One of my next-door neighbor ladies accidentally set herself on fire a couple of weeks ago. It happened around midnight the eve of our departure for Florida and I slept through the noise and lights from the police, fire trucks, and the ambulance; I didn’t learn of the incident until yesterday. Initially the ambulance took her to the emergency room of a local hospital where her condition was judged as beyond their scope of services. Flight For Life was called in to helicopter her to the Loyola Medical Center Burn Unit. She is in very critical condition. Over the past couple of weeks, she has undergone radical treatments including a series of skin grafts; they finally were able to wean her from the breathing tube today.
The family’s only source of income is the husband’s pension. Over the years, I have helped them out with a few bucks and favors such as snow removal, helping to change the starter on their pickup truck, and mowing their lawn when the husband was sick. When the husband finished relating the story of their latest tragedy, I handed him $50 for gas money to help him make his daily drives from here to Maywood and told him I would take care of his lawn for the rest of this season. He won’t receive another pension check until November 1st; I’ll be slipping him another $50 next week.