We’ve got a few rules about telecommunications in our family; we are not people who just randomly call each other to chit-chat. During the offseason, when the motel is closed and I (sniff, sniff) don’t go home as much, my mother and I have a Sunday night phone call routine. One Sunday night she calls me and the next Sunday night I call her. We keep a list of things we want to tell each other so we’ll be efficient about our time on the horn.

Generally, my mother doesn’t call me at work unless it’s an emergency.

When she called me yesterday, I panicked.

“Hi Mom, is everything ok?”

“Uncle Bob was in the woods by himself and a tree fell on him.”

Any thoughts that were moving around in my head slowed down to a full stop. Uncle Bob got hit by a tree?

“Was he wearing a hard hat?” I asked?

“No, and your father has told him time and time again to wear one.”

Uncle Bob and Herman the German used to cut wood together every summer and fall. They both heat their cold New England homes with wood from The Farm. In the last few years, my father has slowed down a bit and sometimes, Uncle Bob cuts wood alone. Accidents can happen and it probably doesn’t matter that Herman the German wasn’t with him. In 1979, my father cut his leg with a chainsaw; Uncle Bob was right there.

As the story goes, after Uncle Bob was felled by the tree, he got on his tractor and drove up the road. He parked his tractor, a little woozy because he’d lost some blood. One of our family friends happened to be next door and she took Uncle Bob to the doctor’s. The doctor decided Uncle Bob needed to go to the hospital; the ambulance was called. There was a lot of excitement.

Uncle Bob got some stitches and the doctor said he should not cut wood for a week.

Luckily, he didn’t have a concussion.

I’m sure there’s more to the story and I plan to get to the bottom of it. For right now, Uncle Bob has been restricted to mowing the lawn.

It’s hard hearing about these things from a distance; it’s also hard seeing the people I love getting older. I’m getting older too. I can’t control it even though I try. Sadly, none of us can control much of anything.

Uncle Bob, wear your damn hard hat.

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