Bryn, Joe and I saw our Sunday dinner guests to the door, and I commented: “It’s going to be dark very soon; let's take you-know-who to the beach for a little romp before that happens...”
The evening was glorious- no breeze, cool, with autumn’s distinctive fragrance scenting the air.
“Excellent plan,” Joe agreed.
We hopped into our car and made our way toward Grand View Parkway. Just as we passed the local bakery, though, I distinctly saw a lady stagger, then tip backward, her face radiating alarm and confusion as we flashed by in the half-light.
Time seemed to tick by in slow motion.
I registered that she was slim and older- maybe late 50s- tidily dressed in jeans and a crisp white shirt and sweater, and definitely in trouble. Staggering backwards against the lamppost she flailed her arms, but then awkwardly slid down toward the pavement before gently toppling backward. Her legs remained in the street. One hand clutched her large purse.
“Joe, STOP! That lady we passed has fallen: she’s lying on the pavement back there! It’s only just happened! Go back!”
By now it was nearly dark; I peered out the van window, but could barely see her. Joe immediately U-turned and drove back he way we’d come.
“There!’ I pointed. She lay quietly on her back, legs in the street, body on the walk. What was happening??
I leaped out and ran over to her while Joe parked the big van.
She looked up at me, confused, but not alarmed.
“How can I help you?" I asked quietly, kneeling by her side. She stared up at me for a bit and then, slowly and shakily, said, “I need to visit a bathroom but I don’t know where it is.”
“Shall I call an ambulance? I know there’s a bathroom at the nearby hospital.”
This reply confused her. “It’s not here? It should be here. I don’t know where I am; I think I’m lost. Am I lost?”
“Absolutely not. We’ve found you, and know exactly where you are. You’re safe and just resting, but it’s dark. Bathrooms can be harder to find when it’s dark... Help is coming. We’ll wait with you until then.”
She nodded, not completely comprehending. Trying to assemble her scrambled thoughts, she inquired again if I would show her the bathroom.
“Soon,” I said. “Just rest. We’ll take care of it. I know people who will show you where it is.”
Joe, a doctor, had dialed 911 by then, and had given the response team his assessment, and our location.
“She probably had a grand mal seizure. She’s confused, and sleepy, and her words are slow, and a bit slurred.” He listened, answered a few more questions and rang off.
“They’re on their way. Good thing you saw her go down, Dee. She could have lain here in the dark for some time. No one would notice her with the light gone...”
Less than two minutes later the ambulance pulled up: two young, calm medics took charge. Oh, we were glad to see them! Thank heaven for the ability to effectively communicate!
We carried on to the beach in the lovely, calm evening, and enjoyed Bryn’s pleasure as she moved up and down in the cool sand, sniffing the news.
It was such a comfort to know the lady was in the best of hands.
These sorts of situations are quiet reminders of just how fragile and tenuous life can be. We hugged, each knowing the other’s thoughts about that.
Love the life one has, I mused; pick out and savor the little, special parts of it that often go unnoticed, and admire how everything seems to interconnect somehow, to make existence better, or worse...