As some of you may have noticed, there was no Phil Dirkx column last week. Emergency brain surgery makes it difficult to think and write.
I’m his grandson from New York City, whom he’s mentioned in columns from time to time, and I have called Paso Robles a second home. Every time I tell someone in Paso Robles where I’m from, without fail they will say “Goodness, I could never live there” and I always think to myself, “That’s fine, I couldn’t live in a small town either.”
I know they mean nothing by it, and neither do I. Even though we are all living in the same country, it can sometimes feel like a different world. In New York I walk everywhere. Here people drive everywhere. At home, I try to avoid making eye contact on the street. Here people know your name and smile and give a “good morning.”
What is a blessing about living in a place like Paso or San Luis is that people will go above and beyond to help you.
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When my mother called last Wednesday night to say that Papa needed emergency surgery, I felt helpless. Being 3,000 miles away can do that to a person. What I did know is that there were many people who knew him here and would do their best to help.
That’s not to say that help and kindness don’t happen in big cities. Of course there are dozens and dozens of top hospitals and surgeons, but none would know me when I walk through their doors.
For Papa, people have gone above and beyond to help with everything. According to all the nurses and hospital workers, one of the finest surgeons worked on him at Sierra Vista and his followup care has been outstanding. Although he had his brain exposed a week ago, he is already out of Sierra Vista and rehabbing quite nicely.
I read his columns religiously, and I’m sure I know more about the North County water supply than anyone on the Eastern seaboard, except for maybe my mother. While I know sometimes it is a challenge for Papa to produce a weekly column, I know that he considers it an honor to still be writing.
Thanks to the surgeon, the nurses, the administrators, and to every neighbor, friend, family member and reader who gave their well wishes.
I hope this will not be the last item written by a Dirkx in The Tribune. There is something to be said for living in a small town, and I’m proud to call this my second home.
(Phil Dirkx is recuperating at Vineyard Hills, 290 Heather Ct., Templeton, CA, 93465.)