Lessons of a locked pantry door - Empty Nest by Curt Swarm


You know you've been in the insurance business a long time when you go to a home for an appointment, realize you've been in the home before, but with a different family. (Deja vu all over again, as Yogi Berra would say?) Such was the case for me in Brighton. It was a nice brick ranch home. We sat in the same dining room, looked out the same picture window, at the same beautiful backyard, but with different people.

The lady, 75-year old Pat Hagist, was baby sitting her nearly two-year old Great Grandson, Waylon, that day, a beautiful child. She explained that he was born with three holes in his heart, but the defect had been repaired surgically. Waylon now pushes her heavy furniture around like toys.

Pat pointed at two side-by-side doors in the kitchen. One door was to a bathroom, the other a pantry. The pantry had been a closet but her kids built shelves and made it into a pantry for her.

Last November, she was taking care of Waylon and was in the pantry getting something. Waylon, being a helpful child, shut the pantry door. No problem, except there was no door handle on the inside of the pantry door. Fortunately, the pantry had a light. Pat kept her cool. She spoke to Waylon through the door and tried to get him to open it. Nothing doing. He just gurgled.

Pat is a resourceful woman, and tried to fashion a screwdriver out of a pop-top can lid. Attempting to turn the door handle with the crude tool, all she managed to do was knock the door handle off the other side of the door. She bent down and looked through the hole trying to see what Waylon was up to. But he was too short to see the top of his head.

She took a heavy can and tried to beat the door open. If she broke the door, she would replace it. The door wouldn't budge.

What to do? The hinges to the door were on the other side. Drat. And she had left her cell phone in the kitchen. Waylon was in the house all by himself! But she could hear him on the other side of the door, jabbering. She talked to him in a soothing voice, and he actually laid down on the carpeted kitchen floor and went to sleep on the other side of the door. She could hear him breathing.

Her kids wouldn't be home for some time. They had gone to Menards in Burlington to get her a new vanity for her bathroom. She had no choice, she would have to wait it out. The pantry was so small, she could hardly sit down on the floor.

After about two hours, Waylon woke up from his nap, and she shoved saltine crackers under the door for him so he would have something to eat. She could hear the Brighton town siren go off indicating it was noon. She had been in the pantry three hours!

Finally, she could hear and feel the vibration of the garage door opening. Her son was home. She hollered, “I need some help here!”

He hollered back, “I need some help here unloading this vanity!”

But she was rescued—a 75-year old woman finally coming out of the closet, she joked.

There is now a door handle on both sides of the pantry door. Her kids have instructed her to always have her cellphone on her, and there is a miniature tool kit in the pantry. They discussed getting her a life-alert line, and as her insurance agent, I was able to show her how her insurance would provide one, no charge.

Were there some personal issues she had to take care of while she was trapped in the pantry? Only God and Pat Hagist know.

Have a good story?  Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com.

Brighton, Curt Swarm, Empty Nest, Mt. Pleasant, opinion, pantry, Pen City Current


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