A helping hand in the middle of the storm


Last week, the night thunder, lightning and torrential rain scared Bob, me, the two dogs and three cats to death, the electricity suddenly went out to most of our home.

We don’t have a basement. We have a storm cellar. You know, the kind Dorothy was in when a tornado hit Kansas. Our fuse box is in the storm cellar.

With my spinal cord injury, I can’t go down those steep steps. With Bob’s dementia, which you may already know, he no longer understands how to use a fuse box.

Eversource couldn’t help.

Luckily, on our refrigerator, I have the 24/7 non-emergency phone number for our local police: 508 775-0387. They were great and said to call the fire department whose 24/7 non-emergency phone number for the Centerville-Osterville-Marstons Mills District (COMM) is: 508 790-2375.

Within minutes, Lt. Matthew Malone and Firefighter/Paramedic Steven Coombs were at my doorstep.

I was my usual crazy self: “Electricity! Cellar! Dorothy! They walked out into the pouring rain to the storm cellar, found the circuit breaker tripped and the viola we had on. I was delighted.

It was just Matt and Steve’s first trip.

“Bob,” I said after they left, “I smell something burning! »

I traced the burning smell back to the bedroom, where thick white smoke billowed from a power strip with a trillion wires plugged into it. The electricity went out again.

Saralee Perel

Matt and Steve were back in an instant; this time they were in the disaster I call our room.

Here’s the thing. I wasn’t on a cleaning project that resulted in nearly ALL of my clothes piled on the floor. I wasn’t going through those stacks of 5 year old papers. I didn’t deliberately scatter 14 coffee mugs, a bunch of forks, 2018 magazines, and broken computer parts everywhere. Pitifully, that’s how I make the house.

It’s getting worse.

Steve bent through a pile of tangled wires and picked up the mother of all dustballs. Needing both hands, this Olympic-sized mound of dust was bigger than a rulebook – in fact, an enormous, giant-sized basketball.

“That stuff probably got into the power strip,” he said.

The room looked like it had been hit by Dorothy’s tornado. Not just clothes, but jungles of dust, newspapers, books, paper plates, and empty soda cans made even our massive king-size bed hard to find.

I was mortified.

They found other power strips that were dangerously overloaded and covered in years of grime.

None of them lectured me. Instead, they kindly explained the dangers of letting such a buildup build up as well as the dangers of so many outlets in a single circuit. No one spoke to me. They were my teachers and through their tutelage I learned my lessons.

Just then, Bob (remember, he has dementia and can’t think straight) suddenly became perfectly mentally intact: “Don’t write about it in the Cape Cod Times, Saralee. You don’t want everyone to know the real you.

“Forget it, Bob. (Which is kind of a redundant thing to say to someone with dementia.)

“Everyone already knows the real me.”

Apparently, I’ve now come out of the closet – with God knows how many unparalleled one-of-a-kind shoes that haven’t had their housemates with them in over a decade.

To the men, I said, “I write a monthly column in a newspaper. May I have your permission to include your names in the November column? »

“Of course. If the fire chief approves first.

One day you will have to have a conversation with fire chief Michael Winn. You will never meet someone as dedicated, lively and helpful as Mike. He is particularly proud of his program – the Senior Safe Program – which he hoped I would mention. He said anyone who wants to know more can call: 508 790-2375 Ext. #1. I will tell you; I doubt I will ever meet anyone as passionate as Mike about helping his community, other than Matt and Steve of course.

Before my firefighters left that stormy night, I said, overwhelmed with emotional gratitude, “You made a difference in someone’s life today.”

“We are just doing our job.”

“No. It’s more than just doing your job. It’s who you are. It’s what you believe in. It’s the path you’ve chosen.

None of this is in a job description.

I wanted to hug them so badly, but I was too shy.

The firefighters really, really care about us. They care about the communities they so selflessly serve. Talk about dedication. Talk about courage.

I asked Fire Chief Winn, “Why did you decide to become a firefighter?”

“I decided to become a firefighter because at a very young and impressionable age, I was introduced to the fire service by my father. I got involved and wanted to be a firefighter so I could help people in times of need, and so I could contribute and help make my community better and safer.

And so, this column is dedicated to all firefighters, but especially Lt. Matthew Malone, Firefighter/Paramedic Steven Coombs, Fire Chief Michael Winn. These people live to protect us. By exposing my reckless fire hazards, they saved my house from igniting.

One day they might save yours.

I know it’s a cliché, but when you see military personnel, whether it’s firefighters, police, military, or medical personnel, would you please say, “Thank you for your service. I promise it would mean a lot to them.

And even more for you.

Award-winning columnist Saralee Perel lives in Marstons Mills. She can be reached at: [email protected] or through Facebook. His column is broadcast on the first Friday of each month.

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