Yesterday I ran into my mother’s neighbour. (Technically he’s my neighbour too since we all live on the same street but that’s a whole other bottle of wine.)
As with every other time that I run into this neighbour, I politely said, “bonjour” (he’s French) and continued on the often over-used path between my mother’s house and mine. But as I continued on my merry way I thought, “This guy saved my life and I don’t even know his name. Shame on me!”
While it’s true that I’m a firm believer in the golden rule of “stay close to your neighbours but only because you have to”, I’m also a follower of the “be grateful to those who save your life” philosophy.
But a whole ten months have passed since said nameless neighbour saved me from falling to my death. That’s almost a year! I can’t just walk up to him now and ask him his name, right? And what about his wife, Mrs. Nameless Neighbour? Because that’s how rumours start, you know.
Let me tell you about the time that Mr. Nameless Neighbour saved my life . . .
It was a fall day and it started out like any other fall day. I got up, looked out the window and thought, “If I had a dollar for every leaf on my front yard, I would hire someone to pick up all those leaves!”
Unfortunately that thought got filed away under “will never happen” so I went outside and started raking, bagging, swearing, when suddenly I had the genius idea to surprise my mother by cleaning out her eaves troughs. Within seconds I was walking down that over beaten path I mentioned, carrying my extra long ladder. Before you start thinking that I’m some sort of super woman, I think it’s only fair to mention that usually Greg does the eaves trough cleaning around here.
But silly me thought I’d watched him enough times to figure out how to lean a ladder against the side of a house and climb on up with as much enthusiasm as a new contestant on a very old t.v. game show. (Note the random reference to my age.)
So I climbed up the ladder and onto the roof of my mother’s house – cautious yet determined to get the job done. All was going well. Inching along like a crab, I managed to clean out about three feet of eaves trough until I made one wrong move: I let my vision focus past the edge of the roof to down . . . very, very down. The patio furniture, flower pots, garden . . . everything was about a million miles north of my perch.
Suddenly I was paralyzed. Partly because I had stopped breathing but mostly because a very loud voice wouldn’t shut up.
“OH MY GOD. I’M AFRAID OF HEIGHTS!!!”
Unfortunately that big voice – the one that was brave enough to scream inside my head – was a coward when it came to calling for help. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t even muster enough courage to WHISPER the word “help”.
And so I sat like that in the assumed position of if-I-breathe-I-WILL-fall for just about forever until finally Mr. Nameless Neighbour came out and started putzing around in his yard. It took a long time for him to notice me sitting up there and I’m sure I scared the bejesses out of him when he finally did notice me, sitting up there all quiet and stalker-like. Only I wasn’t stalking. I was panicking with no one to console me except myself. (I was too busy panicking to actually calm myself down.)
After a few glances at me from his ground level safe zone, Mr. Nameless Neighbour finally realized that I needed help. It took an eternity for him to coax me back down the ladder.
And here I thought I was only afraid of sharks!