Situational Calm

Late yesterday afternoon I dragged my poor little broken body out for a walk. “If you don’t use it, you lose it”, that’s my motto. I think it’s best to keep moving unless it’s impossible.

I was about three blocks away when I saw a few neighbor friends in their front yard so I stopped for a chat, mainly to bore them with photos of the grandkids.

Without warning, lights and sirens from no less than eight police cars, two fire engines, and paramedics drove right by us at a high rate of speed in our residential ‘hood. I checked PulsePoint and noted that they were going to a house just a few doors down from where we were.

A medical emergency isn’t unusual, but when it’s accompanied by heavy law enforcement–well, that’s a different story.

“Let’s go see”, I said, and we did.

It turned out that the medical emergency might have been related to an overdose, which sort of explains the police.

The person was on the ground and when my friend saw who it was, he became upset because it was one of his best friends. I instructed him to immediately call the spouse who wasn’t home at the time, had no idea, and was grateful for the call.

Allegedly, the person was impaired and fell, sustaining injuries, and someone else in the home called the paramedics.

My friend didn’t seem to know how to acquire info from the police or paramedics, so I did what I do–take charge of an emergency situation, communicate with all parties, liaise, and sort out the situation.

After the injured person was worked on by paramedics, was talking and breathing OK, stabilized for transport to the hospital and the spouse knew where to go, I continued on my walk.

I contemplated the many times I’ve been either personally involved in crises or as a bystander, and how I seem to exhibit a calm demeanor that encourages others to look to me for answers, to take charge, and to coordinate all aspects of the situation.

I KNEW I did those things but I had never before realized that is something I’m pretty good at. I don’t know where I learned them. It’s just something instinctual, I guess.

Whether it’s a fire or an accident or my son’s surgery, I don’t panic. I go to a place of calm, unemotional, rational, measured assessment while others tend to become stressed and unable to function.

My son once asked me how I survived his life threatening brief illness and major surgery because I seemed so calm. He asked me if I got upset or if I cried because he saw me as strong and capable during that horrible time and I told him this: during his surgery, I went into the bathroom in the waiting room and broke down and cried only one time. Then I looked in the mirror and told myself to STOP. What I never divulged to him was the mantra I kept repeating to myself, “If I cry, he dies. If I cry, he dies.” Truthfully, without the lifesaving emergency surgery, he would not be here now with those two adorable children. I felt as if I willed him to survive. And he did. After it was all over and he was on the mend, I was able to let go of my steely resolve a bit and helped to love him back to health. Every once in a while we talk about that dark time and how his wife and I never left his side, how we both spent every day and slept next to him every night at the hospital until he was released. SIGH.

I realize now with a little self awareness that I have been able to endure unspeakable pain by being stoic. It’s not that I don’t feel the emotion and the fear and the danger, but my mind seems to go to a different place and I compartmentalize (as my therapist would say) the feelings until later. Stuff needs to get done, someone needs to take charge and be a leader or there’s chaos.

If no one else steps up, you can count on me.

P.S. I made my first Anchor podcast — not my voice though because my microphone didn’t get recognized so I’m using Remy’s voice. Here’s the link, it’s kinda freaky. https://anchor.fm/enchanted-seashells/episodes/Situational-Calm-e16np97

My Neighborhood

Yesterday started out sunny and peaceful and then we had a bit of excitement.

I was digging and digging in the front yard, trying to arrange sixteen pavers in the most perfect aesthetically pleasing design to create a stepping stone effect. I tried three times because nothing gave off the right vibe that I was searching for.

First I placed them in a straight row but that looked too cold and harsh and militant, especially as it was bordering a rocky dry river bed that had natural organic lines. The second time I mimicked that meandering shape. Nope, that looked too busy and didn’t seem right. The THIRD time I created a gently curving line like a rainbow that seems to work OK but I’m going to leave it for a day or two and see how that feels. That’s the beauty of it…I can simply dig them up and move them wherever I choose. I call it the Goldilocks effect or it’s just my OCD, either one.

Side note: Each paver weighs about twenty pounds. 16 x 20 lbs =320 lbs. No wonder my arms are sore!

While I was digging and pondering, I heard a commotion down the street. My next door neighbors heard it too so we both investigated.

We observed a stray dog walking up our street and another dog was barking at it. That’s a big deal around here because we don’t have many unaccompanied dogs in our ‘hood. Cars were stopping; everyone was asking each other if anyone knew who he belonged to.

He was a nice looking boy, well cared for, a mid-sized brown German Shepherd. He walked up to our houses, walked around, even in the garage, sniffing everything.

I gave him a bowl of water but he wasn’t really interested and continued to walk slowly and deliberately up the street. He had a collar but no tags and no one could remember seeing him before. Just as we were deciding who should collect him in their backyard, he walked away. Another neighbor came by, said she would get a leash and bring him to her home until the owner could (hopefully) be located, so we all returned to our outdoor projects.

Minutes later, a truck and SUV drove up. It was the owners and their children! They had accidentally left the garage door open and their sweet old boy had walked out.

The dad said his boy was a retired police dog, very nice, but still had the police dog training, so they REALLY needed to bring him home. I called my friend who planned to host him at her house but she said she hadn’t been able to find the fugitive but they were still searching. He seemed to have disappeared in a matter of minutes.

My neighbor and I got in my car and set off to help the search. Others in my ‘hood did the same. We all drove up and down and around and couldn’t find him. What a mystery!

Thirty minutes later, we circled back and stopped at the owners house for an update.

He told us that another neighbor had been outside bringing groceries in, their car door was open, and their dog jumped in and sat down in the car. She was still outside wondering what to do when she spied the family calling for their doggy, and he was returned to a happy and grateful family. Yay!

We went home and I continued with my day; staring at a pathway that didn’t really go anywhere.

While there’s a lot to bemoan about this hectic world we inhabit, it’s positive and uplifting when an entire neighborhood comes together to help a family find their beloved dog.

What a wonderful world!

Update: I dug up the pavers yet again to move them four inches back which seems to render the right kind of feng shui. Now I think I’m happy. We’ll see. I’ll post a pic when the project is complete.