Who lives without folly is not so wise as he thinks.
— Duc de La Rochefoucauld
Because we had everyone together last week, someone thought it would be a good idea to go over to my mother-in-law’s old house and clean things up. A holiday yard sale and future home sale are looming as she enjoys her new place in a retirement community. (She even got a cat.)
I had eaten their turkey and pumpkin pie, so I figured I should go along and give the appearance of helpfulness while staying out of the way.
Mostly I did the latter, as men larger than me yelled from backrooms and jostled in hallways they’d moved through with ease 50 years before.
Maybe that casual familiarity is what caused the accident.
My brother-in-law, a retired policeman of sturdy frame, was walking through the front doorway that he has walked through perhaps 10,000 times when he cut his exposed forearm on some piece of sharp metal. We never did figure out what. Perhaps a screw or a worn frame corner.
But anyway, his arm began to bleed. It wasn’t a deep wound, just a persistent one.
He daubed it with paper towels and tried direct pressure, but it kept bleeding. Not painful, but messy.
Then he said it. “I wish I had some tape …”
It was as if I finally woke up to the situation. I remembered something.
“I’ve got a first aid kit in my trunk,” I said with sudden conviction. “Let me get it.”
Friends will tell you that I am prepared as any old Boy Scout, and first aid, while not my first calling, is part of my secondary skill-set.
I strode purposely to the car, popped the trunk and reached for the small plastic box that has been somewhere in the back of at least five previous vehicles.
“ACME CHASTAIN Travel First Aid Kit” it was labeled in a fading 1970s typeface. I figured it was good, because there was no expiration date.
I figured wrong.
Inside was a collection of tightly packed gauze packages, all yellow and brownish. There were also small scissors, aspirin and lots of bandages, all lacking that adhesive stickiness that makes them useful. There were tubes of ointment as dry as crayons. There was a card offering helpful hits for eight different emergencies.
But there was also this – a metal roll of 36 inches of 1-inch adhesive tape. Somehow in its metal container, it had retained its function.
Using the tape, and some gauze pads, we were able to fashion something that seemed to work.
The day saved, everyone went back to walking down old hallways and yelling from backrooms, while I went back to staying out of the way.
On the way home, I hit the drugstore to update my medical preparedness profile.
Who knows what emergencies might pop up over the next four decades?
Reach Bill Kirby at email@example.com.