Bill is 94 years old and a retired farmer. His wife, who was apparently the belle of the county with prize winning jams, afghans and jewelry at the fairs, passed away a few years ago. But Bill still lives in their home out on the farm. He rents his farmland out to another man who farms it for him, but he still lives independently and maintains his two acres around his home including an extensive garden.
The first time I met Bill, I arrived at his house to be introduced by his present care-giver. She let me in the door, showed me around the home, pointed out where the cleaning supplies were and then we started looking for him. She called through out the house, but he was no where to be found. This, she explained, was actually very normal. Even though Bill wears a back brace, he is quite mobile between his cane and his golf cart. So we started outside. We finally found him, using a pitch fork for support and also using it to stoke a small brush fire, with a large cigar hanging out of his mouth. This was Bill.
Bill's home is a sort of sprawling frame and stucco home, one of those you'd expect to see out on an old farm. It started off small and then was added on bit by bit as his family grew. This is actually the home he was raised in. His father owned this farm before him. At 94 years old, with a busted back, he still insists on working in his own yard, which he takes great pride in. He admits the limitations of his body, but he still does everything he can. He rides the riding lawnmower, but needs someone else to do the weed-eating.
When we were introduced, we both got in his golf cart and he showed me around the place. He showed me the brush piles he had built up of fallen limbs that needed to be hauled to the brush pile. He showed me the weed-eating that needed to be done. He looked at me strait on and asked if I actually had any experience running a weed-eater. To my readers who know me, or really know my parents, you know how absurd this question is. To be fair though, my 5 foot 2 inches and 125 pound frame hardly present a physically impressive presence or impression of strength. But I just smiled and assured him that I did in fact know how to operate a weed-eater. He nodded skeptically, but then went on to say I just needed to be careful around the trees and large yucca plants and flowers because of the damage a weed-eater could do. I just agreed with him. After showing me around we worked out a day and time when I would come back and work with him, what we would be doing. Upon parting he said we would give this a try and see how it worked out, still obviously skeptical of my ability to work, much less do the kind of outdoor work my employers told him I could do. But we parted ways and I returned 2 days later, my own gloves and hat in hand.
When I arrived at 9 am, he was having coffee with a neighbor, but we immediately set out to work. The goal for the day was to pick up all the stacks of fallen limbs, load them into the back of his truck and haul them to the brush pile a mile away at the back of his property. Bill is really big on doing work right and doing work slow. The last thing he wants is for someone to rush through work, he'd rather it take all day or multiple days and be done right. So we began to work. I set into a consistent pace of loading the limbs, while he sat in the truck smoking his cigar. Pile by pile we made progress all down the length of his yard until the truck bed was full. He drove us out to the brush pile, explained that he wanted the brush thrown up onto the middle of the pile as opposed to just dumping it on the ground, backed up to the pile and I began to work. When I finished, he commented that I finished that pretty quick, but since the work was done to his liking, he had nothing to complain about. We drove back and continued on with this work. There were several loads worth of limbs, so through out the morning we repeated this process a few times.
At 94 years old, Bill actually doesn't have to take very much medicine, but one of the medicines he does have to take is a diarrhetic, so he has to use the bathroom often. We had the truck in his yard and I was loading limbs when the call of nature came upon him. His golf car was parked across the dive way and he started making his way in that direction. When he was about 20 feet from me, I looked over my shoulder and saw his cane get stuck on a rock while he was trying to walk forward. The result was his cane stayed in place while his forward momentum just kept moving him forward. And he went down. I dropped the limbs in my arm and ran to him. Miraculously, nothing seemed to be broken. His nose was bleeding from a cut on the bridge of it from his glasses and he had a few scrapes on his face, but other than that he seemed to be alright. After a quick assessment, I ran to retrieve his golf cart and pulled up right along side him. Together we got him turned around facing the passenger side of the cart with his feet in that direction. I got behind him, squatted down, hooked both of my arms under him and (with my back strait) lifted him right up so he could catch hold of the frame of the golf cart. At this point, I think his amazement at my ability to lift him won over the pain he was feeling. He just kept saying "you're a good girl, good girl" which made me laugh to myself.
I drove him to the house, but despite the blood and drips and scrapes, we still had the initial problem to deal with. He still needed to go to the bathroom!! I got him to the bathroom and then I went in search of the first aid kit. When he came out of the bathroom, I noticed a big red spot on the knee of his pants and asked if he had cut his knee too. He looked down and then looked at me and responded "well, I guess I did!" I sat him down in a big recliner and started methodically cleaning up his cuts and scrapes with alcohol and neosporin.....
This story goes on and certainly get's funnier, but I will leave you here at this stopping point and will continue on tomorrow. Stay tuned for the next adventures of Bill and Scarlett!!