I love Dorothy's introduction to the Tin Man in "The Wizard of Oz."
She and the scarecrow begin to lubricate the rusted woodsman with an oilcan.
When he starts leaning to the right they race to catch him only to discover that he's now tipping to the left.
Just when they've shifted to catch him on the left side he begins falling backward.
Which leads me to a similar comedy routine I was a part of the other day in church.
Falling Fred, an elderly gentleman from our parish, returned to his seat from communion and he began leaning right.
I wanted to yell "Timber!"
Those of us behind extended our arms just as the great oak reversed direction and started going left.
We were like spotters for an Olympic gymnast, bracing ourselves to catch him.
Finally, Fred aimed for his chair and made it.
The crisis passed momentarily until this octogenarian chose to get back up on his feet again.
Let's get a couple of things straight.
Falling Fred is a prayerful inspiring member of our church.
We admire that Fred chooses to venture out of his house instead of staying cooped up like an invalid.
We like his spunk.
But the truth is that Fred needs someone to escort him because he is so unsure of himself.
His cane makes him less unsteady.
However, Fred's muscles and joints have become so weak that a slight breeze could take him down.
On the verge of collapsing at any given moment.
Fred venturing out into the world without someone to go with him subjects him to potential injury.
Moreover, Fred is not being fair to the rest of us around him.
With his independent jaunts, he is telling shoppers, store clerks, and fellow churchgoers that he is not very considerate.
When Fred goes down, and I assure you that he will go down sometime soon, anyone within 10 feet will be forced by their own sense of compassion to lend a hand by trying to catch him.
Someone will injure themselves trying to break the fall of Falling Fred.
Freddy, we have great affection for you.
We just don't want to see you get hurt.
And you are implicitly asking those around you to serve as your at-the-ready emergency technicians because you refuse to get someone to help you.
Years ago Tim Conway won an Emmy playing an old man on the Carol Burnett show.
He walked very slowly sliding his feet only a few inches at a time along the floor.
When Falling Fred finally takes a dive, it won't be funny.
I know you have seen a Falling Fred in your travels as well.
Gently tell Falling Fred the truth.
He must recruit family and friends so he doesn't have to fly solo.
Either tell him or prepare to be pressed into service.
It's not cruel to be honest with him.
He'll suffer more if you drop him.