While cleaning out more stuff from my mom’s house, I came across a picture that I had taken on a long past July 6, my dad’s 91st birthday.
My mom and dad are sitting close together in two chairs and are holding hands. He has a somewhat pensive look on his face and she is smiling at him. They had been married over 58 years. In the picture, one can see bandages on my mom’s arms, elbows and knees.
On July 3, about 2 hours after I left their house to take care of their errands, my cell phone rang. It was my dad. “Call 911. It’s your mom, she’s down in the back yard in the gravel. It’s in the sun. I don’t know how long, nor do I know why. If I call them, they’ll tie me up with questions I can’t answer. I’m going out to see what I can do. Did you get that?” After I said yes, there was a click as he hung up the phone.
Summer daytime air temperatures are routinely over 115F degrees and ground temperatures exceed 150F degrees. This was the case on July 3.
I called 911, gave them the address and told them what dad had told me, along with mom’s age (86 years old) and known medical problems. I then told them that my dad, a retired US Marine and retired paramedic, said he was going out to help my mom. I added that he was almost 91 years old, under hospice care for heart failure and that his heart ejection fraction was under 8%.
I got to their house in about 5 minutes. The police and two paramedic units, one for mom and one for dad, were already there. Mom was on a gurney and they were preparing her for transport to the nearby hospital. She had what appeared to be 3rd degree burns on her elbows, arms and knees. They had dad sitting in a chair in the shade and he was in tears. He said that opening the doors had used up all his strength and that he had to crawl most of the way to my mom. He said he did the best he could, but he was worried that it wasn’t enough.
The paramedics said that when they got there, the garage door and door into the house were both open, and dad was in the back yard, trying to shade her with his body. They went on to say he was using the water from a hose to cool the gravel under my mom.
A few days later, he died of heart failure, but he had accomplished what he had set out to do. He saved mom.
It took 9 months, but her burns healed completely.
I would like to believe I have as much love as my dad showed on that day.