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If a Tree Falls…

Welcome to the Tuolumne County Commission on Aging blog: it’s our ongoing effort that we hope will be the first of many aimed to bring information to help and inform seniors in our county.

“If a Tree Falls….”

We on the Commission often spend time discussing senior isolation. Sometimes we have anecdotal examples. I have one now. It’s a story about a tree. Well, sort of. No, I’m not going to go into the philosophical riddle that asks whether a falling tree makes a sound if no one is there. I want to talk about what happens after one falls, and this time someone IS there – but to give a helping hand. In the recent snowstorms, a tree fell into the gully in back of my house. My neighbor’s HUGE oak fell across two property lines, mine and that of another neighbor back there. What a mess.

This means, of course, that there is a lot of firewood to be had. The oak’s owner, who lives in Malibu most of the year, has promised to do cleanup, but in the meantime, he has very cleverly offered free firewood to anyone willing to cut up the branches and trunk of this monster and haul out some of the mess. Keith, who lives across the street from me, a big burly guy, is one.

Anyway, the other day, I saw Keith working away back there with a chain saw. He told me that he was concerned about me because he saw my scooter parked in back, and he could see it hadn’t moved in a couple of weeks since there were no tracks down my ramp in the snow. So, he says, he reckoned that I had gone to my son’s house in Twain Harte for the duration. I said, “No, I was here. I didn’t leave the house for two weeks. I work at home and I have lots of food in my freezer.” (Actually, two people came and shoveled the ramp, including my son, but snow came again, and then again.) He went on to say, “I wish you had let me know. I would have come over to shovel you out!”- he said with a big smile. He made me promise to do so next time. We exchanged phone numbers, and I thanked him.

As I thought about this kind man whose name I knew, but that was all, it occurred to me that had I known him better, I certainly would have taken advantage of his offer during that bleak period of unending snow. The point? Seniors, get to know your neighbors, if you haven’t already. I’m 66 years-old, not the youngster I was, but I have trouble asking for help. However, I just didn’t know. THAT is the point: I DIDN’T KNOW. I hadn’t taken the time, and I didn’t have his phone number… YET.

I think it’s a good reminder: How often are there people more than willing to help, if only we knew them better. I’m keeping Keith’s number handy now. I’ll bake him something sometime, maybe, to thank him for his offer. And certainly I will take him up on his “helping hand” another time. After all, we all need a helping hand from time to time, don’t we?

For the Commission on Aging’s weekly blog, visit: http://tuolumnecountycommissiononaging.blogspot.com/ .