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'Alexa, what’s my Plan B?’

Because our friend Bob uses two hiking poles to help with his balance, we call him Sticks.

While having a coffee with Sticks and a few other friends, a siren could be heard off in the distance. Sticks simply looked up and announced, “Here comes my ride.” Everyone laughed. That joke is a keeper.

A few days later, while watching a movie with my wife, Kerry, we heard a siren far off in the distance. I immediately looked at Kerry and said, “Here comes my ride.” She thought it was a cute joke.

The siren got louder, then suddenly stopped. I could hear the roaring sound of the diesel engine racing up my street. With lights still flashing, this first responder pulled up and parked right in front of our house. The lights continued to cast eerie shadows onto our living room ceiling and walls. I turned to Kerry with a puzzled look on my face and asked, “Is this God teaching me some sort of lesson?”

We quickly realized that they were heading to Sam’s, my neighbor directly across the street. Sitting in two recliners in front of our living room windows, it was like watching a 3-D movie on the big screen. Within minutes an ambulance could be heard screaming up our street. We prayed that Sam was all right but we feared the worse. After 10 minutes or so we watched as Sam, on a stretcher, was placed into the ambulance and whisked away. It wasn’t until the next day that we learned about the circumstances surrounding Sam’s emergency.

Sam had fallen in his bathroom, and it was two days before his son found him. My heart breaks as I think that my friend was so close to me, dying, and I didn’t know it. Sam did survive the ordeal, only to find out that his fall was due to a glioblastoma brain tumor. It was suggested that Sam get his affairs in order.

Sam asked me if I would write his obituary for him, and while choking back tears I agreed. Sam is now living with his son Jasen in Virginia, surrounded by family, loving on him as he completes his life’s journey. His other son Justin has moved into Sam’s house — our new neighbor.

Here is what I take away from this experience. My heart tells me that there are too many folks dying alone because they have no Plan “A” or “B” in place.

Did you know that an Alexa on the East Coast can be set up to have a voice-activated, two-way conversation with an Alexa on the West Coast? You can rent a monitored “Help-me-I’ve-fallen-and-I-can’t-get-up system for under $20 per month. Did you know that a simple phone call to an elderly loved one, twice a day, could prevent someone you care about from dying on the floor alone, afraid?

Two years ago, weak from cancer, my brother Kevan fell in his apartment in Nanaimo, British Columbia, on a Sunday evening. As his neighbors left for work the next day, somehow someone heard his soft moans and dialed 911. He died alone and afraid not that long after being rushed to the hospital. Kevan had no plan “A” or “B” Come on folks, it’s not that complicated. What’s your Plan “A” or “B”?

Richard Hunter lives in Jacksonville.

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