Who Called the Cops?

May 18, 2024 at 7:19 a.m.
Louise Smith was expecting a low-key 94th birthday
Louise Smith was expecting a low-key 94th birthday

...by Louise R. Smith

I was expecting that my 94th birthday might be fairly low key, with family members only and no fuss. It was far from that.

To start with, there was the traditional special dinner. My son-in-law, Larry, barbecued my favorite ribs, accompanied by delicious side dishes, salad, and a lighted birthday cake and ice cream. The great meal was punctuated with the opening of cards and gifts. This scene was almost an anti-climax since my kids had already presented me with an advance birthday gift  previously. I now was the possessor of a Guardian Alert button.

Although I didn’t feel I needed one, I wear it continuously around my neck, sometimes dropping it over my back out of sight. A bejeweled necklace, it is not, believe me! But in case I were to stub a toe and land on the floor unable to get up, I could punch a button in a cry for help. As of yet, I have had no occasion for needing it. The Guardian Alert gives all a sense of peace when I need to be alone.

After our dinner, everyone separated to do their own things. Larry was perched atop his new toy, a small tractor with which he mows the lawn; daughter, Ann, was pulling weeds in her flowerbeds with the assistance (?) of her 15-month-old grandson, Zarni. In the far distance they heard a siren which perplexed Zarni. Ann explained that it was either a police car or a fire engine answering a call from someone in trouble. 

But it started getting closer until it came to our turnoff; then raced down the driveway and stopped. Two policemen jumped out of their car, observed the peaceful scene, and continued into our house with Larry, Ann and Zarni in hot pursuit. There, they found my granddaughter, Brenda, and her husband cleaning up the kitchen.

In the meantime, after dinner, I had made a beeline for my quarters. Though my hearing at 94 isn’t to be trusted, I thought I heard a woman’s voice, loud and clear, calling me.

“Mom, can you hear me?”

Wow, I decided, my kids must have invested in a new electronic gadget that could project voices from outside. They had already given me a talking clock and a talking indoor-outdoor thermometer, both of which are easily activated by pushing a button. What next? I wondered.

“Yes, I can hear you,” I replied. “Can you hear me?”

“Pick up your phone,” she said.

“I can’t,” I explained, “I’m in the bathroom.”

Complete silence followed. I hustled out to check my voice mail in my phone. There was no message. Just as I stretched out to relax in my recliner chair, Brenda burst into my room.

“Grandma, are you okay?”

“Of course, I’m fine,” I told her.

Then I discovered she was followed by two uniformed policemen who pointed out that I had accidentally triggered my alert button and dialed into 911.

To get the device out of my way, I had dropped it down my back and pushed the button leaning up against the back of the toilet seat lid.

How not to celebrate your 94th birthday! 

This article is from our archives. Louise Smith was a retired newspaper editor and frequent contributor to Northwest Prime Time. I was utterly charmed by Louise when I met her years ago. I remember thinking to myself that I hoped to become more like her as I grew older. She passed away at 95 & one-half in 2009. To learn more about Louise, read a funny, heartfelt tribute by another frequent Northwest Prime Time contributor, former associate editor Suzanne Beyer. Here is the link – I recommend you give it a go. Reading it brought a tear and a hearty chuckle: https://www.bothell-reporter.com/opinion/remembering-a-special-friend-louise-r-smith/

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