owner occupied, which makes for a tenuous situation at best, and there is no way to legislate away that ratio.

The council also wants to find a way to keep young adults here, and again, I don’t think it’s possible. The nearby towns that have brought in jobs are those that in the end destroy quality of life — one town brought in a feed lot, which, at certain times of the year, makes the air unbreathable. Same with the towns that brought in marijuana farms. Again, at certain times of the year, the air would be unbreathable. A neighbor a couple houses away has several marijuana plants, and in the summer, the smell of skunk is very strong. I can’t imagine an entire farm of that!

Other agriculture solutions are not feasible since so many rural folks sold their water rights. (That sure stunned me. Didn’t they ever watch westerns, where water rights are worth more than gold? But then, with agriculture collapsing in this area, I suppose they needed the cash in hand.)

Good paying jobs, such as those in the computer industry won’t be coming here, so ambitious young people would want to go out in the world and create a better life for themselves. The best the town can hope for is to make it a place where they want to come home to after they’ve seen and experienced more of life.

I did find it interesting that the youth and the older folk are looking at the situation from two different directions — so many of them are planning to leave, so many of us are here to stay.

A friend once said she thought the town should be advertising itself to seniors — because of the prevalence of small houses and their relatively low price as well as a moderate climate, the place is ideally suited for older people. (I mentioned this idea, but the council doesn’t want to focus on a single demographic.) I tend to think that over the years, this trend toward an older population is going to happen anyway because of the need for cheaper and smaller housing for retirees, though the lack of local doctors and urgent care could be a problem. There are doctors and a hospital about twenty-five miles away, but people who need specialists have to make the long trip to the cities along the front range — such as Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Denver.

No one seemed to care about my idea of an adult jungle gym since they didn’t think it had anything to do with changing how the town is perceived, though I think it does — it shows a progressive bent.

Even though this group isn’t what I thought it was, and even though I don’t really have anything to contribute (I can see the problems but not solutions), I might continue with these sessions. (As long as I can get a ride, that is — I’ve been told that it’s not safe to walk at night here, not even the few blocks to the town hall.) It gives me a different perspective of the town, and the councilwoman for whom I acted as a senior advisor last night wants me to come back. I know this woman from a painting class we took, and I like her, so I might continue for that alone.

Besides, the mayor asked me. Well, obliquely. He said, “Most of you are here because I asked you to come and be advisors, and those I haven’t already asked, I’m asking you now.”

So, there you have it, an inside look at the workings of a small town.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.