A Stitch In Time

My mother, Evie Busk, was a perpetual fount of pithy sayings which could be deployed at each and every appropriate moment: A stitch in time saves nine; Children are to be seen but not heard; God helps those who help themselves; Look before you leap. The list is seemingly endless. Because many of my readers are in what my daughter-in-law refers to as my demographic, you probably heard all those things growing up as well, and that’s exactly why this blog’s for you, babe.

Pat Hall has been my best friend since fourth grade when her family moved into a house more or less a block from ours. From our place on Yuma Trail, I would go out the front gate, walk down the path between our house and Mrs. Corbett’s garage, cross Cole Avenue, walk past the east side of Harriet Smith’s house, duck through their carport and into their backyard. (FYI, blocks as such aren’t really a thing in Bisbee, Arizona!)

I spent a lot of time at Pat’s house. For one thing, there were only two kids in their family as opposed to seven in mine. It turns out, my readers have been in Pat’s house, too, because I based Joanna’s childhood home, the one Eleanor lived in both as a wife and a widow, on the McAdams family home on Campbell Avenue.

As I said, Pat and I met in fourth grade and were thick as thieves from then on. In Miss Stammer’s fifth grade class room, we used folded up wire hangers to pass notes back and forth. After going home for lunch, we’d each eat a garlic dill pickle on our way back to school. I’m sure we reeked every afternoon.

We walked back and forth to grade school and rode together during high school. Our senior year we were co-editors of the school newspaper, the Copper Chronicle. After high school we remained friends, seeing each other through marriages—two each—and divorces—one for me and two for her. She had a teaching degree and spent most of her career teaching kindergartners how to read, bless her!

For years now, she’s lived in Florida with a miniature poodle named Hazel. Last week, coming home from the grocery store, Pat felt funny—as though something wasn’t quire right. She made it out of the car and into the house where she collapsed with a stroke. She lay on the floor for close to twenty-four hours before she managed to drag herself over to her purse and use her phone to call for help. She’s now in the hospital and recovering. It sounds as though she should make a good recovery, but had she been treated sooner, the damage might have been less extensive

And why was her phone in her purse? Because, as most women know, the pockets on ladies’ clothing are only for show. They’re not deep enough or wide enough to hold anything useful. That’s one of the reasons I usually carry my cell phone in my bra!

So here’s the stitch in time part. CARRY YOUR PHONE WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES! No pockets? No problem! My daughter carries hers on a lanyard around her neck. It’s called Gear Beast. It consists of a lanyard similar to name tags lanyards used at conventions, but the bottom is a stretchy web made up of nylon cords that holds the phone in place. If you live alone and don’t have access to a cell phone, you can avail yourself of one of those life alert systems that allow you to call for help at the push of a button.

I spend an hour and a half almost every day walking outside my myself, marching along mostly on the driveway or other hard concrete surfaces. And yes, I did fall once, on the steps going down to the fish pond. On that occasion I was able to get myself up and drag myself inside, but the only thing that saved me from banging my head on the edge of the steps was having my hair in a bun, and the bun is the part that hit the step. If I had knocked myself silly, Bill would not have been able to hear me or see me from inside the house.

As of yesterday, I’m now wearing an Apple Watch. It makes me think of that long ago car used dealership on South Sixth Avenue in Tucson—Ugly but Honest. My Apple Watch isn’t a thing of beauty, but it comes with an important capability. If I take a tumble, the watch notices and sends me a text: “I see you’ve fallen. Are you okay?” If I don’t text an appropriate response within a minute, the watch automatically dials 911, and because of the watch’s GPS system, emergency responders will be able to find me.

Apple Watches are expensive. I’m lucky to have one, but wearing your cell phone on a lanyard is a cost-effective alternative.

If any of this sounds at all familiar or like it might possibly apply to you, I urge you to make Evie proud and take action now, because it’s true. A stitch in time really does save nine.

PS. Last week I heard from a fan in Kansas City. He’s a school bus driver who, at my urging, has taken up walking while waiting for his passengers to show up. Two weeks ago, while walking he, too, felt like something “wasn’t right.” After a trip to the doctor, he’s now has three stents aiding his heart’s blood pumping capability.

So maybe there’s another possible saying for you: Reading blogs can save lives! If not yours, maybe that of a friend or neighbor.

PS. Last week I heard from a fan in Kansas City. He’s a school bus driver who, at my urging, has taken up walking while waiting for his passengers to show up. Two weeks ago, while walking he, too, felt like something “wasn’t right.” After a trip to the doctor, he’s now has three stents aiding his heart’s blood pumping capability.

So maybe there’s another possible saying for you: Reading blogs can save lives! If not yours, maybe that of a friend or neighbor.

40 thoughts on “A Stitch In Time

  1. I enjoy reading your blogs so much having grown up in Bisbee. Pat is my sister in law and I adore her. I was friends with your sisters.

  2. I have never understood why people stop for dill pickles on their way home from school. Back when I was in high school a number of girls would go to a local mom and pop store to get dill pickles. I never succumbed.
    As for pockets, that is a big gripe of mine. I do not want to try to figure out if a lanyard would work for me. I cannot imagine something hanging around my neck giving me another pain.
    Did you ever notice that men do not have the same issues with pockets?

  3. Wonderful advice for everyone. As usual you came into my world with wonderful ideas. Thanks. Look forward to Friday’s

  4. I so agree with you about the pockets…and very seldom wear pants that don’t have them. But I am glad to hear I am not the only one who resorts to tucking hers inside her bra when necessary. Even when my kids give me grief about it..lol..thanks for brightening my Friday mornings.

  5. As a devout DTR, I’m really old school – my cell phone is a 90’s style flip-phone so no GPS ability. Still, I do take the phone with me and, like most women, deplore the no-pockets thing. Thanks for the lanyard idea. I have a cloth glasses drawstring pouch and and old lanyard which will work just fine. Fortunately, I’m not terribly fashion-conscious so, this won’t be a problem for me!

  6. Thank you. This is important to remember. I live alone, so these things are on my mind. I make sure a friend or family member checks in with me daily, and I do the same for them. Also, keep a list of all medications/special needs near when someone, like an EMT, can find it if need be. I started using an address book again, to keep track of family, friends, and other important contact information. I’ve become so used to using phones as my address book. Now I have both.

  7. Love this! I too wear my cell phone in my “bra-ket”. My WM Apache friends call it their Apache purse!

  8. Oh, thank you. I have been thinking about how to make something for a phone so it can be worn. I will check out the gear gadget. I usually do not have the phone with me. If I put it in my pants pocket who is to say that will not break if I fall?
    Didn’t you say that Bill had a gadget that told him he was losing weight too fast and to see his doctor, just before he had his issues? Was it the watch, also?

  9. I too have an Apple Watch. I got mine mainly because my husband has episodes of rapid heartbeat with lightheadedness. When he had one of these episodes I put the watch on him, had him put his finger on the correct button and ran the EKG. He then had something to take to his doctor and have it checked. So far all of my major falls happened prior to the Apple watch. Perhaps I am getting better at staying on my feet LOL. I try to carry the phone whenever I am out and about on the property.

  10. I enjoy each and every blog post. I almost always learn something and have a couple of chuckles. Your phone practical wisdom.

  11. No need to publish this. But I’m sure I’M your biggest fan (ha!) – born and bred in Washington state but now living in Naples Florida. If this is anywhere close to where Pat is in Florida I would love to visit her on your behalf. It would be my privilege?

  12. Wow, I am 78 years old but always do everything fast! Just before Christmas I decided to put things in my car to take to town (Show Low) the next day. I did not put porch light on and missed the bottom steps, feel on the cinders and hurt my right foot. I thought it would heal so I walked on it to shop and do all my normal activities, although it was swollen. When it turned red and started weeping, I finally went to Dr in San Diego where we went for New Years. Fractured in 4 places! All healed now, but yes, we all need to be more careful!

  13. Good advice. I’m forwarding your blog to a few people, one who has an apple watch.

  14. I always enjoy your blogs and your books and this blog was useful and
    made me think twice. I have an acre and sometimes wander out by myself and know if I fell, it would be hard to get myself up. So now I’ll take my phone with me.
    Thanks for the “heads up”.

  15. I LOVE fridays. In the “working past”, it was the day before two wonderful days of being off work. I searched my mind for an appropriate description of the weekend but, more often than not, I came up with chores and not much fun time. However, it was my time to do what I needed to do for family, pets or sometimes myself!
    These days, I love fridays because they start the day with the “J.A. Jance” (still not comfortable with a more familiar term although she (you ) feel like more of a friend and confidant than the author of the books I love.
    Unlikes my mother’s admonition and suggestions, a lot of the weekly blogs have hints for various types of “betterment”. (I think I coined that word!) These suggestions are beautifully couched in someone’s personal experience, not “you shoulds”. Regardless, there are gems of self improvement, self betterment (hmmm?, maybe I didn’t coin that word!) and introspection.
    My fridays aren’t the same if Ihaven’t spent time with Evie and/or friends beautifully portrayed in these blogs.
    Let’s hear it for fridays!!!!

  16. “If wishes were horses, beggers would ride!” That was one of my mother’s favourite sayings. I really enjoy your blogs. I think you there should be a law to make it illegal for clothing to not have pockets! If that makes sense.

  17. Ladies, if you aren’t into fashion and have the build for it, you can buy men’s jeans and have those bigger pockets that fit cellphones. My brother bought me a flip phone when I turned 68 and two years later I don’t go out to work on the farm without it. A friend was out discing a field and fell getting off his tractor. Couldn’t get back on and didn’t have his cellphone with him. His wife wondered why he hadn’t come in for supper and called her daughter who found him. Broken hip. He’s still farming and always carries his cell phone with him.

  18. My favorite day is Friday because of your blog. I am thankful your best friend is recovering. You always give solid advice. I always keep my phone on me just to be safe. Also another good tip is to download the free app Aspire on your phone. Robin McGraw, Dr Phil’s wife, through her foundation When Georgia Smiled created it for domestic violence prevention but it is good for anyone who might be kidnapped or in trouble.

  19. I have an apple watch. I improved it’s looks with a new watch band..I’ve never fallen while wearing it, but I am glad I have it..because you can’t call me Grace!

    Funny story, but quick..at my parents house, we have a full sized old Iron bedstead. With modern box and mattress it comes up to about my hip height..I’m 5’2. I tried to climb into bed and missed. Fell on my bucket! I told my Mom later that I was glad I’d put my watch on the charger..would not have wanted to explain that the EMS!

    • After reading your April 9th Blog, I was inspired to purchase an Apple Watch 6 with cellular capabilities. Like most Seniors I am concerned about falling and not having my phone at hand. What a relief to know that now Help will be summoned if I fall or otherwise need to contact emergency personnel. I also like the fact that it monitors aspects of your health and fitness. Plus so much information is right on your wrist!! So thank you so much for your very helpful advice?

  20. My granddaughter has an Apple Watch. Begged..only thing for Christmas birthday and next Christmas. 😉 She’s a young teen but walks alone to school in a suburb and if she feels threatened calls her mom or dad. Once playing tennis in a public park she and a friend saw a guy just kept watching them. When they moved to another court so did he. They freaked out, called mom on the Apple Watch and as soon as they did he got in his car and sped off. So it isn’t just for people of an “ age” .
    I poke my phone in my pants around to house alone. Dang tiny pockets.

  21. I saw on TV this week that a very young girl had requested a pants maker to produce pants with pockets and got her wish. Let’s start a women’s movement to demand decent-sized pockets in all women’s clothing!! We can defy the male designers who want to accentuate women’s curves and so sacrifice the convenience of pockets!

  22. Several of my friends, who are older than I am, have started wearing the Life Alert buttons, as they have fallen at home. They’ve been able to get up by themselves, but became concerned because they live alone. Another friend wears his phone on a lanyard, but it’s because he used to lose his phone on a regular basis. I miss my old flip phone that fit comfortably in the pocket of my jeans!

  23. I buy things from Lands’ End because the cardigans and pants have pockets. When I am out and about I have my phone in a pocket.

  24. Great advice for all! Guess I will have to get an Apple watch or start wearing a well I guess I better but the watch huh!

  25. Great advice! Another option for carrying phones without pockets is a Buddy Pouch that fits over a waist band and connects with magnets. No belt needed either. I find my phone too heavy to hang via a lanyard around my neck. This Buddy Pouch is super. Available at their website or Ancestry.

  26. Your Apple Watch also allows you to make and receive phone calls and text messages. You can get blood oxygen level, beats per minute of your heart and take an EKG. Mine costs $18/month for 30 months plus $10 on the phone bill. Does a lot more than Life Alert for less money

  27. Good advice. I don’t live alone (I live with my sister), but I make sure I take my phone with me when I’m out of the house. However, I know I wouldn’t like my phone around my neck. I use a small cross body purse when shopping. I checked on Amazon and another alternative might be one of the sleeve carriers or even something that goes around the waist for wearing at home.

  28. My daytime ‘uniform’ is a tee and jeans; my cell phone is a smallish flip phone that fits nicely in my right-hand front pocket, where it stays from the time I dress in the morning until I undress at bedtime. As an 83 YO with HBP, the possibility of a stroke is often in my thoughts; for that reason, I wouldn’t consider wearing a garment without a pocket for my phone. I just hope that in an emergency, I’d remember where it is!

  29. Another great blog. I would add don’t be lulled into thinking falls, etc only “happen to the other guy”. I wish Apple would make their watches more affordable to the general population. The company has over $1billion in cash. Making a lifesaving product more affordable doesn’t sound like it would hurt their bottom line.

  30. What a timely subject for your blog. Many of us have reached the senior level, age wise, which leaves us more susceptible to strokes. My daughter, who is an occupational therapist, worries about her parents and the possibility of a stroke. She sent me a brochure which lists 10 signs and symptoms of stroke: 1. Confusion 2. Difficulty understanding 3. Dizziness 4. Loss of balance 5. Numbness 6. Severe Headache 7. Trouble speaking 8. Trouble walking 9. Vision changes 10. Weakness. The brochure clarifies “Note that the symptoms or a combination of them are not unique to stroke, but if they are sudden and out of the ordinary, they may indicate a sign of stroke and require immediate action.” Awareness of the signs of a stroke is of the utmost importance.

  31. After getting this blog I noticed a video in my youtube feed on the history of women’s pockets from the 15th to the 21st century. Amazing timing.

  32. We must be walking through the same dimensions! I spent last week replacing the iwatch my children gave me a few years ago for Mother’s Day. They knew the “I’ve fallen & I can’t get up” around my neck would not be something I’d embrace, so they got the watch and I liked it. Time and temp was great …until I didn’t have the cover on the face, dropped it and it was a shattered mess. After a trip to the genius bar, I found it cost prohibitive to replace the glass face because it was out of apple care …and ended up with a better one, the SE with the fall feature & you don’t have to press a button as required by the old one! Half of what the kids paid before, and on sale at Costco. Lots of plastic face covers from Amazon, and life is good. Highly recommend this for all of an age whose mothers said the same things as Evie Busk. My mother’s favorite was said after her, “If you can’t say something nice…” and it was, “Isn’t there a nicer way to say that?”.

  33. Good advice! I still have a landline and I have an extension in every room, so if I’m not near my cell phone I’m usually near a phone. An apple watch is an even better idea if one can afford one. The cell phone on a lanyard is a great idea but it would drive my crazy wearing it all the time. Outside, though, it does sound like a wise necessity. Also I want to share what I found out about LIFE ALERT, the one they’re always advertising on tv. When my husband started having memory issues, I purchased (rented, really) LIFE ALERT, so that he could at least wear it around his neck when I was at the grocery store, etc. It was set up so that it called my cell phone first before calling the emergency number, so if he pushed it by accident I would be alerted first. Anyway, long story but an important one, I found out our local hospital also had a type of life alert. It’s much, much cheaper and works the same as LIFE ALERT. So when I tried to get out of my “lease” for LIFE ALERT, I found that I was locked in at $60 a month for three years. I was desperate when I signed up for it and did not read the “fine print”. Big mistake. The only way I was finally able to cancel it was to have my husband’s home health care nurse take care of the cancellation and I won’t even go into the nightmare that ensued. Stupidly I didn’t take the time to read the reviews on LIFE ALERT, either, before signing up. Just a word of caution if you care to share my experience, to always check with one’s local services before getting roped into the same situation I did. When the company finally gave permission to cancel my “lease”, just returning the equipment turned into another nightmare. Obviously I’d assume the person needing such a device it to not be in the best of health, which was the case in my circumstance, and needless to say you’re not thinking quite straight, either you or a family member needing to arrange for it for a loved one, and LIFE ALERT was more than happy to rope me in without mentioning the cancellation procedure if and when the equipment was no longer needed. I know this has been a long and sordid story, but even though it’s been almost three years ago, the entire experience with LIFE ALERT still makes my blood boil. Also I didn’t mention before but in some of the LIFE ALERT reviews I read, after the fact, some people have even needed to send LIFE ALERT a copy of the death certificate for the person who was using the equipment, in order to get out of the lease. Anyway, I’m glad to hear that your dear friend Pat is doing okay. That certainly could happen to many of us that are now of a “certain demographic”.

    • You are a reason I always read the comments on this blog. Thank you SO much for this information. I don’t need it now but I’m sure it will be of value down the road.

    • I’m so sorry you went through that aggravation over LIFE ALERT. When I worked in home care, one of my patients got a similar alert system. Unfortunately, this lady fell on a dirt road behind her home, and pressed the button, but she was too far from home and the alert was not received. She was on the ground with a fractured shoulder until her dog went to a neighbor’s home and barked until the neighbor came out and called an ambulance.

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