We do not have assigned seats in the living room of the Henley hacienda. However, there is for the most part an unspoken understanding between my wife, Nancy, and I regarding which chairs can be sat in freely and which ones bear an invisible "reserved" sign.

Nancy has laid claim to a wooden rocking chair that my bride said was purchased at a hardware store either before or shortly after the birth of our first child over 4 ½ decades ago. On countless occasions the rocker has worked its magic by putting to sleep not only all five of our children, but even their weary mother.

My chair of choice is a recliner that was given to us a few years ago by Nancy's parents. I spend a considerable amount of time in that chair since I watch television, talk on the phone, listen to Cardinal, Chief and MU Tiger games, take naps and sleep the night in it.

Considering all the time I spend in the chair Nancy has taken numerous steps to protect it from getting dirty. On the arm rests she has placed a couple of hand towels, whose length fits just about perfectly. On the left arm rest is a towel that features a few rows of small, blue squares. Between the rows of squares are faded pictures of young children and rabbits, that Nancy says are Precious Moments characters. On the right arm rest is a towel that features a light background. Sprinkled across it are an assortment of colorful leaves. At one end is a circle that is a few inches wide. Written inside the circle are the words "Happy Fall."

One day as I stood in another room of the hacienda I suddenly heard my spouse erupt in laughter for no apparent reason. When I entered the living room Nancy pointed at the source of her amusement, the towel on the right arm rest, specifically the words "Happy Fall."

She was seeing the words not for the season of the year, which obviously was what the towel was supposed to represent, but in terms of something that I have become quite proficient at — falling.

I had sat in that chair on numerous occasions since the towel acknowledging the season had been added, but I had never seen the potential of a humorous double meaning until my bride pointed it out to me.

The moment of levity I shared with Nancy on that early July day was appreciated, considering all the Parkinson's-related problems I was experiencing at about that time. During the span of approximately a week's time I averaged roughly two falls a day.

After most of my tumbles Nancy was able to get me back on my feet. However, on three occasions when Nancy was not at home I was forced to seek assistance, which the good people at the Marion County Ambulance District and Hannibal Fire Department capably provided.

While most of my tumbles occurred at home, one happened at city hall where I was covering a meeting of the city council. On that occasion Building Inspector Mike Murphy, Fire Chief Mike Benjamin and Police Chief Lyndell Davis rendered assistance.

Since Nancy pointed out the “Happy Fall” towel I have found myself wondering if there is such a thing. I can remember plenty of fall days when I would grab my cameras and have a happy time photographing the fall foliage. But sadly that type of an enjoyable fall day is no longer possible for an assortment of reasons.

My knee-jerk reaction to the thought of having a happy time falling in such a way that I wind up sprawled on the floor calling for help, was that such a thing is not possible. Then it occurred to me that if I took a tumble that found me landing on a pile of Nancy's quilts so that I did not wind up battered and bruised, maybe a happy fall is not out of the question.

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