On a relatively mild February afternoon in 2013, I inexplicably fell into the middle of a street a couple of blocks from my home. It’s one of those things that happen to people of my age (83 then) over which they seem to have no control.
All I remember is heading face down onto the hard, cold asphalt pavement, with my glasses breaking into two pieces. From then on – for perhaps ten or more minutes – everything is more or less a blank. The first clear memory I have is entering the back door of our home.
“I have no idea how I got home, though I have a vague image of being in a car, like a Ford Escape, with a young couple,” I told the emergency room doctors
Though I couldn’t be sure, I figured that the young couple were Good Samaritans and brought me home. Who they were, I had no idea. I had never seen them before, and I began wondering if they even existed. Perhaps I had dreamed the whole episode.
It turned out the fall was quite serious; stitches were required to close wounds on my face, the glasses were ruined and the EKG examination found blood on my brain. As a result I spent two days in intensive care while they kept an eye on me. They tell me the fall, however, has had no lasting effect on the brain, though some who know me may doubt that.
The identity of the mystery couple remained a mystery.
Just the other day, on a warm, sunny June afternoon, I was out walking again, trying to rehabilitate my left knee after a replacement operation six months earlier (another surgery so commonplace among oldsters these days) and found myself headed toward the same intersection into which I fell on that chilly, dreary February afternoon 16 months earlier.
A half-block before the intersection, I notice a woman about to get into a Ford Escape –like vehicle. She looked at me, giving me close examination, as if she may know me. I didn’t recognize her, but as is my neighborly manner greeted her with a “hi.”
She said nothing for an instant before asking: “Aren’t you the man who fell in the street down there a year ago?” She pointed toward the intersection.
“Yes,” I said. I still didn’t recognize the woman, but reasoned that she must have been the woman of the young couple into whose car I remembered from that day.
She agreed she was and I said, “You probably saved my life.” That was no overstatement since perhaps without the couple’s help I might have remained flat down in the street and could have been easily run over in the late afternoon darkness.
“I saw you were all bloody and told my boyfriend that you probably needed help,” she told me. “You wanted to walk home by yourself and you argued with us that you were all right, and my boyfriend had to lift you into the back seat.”
How they realized where I lived I forgot to ask her, but she said they dropped me off at my home and watched me walk up the drive to the backdoor. Later, she said, she was concerned that I might live alone and still need help; she said she checked the house later, got more worried when no one answered the door.
“My daughter had driven me to the hospital by then,” I explained to her.
“I was able to peak through a window and saw a pair of women’s shoes on the floor so I figured you had someone else around,” she said.
“I can’t thank you enough,” I said over and over.
“I’m Patti,” she said, holding out her hand.
Just then a young man, perhaps about 20, walked up. “This is my son,” she said, introducing me. So much for my rescuers being a “young couple;” they had to be at least 40. Well, they are still less than half my age; they must be young.
After more profuse “thank you’s” from me, I continued my walk home, pleased that the mystery of the lost minutes of my life could now be explained.
More and more in these contentious times it is important to know that people are still capable of being kind and helpful. They did not care whether I voted the same way they did; they did not care what religion I practiced or whether I was religious at all; they did not care that I was of a different race. Their only concern was for the safety of an old man who was in trouble. Their actions are proof that humanity is still a reality – and it may be what restores us to a better world in the long run. – Ken Germanson, June 13, 2014