By Pat King
I met my friend Dave when we shared a dinner table for two months last summer. I got to know him when he was in the Wesley Homes Des Moines Health Center, and I visited him in the evening. He is 84. I am 80. We sing the same songs (Home on the Range) and laugh at the same jokes (How many old people does it take to change a light bulb?).
One day I said to Dave, “Let’s go out, and work in my garden circle.”
“I’m not into gardening,” he replied.
“Oh this is easy stuff. We only have to cut down a bush,” I explained. I didn’t tell him it was a six foot rosemary bush, to be exact.
On Monday, we borrowed some clippers and got started. On Tuesday, we made real progress. On Wednesday, Dave said, “I think I’ve overdone it, but I’ll clip one more branch.” With that last branch his knees collapsed, leaving Dave stuck in the garden with his feet overhanging the cement ledge. Dave, a diabetic with no feeling in his legs or feet, couldn’t move. I reached under his shirt for his emergency button. He hadn’t worn it. “Stay there,” I ordered as if he was planning to flee. I should have run to Reception, but I was rattled. The only thing I could think to do was to get the guys in the tool shop: big guys who could help. Instead, I ran into someone in Culinary.
“Dave fell. Call Security,” I requested. I ran back to Dave. I knew he didn’t want help and would try to move.
“There are three naked girls coming to rescue you,” I fibbed. “Stay put.”
The Culinary guy returned. Michael in Security came next. They got Dave sitting on the ledge. A nurse came and checked his oxygen and pulse. The guys got him in a chair and brought him water. They stayed with him while I ran to the second floor and found a wheel chair.
“Your place or mine?” I asked Dave.
“Yours,” he said as Michael walked beside us.
“I’m sorry we bothered you,” I said. “What kind of work did we take you from?”
“This is my work. The safety of every one of you is what I do best,” said Michael.
As I write this, Dave is sleeping in my living room. I am feeling mighty grateful to the super Wesley people who came to our rescue.
Tonight, Dave and I will once again share a table in the dining room. And, hopefully, he’ll wear his emergency call pendant!