It was my senior year of college at the University of Washington. I worked as a cocktail waitress at the Tally Ho, which were restaurant lounges in three hotels in Seattle. I had worked my way up from hostess to breakfast waitress to cocktails during my years in school.
One night at work, I got a phone call from a suicide hotline. (I need give a shout out to LA from Waking up on the Wrong Side of 50 for her post about her burn and reminding me of a scar I still carry.)
The person on the line said they received a call from a family member of mine who attempted to end their life. She refused to give me any more information and quickly hung up. I called back and learned the phone call was an error. They were not allowed to give out confidential information of any kind. They weren’t supposed to call me in the first place and could give me no further information.
My parents were going through a messy divorce. I remember feeling like gravity had disappeared and at any moment I would fall off the Earth.
I left work and drove home to Snohomish to our family home, which was 45 minutes away from Seattle. I remember commuting to school and staying home with Mom as much as possible. She was the person who called the suicide hotline and gave them my work number after slitting her wrist.
Weeks later, we were at Nordstrom downtown Seattle and Mom wanted make up for her scar on her wrist. I was mortified when she approached a woman at a counter and asked for help. She showed her scar on her wrist and the woman behind the counter after an initial shocked look, was gracious and found something for my mom to cover up the scar.
Unfortunately, my internal scar never went away.
I was taking a class at the UW in radio broadcast and I had to splice together a recording. I chose the Beatles song “Help” and wrote a piece about the suicide hotline. My professor was very concerned and wondered why I had chosen that specific topic.
I am amazed I made it through the quarter and graduated.
Speaking of scars, which ones do you carry with you physically or internally?
I was home caring for my dad, who had shoulder surgery. My daughter and husband were in Los Angeles at a swim meet for the weekend (son in college). I had to pick up my dad’s meds at the pharmacy and I told him not to leave the recliner we had rented for his recovery — placed in front of the TV.
When I returned, he was on the floor. Of course, he didn’t listen to me and didn’t stay put.
“I can’t get my dad off the floor!” I called my husband on his cell. After numerous attempts with Dad, neither one of us made an inch of progress.
In the background, I heard my daughter say “Call Mr. Siffleet!”
Of course, why hadn’t I thought of that? Karl was married to one of my close friends who lived less than a mile away. They had a daughter who went to kindergarten through high school with my daughter. Karl and my husband swam 5:30 a.m. Masters together.
Within minutes, Karl came over, picked my dad up as though he was a bag of potatoes and placed him comfortably in his chair. Thank you, Karl!
I can’t remember all the things Karl did for us during the decades we lived in that home. But what I do remember is going to a post-op appointment after knee surgery about thirty minutes away. I realized I left the stove on for vegetable soup I was cooking.
Yikes! I called Karl and he came over to the house, turned off the stove — and put the burnt pot outside.
Yes, this family had a key to our house. They even took care of Olive the cat while we were on vacation.
Another time, our swim team was hosting a meet at the city pool. We had an extensive set up of pop-up tents constructed from poles and tarps, tables, electronic timing equipment, scoreboard, snack bar, grills, timing chairs, etc. We’d have more than 1,000 people to host at swim meets for a three-day weekend — including swimmers and family members.
One morning, my husband (who was Mr. Meet Manager) arrived at the pool at dawn to find tons of equipment in the pool. We blamed the skaters from the next-door skate park. But it could have been any gang of hoodlums. My husband called (I was comfortably asleep in bed) and asked me to drive our daughter to the pool. Karl also showed up — probably to help with set up — and they dove in and retrieved equipment from the bottom of the deep end, hours before the meet began.
I miss living near Karl and his family. I’m glad we are still in touch, but I really miss a neighbor like Karl who always came to the rescue! He was our local superman.
What have your neighbors done for you when you needed help? Do you play that role with any neighbors?