Gratitude · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

The “Wrecks” Story (or) How I Met My Vet

A long, long time ago, TDW-Mark I, our children, our dog and I lived basically right down the block from where I type this today. This particular tale is about the dog. The children had been allowed to name him, thinking that we would spell the name the way that they would, as “R-E-X”. However, TDW-Mark I was possessed of a considerable sense of humor (at one time…) (after all, had she not been married to me for nigh onto 20 years?). SHE determined the spelling, “W-R-E-C-K-S”. This was due to the fact that he resided in a household with adolescent males, who were, themselves, high spirited. Therefore the dog was, himself, well, energetic is a kind way of phrasing it.

So, TINS, one morning we awakened, let the dog out on his chain, and settled in for breakfast. After several hours, we noticed that the dog had not barked to be let back in, his usual practice once he had had enough of The Great Outdoors. We looked to see what was up, discovering that the chain had broken, and the dog was not in evidence.

We searched the neighborhood, finding no trace of the dog. We produced “lost dog” flyers, and mounted them at intervals about our corner of our small town. That produced no results.

After a day or two, TDW-Mark I sent me to the local police department, The County Seat Police Department, and I learned that one of their officers had encountered a dog resembling our missing Wrecks, who had been struck by an automobile, and had been transported to a local vet.

I traveled to the vet’s office, and asked after our dog.

This vet confirmed that he did, indeed, have my dog, and that the dog was surprisingly uninjured after his encounter with the car the previous evening. This was determined after x-rays and examination. I asked him how much I owed him for his care. “Nothing. You don’t owe me anything.”

I persisted. “You spent no small amount of your time, and your expertise, on a dog that you had no idea if he would ever be claimed. I get that you do so out of the goodness of your heart, and as a service to the community. On the other hand, I can pay for the care you lavished on my dog. Indeed, if you insist on thinking of it this way, you can imagine that I am paying for the other critter, that goes unclaimed, such that you are not required to pay out of your pocket, for performing a public service, simply because you can do so, and it needs doing.”

I took a deep breath. “It offends me to think that you are going to be leeched off of by some schlub. I am not going to be that schlub. If for no other reason, please take my money because you ought no be penalized simply because you are a nice guy.”

He told me, “Thank you, but, really, you do not owe me anything. Thanks for the thought, but, we are good!”

I smiled and replied, “So, in that case, here is a check for $150. The next time somebody’s dog gets injured, and they cannot pay you for their care, let me help defray the expense you incur.”

And, he has been my family’s vet ever since, going onto 25 years.

Duty · Gratitude · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important!

GRATITUDE

My mother died last month. She had passed her 100th birthday, and was living in the house she had occupied for something like 40 years. The immediate trigger to her death was liver failure, occasioned, most likely, by an adverse interaction between anesthetics and a century old liver. She had fallen, a couple of days prior, and fractured her hip. The surgery, fortunately, was for this sort of thing, uncomplicated, and she evidently tolerated the surgery side of the affair pretty well.

That is to set up the following deliberation. Gratitude. My mother was able to spend her last months in her house, because my youngest brother pretty much dropped everything, and moved in with her. The woman who has been his family’s housekeeper for something like a generation (from well before The Plaintiff became The Plaintiff, in fact!), also dropped her comfortable daily routine, and became my mother’s de facto practical nurse. Wordy as I am, I am unable to adequately describe my gratitude to my brother, and (let us call er…) Angelica. I thanked them both, even though my brother sloughed it off, “You would have done the same, if you had been able. Hell, you *did* do the same, for Dad.” Angelica simply smiled, sniffled a bit, and turned away.

Mom was able to live pretty independently in the two years prior to that, due to my middle brother, and his wife, let us call her “Donna”. Due to Donna’s efforts, in particular, Mom was able to live in her own apartment, have her dog with her, and, generally, run her own life. Donna made certain Mom got to her doctor appointments, got and took her medications, had her clothing laundered, had food in her frig, and that the dog got walked. All this on top of running her, Donna’s, own household, and helping her husband, my brother, run his business. Thank you.

Prior to that, well, there are, and were, neighbors who looked in on Mom. Then, there is The Car Service Guy. https://wordpress.com/post/musingsofastretcherape.wordpress.com/431 During one power failure (different from The Car Service Guy story), her neighbors physically took her in, where she stayed at their house, warm due to their generator, eating their hot food, and remained until the power was restored. Without these folks, not a one of whom was any sort of kin to my mother, she could not have lived in the house that she loved, for as long as she did, as nearly independently as she did. Thank you. God Bless you.

Police officers in her town, on a couple of occasions, looked in on her at my, and my brother’s request, and reported back that she had been fine. Thank you.

Several of my youngest brother’s friends, living “only” one state over, would drop in on her a couple of times a year, helping make sure that she was getting on alright, and providing an “eyes on” report to my brother. Thank you, as well.

I have to say, the shriveled vestigial organ where my heart may have once resided, is warmed by the good example of these folks. Not for them the bullshit “You voted for Trump! Demon!, or “You voted for Biden! Traitor!”, pejoratives that seem to pass for political discourse. Simply, good people, watching for their neighbors, and living the admonition, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Good people, good examples. Thank you.

Duty · Gratitude · Protect and Serve

Duty.

Occasionally, I am humbled. Sometimes, I am moved to tears.

So, TINS©, I was lolling around the house on Christmas Day. TDW-Mark II and I were casually surfing the web. I had my handheld amateur radio on, monitoring our county’s fire dispatch. Because, well, I can.

In our county, emergency personnel are generally volunteers. The EMS is paid/full time, Sheriff and local PD are paid/full time, but the firefighters and rescue are volunteers, dispatched by pager. The tones dropped for a cardiac arrest, CPR in progress, in the outskirts of the county. Now my county is rural, primarily (by surface area) farmland. The ambulance was called out, as well as the County Seat Fire Department (Hereinafter, CSFD).

I heard EMS acknowledge, and the duty fire chief as well. He (the chief) directed that the firefighters respond without him, as he was a couple of miles from the scene and would respond directly.

Dispatch then filled in the dispatch information, beyond the address. A 70-something male had collapsed. CPR was in progress. He was vomiting, and the family was clearing his mouth as best they could. A couple of minutes later (likely that seemed like days, to the folks on the scene, performing CPR on one of their family!), the fire chief called out on the scene “Chief on scene with one firefighter. Sheriff on scene. Dispatch, roll one engine for manpower.”

So, let’s “dolly back”, and consider this. With the possible exception of the deputy (who might have responded, off duty, from home in his patrol car), all these folks were snug in their own homes, fat, dumb and happy, savoring the anniversary of The Birth of Our Saviour, as well as immersing themselves in the excitement of the children at All! The! Presents! they had received.

They carry pagers because, well, that’s what they do. More likely than not, they do not see themselves as heroic, or making sacrifices, because, after all, in most of America (hell, I suspect in most of the world), the men and women performing these jobs simply see themselves as doing what needs to be done, because they are able to do so.

And therefore, when the pager alerted them, they grabbed their coats, put on their boots, and left their warm and happy homes, heading to somebody else’s home, someplace where, as Chief Dennis Compton of Mesa, AZ Fire once described it, “We are responding to somebody’s worst day of their life”.

So, as I imagine it, the duty chief was enjoying a Christmas with his family, the tones dropped, and off he went. Before he could get out of the door, one of his sons, or maybe a son in law, (or daughter or daughter in law, here in the 21st century) said something like, “Hey, Dad! Hold up a second! I’m taking that call with you!”

These folks voluntarily immersed themselves in another family’s tragedy. Strove to hold the line, to reverse the evident course. Went to work on Christmas.

When the firefighter came on the radio requesting the sheriff department’s (volunteer!) Victim Support Team, I could call that play. I do not know if I teared up at the family’s terror, at their loss, at the fact that forever more Christmas would not hold happy childhood memories, but, rather, would be “the day grandpa died”, or if I teared up thinking of the folks who, simply “doing their jobs”, had left their warm homes in response to some stranger’s plea for help.

But, I wept.

Please, give a thought to those who respond to those calls, today and every day of the year, all over the world.

And offer a prayer on behalf of those they go to rescue.

Gratitude

Thanksgiving

This is, fundamentally, a repost of a blog entry from 13 Dec 2019.

Several years ago, TDW-Mark 2, Second Son Charlie, and his wife and I were out to dinner one night. Charlie had asked me how work was going, and I fell into my reflexive recitation of complaints about my employer. Yada, yada, yada, bitch, moan, and complain.

After a couple of minutes, I stopped to take a breath. Charlie looked at me, contemplatively, and asked me, “Dad? Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure. Lay it on me!”

“Do you suppose that, say, Cuban refugees, having entrusted their families, and their own, lives to rafts made, oh, out of a pickup truck and old water bottles, stagger onto the Florida shore, join hands, and ask each other, ‘Doesn’t McFee’s life really suck?’”

I considered my son’s question. “Really, I doubt that they spend an entire second on that concern.”

He smiled upon me, as if a Jedi Master upon a Paduan. “Yep, Dad. First World problems!”

Today’s deliberation is that, while there are, indeed, problems galore in America, please let us all consider the fact that, in most of the rest of the world, those things that we consider “problems”, are counted as blessings. It is like a real world experience of Bill Cosby’s bit about growing up poor in Philadelphia,

“Man, I got to share a bed with my brother! It is awful!”

“Man, YOU have a bed?”

“And, I get hand-me-down shoes, also! The worst!”

“Say what? YOU have SHOES?!?”

Etcetera. Sort of a reverse “The Dozens”.

May all of you have a pleasant, peaceful, tranquil, thankful, Thanksgiving Day.

Duty · Gratitude · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

Maternal Update

Several folks commented, asking how my mother was doing, or wishing her, and my family, well.

Thank you, all. TDW-Mark II and I were both touched by your kindness.

Presently, she is chirpily ensconced in The Maternal State, with my brother, The Accountant. We have chatted, several times (Mom and I), and she is happier where she considers herself to be “home”, than back here in The Un-Named Fly-over State.

She has had her first radiation therapy treatment, and I await an update from my brother/mother.

And, once The Brother Who Is An Accountant has had His Way with several of God’s Children, who are NOT exemplars of “The Healing Arts”, well, THAT will be the topic of a blog post of it’s own.

A very DARK post.

In the meantime, I will attempt to figure out how to give major props to physicians, in the no shit highest traditions of Medicine, who have genuinely Taken Care of Business, to my mother’s benefit, and see if I can do so without blowing op sec.

I will simply say, they are cut from the same bolt of cloth, as the car service guy, who with no drama, no fanfare, simply do their christian best to do the right thing. (see my post of 6-28-19)

Duty · Gratitude · Protect and Serve

An Additional Thought on 9/11

Sometimes, in my web wanderings, I come across a page, a video, that reflects that the author GETS IT.

This fellow, whose page, The History Guy, often reflects occasions of valor, of courage, of dedication to duty, gives me every indication that he, himself GETS IT.

Today, 13 September, he reprised an episode from 11 September 2019, with a new introduction. I guess my allergies were acting up, because I wept.

He devoted something like two full minutes scrolling the name of every FDNY member who died doing their duty, that clear, sunny September day.

Say their names. Know their sacrifice. Honor their memories.

Gratitude · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

Happy Anniversary To Me!

It was long ago, and far away, this 27 July 2017, when I first took keyboard in hand to begin to record these semi random blatherings, tales of my mis-spent youth.

Several folks have been kind enough to comment, suggesting that they have been kind enough to actually read my Tales Of The Dark Side. Others have actually **followed** my blog.

Thank you, one and all. While I had originally thought to immortalize these things fro my children, thinking that I had mis-remembered or entirely forgotten several of my own father’s stories, I am pleased that folks have found this blog, and appeared to enjoy the stories enough to read them, and, in some cases, come back for more.

WordPress reports that I have had over 11,000 views, and nearly 3600 visitors in 2020, from ten countries.

Thank you.

Fun And Games Off Duty · Gratitude · Life in Da City! · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

Splinting a Cat, And the Lesson I Learned….(Not What I Had Expected!)

A long, long time ago, in a Blue Hive not so very far from here, I was a street medic for Da City. (Gasp, NO! Say it isn’t so! I…I..never suspected!) I was working nights, attending nursing school days, and attempting ti triage my weekends between school projects, studying, sleep, and having a social life. Oh, yes. AND working.

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, and, having concluded a rollicking night of same, I entered my apartment. The building in which I lived had been built circa 1910, and had seen sporadic maintenance since then. This is particularly relevant given that I observed my cat, imaginatively named Mr. Cat, seated at my front window.

It was summer, and I had left my windows cracked. My cats had taken to lounging in the window, both to take in the scenery as well as to bask in an intermittent breeze. This was OK, until in one particular window, in which Mr. Cat had been loafing, the sash cord, which held the window open, failed, sending the window crashing closed.

Mr. Car’s “catlike reflexes” were sufficient to enable him to avoid being entirely trapped by the weight of the closed window, but he wasn’t quick enough to entirely extricate himself. His one front paw was held as if in a bear trap, and he greeted me with a look as if to say, “I say, old man, could you assist me? I appear to be stuck, and it is becoming tiresome.”

The cat-length semicircle of destruction spoke to his efforts to resolve his problem on his own.

I opened the window, and he promptly removed it, and began to clean his paw, as if dust were the only problem. When I observed that he did not appear to want to walk on it, I corralled him, sat down, and began my secondary survey.

I could not palpate any discontinuity in his bones in the affected paw, but he was very reluctant to have me confirm that appraisal with a repeat examination. His breath sounds were clear, and his heart sounds were rapid, but regular with no murmur. (Of course, how much “rapid” was kitty baseline, versus pain versus irritated cat, was difficult to discern.)

He continued to limp, and so I gathered up materiel, and set to fabricating The McFee Cat Splint. I cut out cardboard from a box, wrapped it about the injured limb, and secured it (or so I had thought) with roller gauze.

He, unimpressed, shook his injured limb until the splint went that-away, and he went this-away, and he limped off. Sigh.

I re-corralled him, and we wrestled him into The McFee Cat Splint Mark II. This version featured several wraps about his torso, so as to slow the shake-this-thing-into-next-week response that he demonstrated once I had released him. Good news? It did not head off into a far corner. Bad news? Well, howzabout YOU attempt to explain the concept of “no weight bearing” to a cat, and let me know how well that works?

Sigh.

So, we collaborated (for certain values of “collaborated”, particularly if those include one handedly immobilizing a non-compliant cat, placing a New! Improved! McFee Cat Splint Mark III upon said cat, and then, again, single handedly, securing same upon the same non-compliant cat) in splinting his foreleg, again. This version extended beyond his paw, so that, crutch like, the weight that he would usually place upon this paw was transferred to his chest wall/”armpit”.

Kinda like rodeo, without the clowns. Unless you included me, that is.

I began to put my crap away for the morning, but he persisted in not bearing weight upon the formerly trapped paw, and I soon determined that it was time for an assessment by someone who knew their way around a cat. Against Mr. Cat’s protestations, off we went to the veterinarian.

I had not, in all the excitement, changed out of my EMS uniform that morning. So, there I was, once I had registered Mr. Cat, and requested a “walk in” visit (“Be patient, no telling when a slot will open up.”), seated in one of the chairs, cat in lap, uniformed, sleepy (although, that was kind of my ground state in those days), next to a grandmotherly Black woman at the vet.

She asked me what had happened to my cat, noticing the splint he still wore, and (score!) pretty much as I had designed it. I told her the tale, truncated a bit for the waiting room retelling, and she made sympathetic noises. We conversed a bit about pets, and how they fare in our absences, and so forth, passing the time.

Her name was called, and she looked at me, and at the vet tech summoning her, and then she performed a no shit act of Christian charity. She said, “His kitty has been injured, please take him before me, I can wait a bit longer”.

If you have read more than a couple of my posts, you likely realize that I am generally a cynical bastard, a curmudgeon. I commonly have low expectations of people, and they commonly fail to meet them. This tale took place something on the order of forty years ago, and, retelling it now, I am tearing up. This woman, who I had never met, showed herself to be more giving, more compassionate, than I was. She showed me that individuals can be beacons of community, of respect, of sympathy, for folks that do not look like them. She took pity on a white guy, and his cat, because she could.

Because she was capable of empathizing with another, not of her “tribe”. And, being capable, did so.

My cat recovered from what the doctor determined to be a sprain, and lived a long and (cat) happy life.

I moved out of Da City, married, got divorced, remarried, watched my children grow, and have families of their own.

And, today, I offered a prayer on behalf of that woman, my neighbor-in-fact, who bathed me in her compassion, and for whom, today, I cried.

Ma’am, thank you for that lesson.

Gratitude

WuFlu outcomes: a coupla thoughts

As I loll away my days of enforced indolence, I contemplate things. Of course, the WuFlu/Wuhan Coronavirus/Novel Coronavirys/C.O.V.I.D. (Wait! Wasn’t that the name of a Bond villain?) is on my mind. It’s easy to see over reach, as well as dilatory responses. All of which illustrates the fact that governors and mayors have a sort of “stool smorgasbord” of options, wherein every choice that they make, every action that they will take, will be wrong. If they lock the state down hard, people will die of depression, untreated addiction, consequences of delayed diagnosis, treatment and management of illnesses ranging from cardiac disease to cancer. If they leave things open, settling for public service announcements of individual mitigation measures we each and all can take, people will contract the illness, presumably in greater numbers than they might in other circumstances, and some of them will require hospitalization, and some of them will die.

So, the negatives are easy to see, and folks are out there who will cheerfully bring you up to speed in the event that you do not wallow in sufficient negativity.

I’d like to illuminate a potential upside to this pandemic scare. I have seen, here and there, genuine gratitude. Folks being thankful for truckers, who deliver EVERYTHING that we take as if granted to us.

Folks being appreciative of physicians, nurses, and everybody else who keeps any and every hospital operating.

People performing small, and heartfelt, acts to help protect others (I’m looking at YOU, all you home mask crafters. As well as y’all shopping, so elderly/vulnerable neighbors don’t have to go out.) And very one of these acts touches the vestigial organ where my heart used to be.

Folks being grateful for the efforts of grocery clerks.

Dare I hope that we learn to appreciate everyday small blessings, out of these changes?