Neighbors: Even a couple bad falls can't take away former Fargoan's sense of humor

Former Minnesotan Paul Kelly was snapped in this photo following a hurricane in Florida. Special to The Forum
Former Minnesotan Paul Kelly was snapped in this photo following a hurricane in Florida. Special to The ForumSpecial to The Forum

Paul Kelly is a guy who has trouble playing anything straight. As evidence, here are two pictures he had made of himself following a hurricane in Florida, where he and his wife Linda live in Vero Beach.

Paul grew up in Pengilly, Minn. He and Linda lived in Fargo in the early 1970s, moved to Iowa and then to Vero Beach. Now, at age 76, he’s a retired coach with a sense of humor that hasn’t retired. He once proved this to Neighbors by writing that he hoped North Dakota State University someday would host a national collegiate ice fishing contest.

Paul Kelly goofs off on the beach in Florida. Special to The Forum
Paul Kelly goofs off on the beach in Florida. Special to The ForumSpecial to The Forum

But Paul’s sense of humor was tested last August when he was standing on a ladder doing some work on the top of his and Linda’s camper. The ladder slipped and he fell six feet, landing on his back.

“All I could say was, ‘Thank You Lord,’ because I suffered no broken bones,” he wrote at the time.

However, he wrote, he suffered some body injuries and, he said, “Both of my hands were swollen. Hopefully, two Advils would allow me to sleep that night. I just tried placing my hands in a pan of ice water, and if you had your windows open, you would have heard me scream.

“This camper idea is clearly for younger men!”

But Paul didn’t throw in the towel.

Two days after he fell, he went back up to the camper’s top to make a repair.

“Needless to say,” this man with a solid Christian faith said, “I was praying like crazy and quickly finished the needed repair. I carefully moved to the ladder and called out to Jesus again for His protection. All of this was done with two swollen hands, bruised ribs and back and one gimpy leg. “ And this time, he had no problem.

A few days later, he wrote this to Neighbors:

“Yesterday I cleaned the roof of the camper with a scrub brush and hose. I had all four scissor jacks in place, so I was working from a stable platform. However, it continues to make me a little nervous because I am 11 feet off the ground and balance is not my friend.

“Following the cleaning, I applied a full coat of white roof sealer, and the company guarantees the product for 12 years. So if my math is correct, that would mean I will be 88 before the next coat.

“Well, perhaps I can talk one of my grandsons into doing it for me in 2030.”

Paul signed his email with “The Old Nervous Painter.”

And then came last September.

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Another fall

“While doing some simple cleaning on our camper trailer,” Paul wrote, “I fell violently and landed on the concrete. I suffered a broken right hip and waited nearly an hour before the emergency people could take me to the hospital.

“I spent the next 24 days with five hip dislocations and two surgeries before being sent home. My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ never left my side, and Linda’s loving care will never be forgotten.

“I have lost 25 pounds, and our grandson Luke said, ‘Grandpa, you look different!’”

Paul did water therapy in his swimming pool. He gradually became stronger and stronger. However, he wrote, “Without question, this has been the most painful and difficult time of my life. But somehow the Lord has carried me and Linda through it all.”

Ah yes, that Linda. “Thankfully,” Paul says, “she is doing her best to soften the stress. Today, it is a blueberry pie and a Crock-Pot roast beef dinner with spuds, carrots and onions.”

And so Paul feels his the future looks bright. And so does his surgeon. “He told me he wants to join me next fall for some great North Dakota hunting,” Paul writes.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 701-241-5487 or email