The Red Sled                   By Lori La Bey

Picture this:  Your parents have moved up north to the lake for retirement.  They were the typical Snowbirds, winters in Florida, but not this year.  Illness kept them from traveling.  Dad had Brain Cancer and my Mother early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. 

They were both in great shape, things just moved a bit slower.  Dad was still able to drive and had no major problems after his surgery and treatment other than the normal tiredness and hair loss.  Mom and Dad functioned very well and none of us kids were nervous having them two hours away.  We kept in close contact and everything seemed fine.  That is until one August afternoon at my home. 

We were having a birthday party for my Father.  It was a beautiful sunny day on the patio.  The grill was going, and the wafting smell of BBQ filled the air.   Conversation was flowing and the love of family was as strong and solid like the concrete we sat on.

Than the conversation turned, taking us all by surprise.  My Father was known for his great stories and wonderful jokes.  Today Dad tried to cover his tracks after Mom made an innocent statement.  It went like this:

Mom mentioned she had fallen outside when they were up north this winter.  An incident never mention in my at least daily conversations with my parents.  “Interesting,” I thought.  I can’t wait to here this one.  “HUMMMMM,” I thought and I listened.

My Dad jumped right in to explain.  “Oh Mom and I were just going to make a run to the store and she slipped, on a patch of ice between the house and the garage.  It was no big deal.  She was not hurt.  I tried to help her up but I’m not strong enough any more.  I knew I couldn’t go inside to call anyone for help.  All the neighbors left for the winter, and if I left Mom alone, I knew she would get nervous if she could not see me.  You know how time gets so confusing to her and I did not want her to have a panic attack when I was in the house calling for help.  So I went to the garage.  I got some salt and sand, and sprinkled it around her, thinking it might help her position herself to get up.  Of course my reaction was a bit different then Dad’s.  My mind is screaming, “LIKE SHE’S A TIRE?  WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON HERE?” She really found a big icy patch were she fell!  That did not work, so I went back into the garage and grabbed the red sled.  I rolled Mom onto it and pulled her back up to the house and between the two of us we managed to get her up by holding onto the railing.  Than, we decided to go inside and stay put for the day.  We were both pretty cold by than and thought hot chocolate sounded good!”


My mind drew a picture of my parents, both fallen on the ice, frozen to death on the end of the peninsula as the wind whipped them and the snow covered them.  Things had to change for winter living arrangements.  That was a vision I could not whip from my mind.  Neither could my brothers.  Things were going to need to change.  This was not a situation that was acceptable to us kids.  It was time to regroup once again.


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