It is common knowledge in Colorado that if you don’t like the weather, wait a few seconds and the weather will change. Looking east at the beautiful sunrise, I can’t say that I wasn’t forewarned: “Red skies in the morning, sailors take warning; red skies at night, sailors delight.” The unseasonably warm and dry weather was about to change… and our fortunes with it. But to begin at the beginning…
I write from the family home in Penrose where Mark and I planned to spend the week on home repair projects. This week’s project was to replace the overhang on the north side of the house. We would take it in three stages: the first stage would see us replacing the portion over the back door.
Climbing down from the roof on Tuesday, the extension ladder skidded out, and Mark fell -landing on the ladder. He was shaken and bruised, but seemed reasonably OK. Wednesday was a recovery day. Thursday he kept a dental appointment; we had lunch; and he was back on the roof…
when… he was seized by excruciating pain that immobilized him. He couldn’t move. I called 911 and was amused when after telling the dispatcher the details of my “cat in the tree,” she asked his age. And when I said 69, she chortled and said, “You can’t tell them anything when they’re that age!”
And it was my turn to laugh because the day before I had found a highly recommended young man with roofing experience. Returning home, I told Mark that a helper was readily available, Did he listen? If you have been paying attention to the laughter, you already know the answer.
I can’t say enough for the competent and caring Florence Volunteer Fire Department. Driving a large hook and ladder, they made it down our dirt road and narrow driveway. While the EMTs climbed the extension ladder to reach Mark on the roof, the firemen extended the high-rise ladder. Morphine helped a bit, but moving Mark from the roof to the body of the firetruck and then into the ambulance was a cliff hanger.
Then it was off to St Thomas More Hospital‘s emergency room and a CAT scan which indicated a left side fracture of his ninth rib and three transverse process fractures of the lumbar vertebrae. Given a diagnosis, he was dismissed. We stopped at the drug store and then made our way home. A long day and night of pain followed until I called our family doctor at home, and she called in a muscle relaxant which has proved very effective.
And there you have the rest of the story. If I segue this experience to anything, I link it to the age of the volunteer firefighters. Typically, I am in Westcliffe, home to a large population of retirees who are keen volunteers and eager to share their expertise. (So much so, that a number of years ago Colorado College ranked Custer County first as having the greatest social capital of any county within the state.) That said, I have wondered aloud any number of times, “Where are the younger volunteers?” Typically, the answer is, “They’re working.”
Which raises my hackles. Excuse me!
I volunteered for multiple agencies while childrearing and working… as did all my friends. What has happened? Where have all the youthful volunteers gone? I think that my generation, coming of age in the early 60s… was hugely under the sway of President Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
I remember Sargent Shriver coming to college and recruiting for the Peace Corps. Wow! I wanted to do that! And dozens of us signed up to take the test. We could hardly wait to serve. (Yes, I was called to serve, and I said, “No.” But to balance the scale, I was also offered a job with the CIA, and I said, “No,” to that offer too. Forgive me. I was young.)
My point is, volunteering during the early 1990’s was a given. Not so much so any more. I was thinking that maybe the lack of young volunteers in Custer County was partially a demographic, but looking at the “mature” age of the Fremont County volunteer firemen, maybe the lack of younger volunteers is endemic.
At one point, graduation from Florence High School included a public service component. I think that this is an excellent idea. Is it too much to hope that public service would be promoted in all school districts? Who knows when the next 69-year-old guy is going to be trapped on a roof or up a tree. We need younger volunteers!
Ending on a weather note… this morning (devoid of a red sky) I saw three, separate flocks of geese lifting off from Brush Hollow Reservoir. Taking to the air, honking and fighting for supremacy, they flew north… no, south… like schooling fish they swirled… deciding on leadership and direction. It was beautiful! No one seemed to hold the Trump card.