Post 83 Genuine Gratitude

 Charlie was 91 years old and had been widowed some ten years earlier.   Determined to retain his independence, he lived alone with his memories.    Keeping himself in good

shape, he had learned to cook simple meals, had mastered the washing machine and kept his home clean and tidy; he knew that was his wife Marjory would have expected.    He lived for his garden where he spent much of his time; it was his pride and joy, a place where he could lose himself in memories of 60 happy years of marriage.

His son, who had emigrated to Australia as soon as he left college, had suggested that his father should employ a carer, but even though Charlie

could have afforded it, he declined; he value his independence too much.   He did however appreciate the help afforded him by Linda, a mother of three and part-time supermarket assistant, who lived across the road.   She kept a weather eye open for him, popping in most days to check all was well and by helping occasionally with any shopping or odd jobs that Charlie would have found difficult.

One scorchingly hot day in August, Linda glanced out of her bedroom window and was alarmed to see Charlie lying face down in his garden.   Dashing across the road, she found him unrousable though she was able to feel a pulse and saw that he was still breathing.   She dialed 999, then dashed to seek the help of a retired doctor who lived two doors down the road.   They were joined by a midwife who chanced to be passing and as the three of them waited anxiously for the ambulance to arrive, Charlie started to move.    He mumbled some words which were unintelligible.

As Charlie’s conscious level improved a fraction, it became obvious he was greatly distressed that he wasn’t able to speak – there was clearly something of great importance to him that he wished to communicate.     He started to stir, then gradually opened his eyes.   He gazed up, focussing intently on Linda but though trying desperately; he remained unable to make himself understood.   As a result, he became restless and agitated.

‘It’s obviously something very important; perhaps there’s a pan on the stove or something he’s left in the oven,’ Linda suggested.    ‘I’ll go and check in the house.’

Before Linda returned, the paramedics arrived and to everyone’s relief, especially that of

the retired doctor, they took charge of the situation.    They decided that Charlie needed to be taken to hospital and stretchered him into the ambulance.     It was only as the ambulance was driving away, blue light flashing, that Charlie managed to articulate the words he was so eager to express.

‘If I’m passing away,’ he whispered, words slurred through lopsided lips, ‘there’s a present for Linda in the cupboard in the back bedroom.’

The paramedic smiled and took hold of Charlie’s hand, ‘Then I will make sure that she gets it,’ she said.

                                                   Retold from a true story from Dr John Taylor

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