That Hannah might die never entered my mind. That said, people could die from such a fall if they, as she did, slide uncontrollably down a nearly vertical wall of sharp rock and dirt towards the waiting San Ysidro Creek 40’ below. At that moment of her fall, I was comforted in four ways: first, that she looked safe on the perch below; second, it didn’t appear she had hit her head; third, that we had Molly and Tip for support; and fourth, I had no idea how bad her injuries were.
I guess one is never ready for sudden death. I can’t imagine what it was like for our friend Amelia, when her husband and my college roommate, Big Steve, died in his sleep as a seemingly healthy man just turning 60. The deaths of my parents in their 90s were not unexpected, indeed a blessing after rich lives. I had no idea that I might be a widower when I woke up that morning in late February, 2017.
I know tomorrow is not promised to anyone, but the events on that Montecito mountainside gave new meaning to that cliche. I am very glad that the curtain didn’t come down on Hannah’s life story that day. But as I think about it, in time, I would have been very grateful for my many years with Hannah. Hannah was always the one!
On a lighter note, Hannah’s sunny disposition has served her well for 69 years. Despite deep wounds in her leg, she smiled and limp-walked steadily for a mile and a half out of the woods. Her confidence and perseverance gave me confidence.
This is a great country for seniors like us with health insurance. Hannah’s bill from Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital was $4200. The ER was $2755, IV Therapy $1010, Drugs $152, Pharmacy $140, Medical Surgical Supplies $103, and Clinical Lab costs $37. Since we have Medicare coverage, we ended up paying a mere $75!! It’s not a stretch to think all Americans deserve such coverage!
I’m stunned how quickly she is recovering. Get this, the very next day after the accident, she was slow-walking a half mile, within two days she was hitting the pavement for a mile, three times per day. Within three weeks, she was working out at our local gym on the treadmill, elliptical, and Wave (roller blading motion). Within a month she was back playing pickleball as if she had never been gone. Her recovery is a testament to her lifetime commitment to fitness.
I buy the wisdom of The Dalai Lama’s Cat and The Art of Purring by David Michie. I wish that all of my students could ‘nearly’ die. There is no better wake-up call on how to live… Life is finite; every day is precious. And simply to wake up in good health is truly a blessing, because sickness and death [and falls off the trail] can strike at a moment’s notice.
Our daughter Molly married very well. Tip is the kind of husband, father, and son-in-law we are thrilled to have. That said, Tip hit the jackpot with Molly.
Life is not an exam. Life is for learning and healing. We are learning and she is healing. Hannah and I will be hiking the waterfall trails of northern Georgia and playing pickleball with our Yonah Mountain family in late April.
With my one degree of separation, I got quite the reminder that every day is precious and there is no time to waste.
It is when we are confronted with…poignant reminders of mortality that we become most aware of the strangeness and wonder of our brief life on Earth. Kathleen Basford
Nearly a month after my fall on the San Ysidro Trail in Montecito, California, I feel more tuned in to life than perhaps ever. My perspective has once again been “re-set,” as challenging times have a way of doing. I never did feel fear or pain – thanks, I believe, to my body going into “protective mode” to sustain me til medical attention was available. Also thanks (especially) to Tip, our son-in-law, who provided his calm reassurance that We’ll get you back on the trail, Omi. Mostly I feel grateful – that it wasn’t Max or Owen or Molly or Tip who fell. And grateful that I didn’t fall any further, hit my head, or break any bones.
I believe I experienced what David Michie in The Dalai Lama’s Cat and The Art of Purring calls a “realization…”
A realization is when our understanding of something deepens to the point that it changes our behavior. I wish that all of my students could ‘nearly’ die. There is no better wake-up call on how to live. A realization helps us to let go a little, to experience deep appreciation, even awe – just to be alive. …time is precious and we must use it wisely.
I am grateful just to be alive and oh-so-grateful to those miracle workers and magic weavers (below) who, truly, brought me Home.
Molly, Owen, and Max
Zach and Dominique of AMR
Tony Anagnostou, MD
ER personnel at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital
Corky Thomson & Jane May of York Hospital
Elizabeth Helmer, MD & Alicia, RN – both of York Hospital
Eleven things my San Ysidro Falls fall taught me…
It’s all about the people.
Life just gets better.
We do not know what is in store tomorrow – or whether there is a tomorrow or even a tonight! But still, we have the golden present.
Our physical bodies are beyond magnificent.
I have so much to be grateful for.
How much I adore our grand boys.
How equally much I adore our children – and their father.
That I would give my life –in a heart beat – for any one of them.
What a rich, full life I’ve already had.
That I agree with Albert Schweitzer once again: If there is anything I have learned about men and women, it is that there is a deeper spirit of altruism than is ever evident. Just as the rivers we see are minor compared to the underground streams, so, too, the idealism that is visible is minor compared to what people carry in their hearts unreleased or scarcely released.
How proud I am to be our son in-law’s mother-in-law.
April 2017 Hannah B. Rothermel (aka Omi)