Enough with the Perspective

I resent perspective. I respect it, but I dread it. Seldom am I grateful for it, because typically it comes in the midst of pain.

I want to complain about the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s cutting 189 jobs and that there is a compelling case that people in Southern California would be just fine without the Los Angeles Times. I’m sad Gregg Herrington, who spent 33 years at my former employer, The Columbian, felt compelled to retire early, predicting layoffs that would come later that week. One of those eight in the newsroom let go was the reporter who replaced and most likely bettered me.

How about the fact that I spent my entire vacation last week cleaning and reorganizing my garage? Sure, it was my choice, but when did that ever matter when the mood to whine came along?

On Wednesday of my vacation week, perspective paid a visit.

Since we moved into our University Point neighborhood about three years ago, I’ve seen our next-door neighbor Craig Brown fix electrical switches in our house, join another neighbor (Ed Powell) in climbing atop our backyard gazebo to fasten down some wind-caused wayward plastic roof panels and put clothing he wore in the South Pole (Seriously, the South Pole.) on my dad when a four-day power outage came.

During that same outage he was all over the neighborhood checking on generators. A month ago or so Craig helped chase a squatting raccoon out of two houses, including ours, and built a solution to keep the critter out of our attic permanently.

Thanks to Craig my kids now have a place to hang their bike helmets at the top of the driveway, a wood-carved sign that shows off our address.

He’s a fixture around the county, too, a member of the Pacific Northwest Photographic Society, the Bremerton Tennis & Athletic Club and a BlueJackets season-ticket holder.

Last Wednesday Craig walked down our driveway as I sat in our garage and my wife, Diana, sat on the front deck with our boys as they splashed in a brand new kiddy pool. Craig had a potted plant in his hands and gave it to Diana, saying they were having trouble caring for it.

About 10 minutes after he left we heard the cries, “Call 911!” Diana got to the Browns’ backyard first and found Craig face down on the ground, unconscious.

The contractor who had been doing the yelling said Craig fell off the second-story deck he’d been helping rebuild.

We’ve all been told to be careful moving people in that situation, because we don’t know what kind of spinal damage they might have. When Diana arrived, though, she found Craig with his mouth and nose pressed hard against the ground, so she lifted his head enough for him to breathe. We later rotated him on his side and back for the same purpose. Craig eventually opened his eyes on and off. When the medics arrived he was speaking enough to give his name to them and to indicate how much pain he was in. That was uncharacteristic for the busiest and fittest 71-year-old I’ve probably ever met.

He is at Harborview Medical Center now, stable, but not out of the woods. Yesterday he had surgery to repair broken vertebrae in his neck. There is still a list of other serious things to deal with. He opens his eyes from time to time and squeezes a hand on command.

Two times last week he likely approached death, once in the backyard and once on Friday as his blood pressure dropped while they prepped him for a surgery that was then postponed. His fitness and his attitude, and let’s not forget the skilled CK medics and Harrison and Harborview staff, have kept him alive.

His wife Joanie and his family have been there in Seattle with him. His tiny little dog Coconut, whose bark and bite don’t amount to much, has been with us. She misses Craig. So do we. We can’t imagine our neighborhood without him. We’re praying we won’t have to know that for long, though he’s never welcome on my roof again. We’ve all had enough perspective for now.

If you know Craig, Harborview has a site on which you can e-mail him. Joanie said he has responded well to the e-mails they’ve received so far. You can find the site by clicking here.

I’ll post a photo of Craig as soon as I can get access to one.

2 thoughts on “Enough with the Perspective

  1. Craig is one of the nicest men anyone could care to meet. Always there with a smile and offering help when it is needed. A great volunteer at the Kitsap County Fair. I’ve heard the surgery on his spine went well and that he is doing much better.

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