An hour ago, just seconds after posting the article called “Arrows in the Hand of God” I heard the dog begin a frenzy of barking, which usually means there is someone at the door (the doorbell rings upstairs, I work downstairs and can’t hear it). I assumed it was the FedEx guy bringing me the package I missed out on yesterday when I nipped out of the house at an inopportune moment. Opening the door I found my next-door neighbour standing there – an elderly man who lives with his daughter but is home alone during the day. He was clutching a couple of bottles of medication and holding a cloth over his mouth. He croaked in a voice that was only barely audible, “Take me…to…hospital.” I called Aileen and turned to grab my wallet and keys. He began to sway on his feet and I could hear him wheezing and coughing. Aileen took one look at him and ran upstairs to call 911.
I helped him into the house and had him sit him down in my office, assuring him that an ambulance was coming. I had barely sat him down when his head fell back and his eyes rolled back. The wheezing stopped, which we knew was not good, as it showed that he was probably not breathing at all. Pressing firmly on his chest I could feel that his heart was still beating softly. We held his head upright and he began to wheeze just a little bit again. As I stood there holding his head I realized that I was praying for him.
Five minutes after Aileen had placed the call to 911, a truckload of firefighters pulled up in front of the house. It was followed about two minutes later by an ambulance. The FedEx truck was right behind them, but presumably when he saw where the emergency workers were heading and correlated that with the address on the package, he drove off in a hurry.
My daughter was screaming in fear, having no idea of what was going on, so my wife took the children upstairs and prayed with them.
I was hit with a barrage of questions.
“What’s his name?”
“I don’t know!”
“How old is he?”
“I don’t know!”
We have lived here for four years, but know him only as “The Mystery” – a name my son gave him shortly after we moved to the neighbourhood. We have no idea why he called him that, but the name stuck. He tried telling us his real name once, but between his accent and the fact that his name is, well, certainly not Anglo and exceedingly difficult to pronounce, we eventually gave up. Whenever we take the children out to play, he comes and stands on his step, and often gives them candy, stickers or balloons. They adore him.
The paramedics found that his heart was only barely beating and his breathing was nearly non-existant. They put him on oxygen and after mixing in some medication his breathing increased noticably and he regained some color. After a few minutes of working on him they lifted him onto a stretcher, still unconscious, wheeled him out and drove away. As they walked out one of the firemen said, “He’s lucky you were home. It would have been a lot different if you hadn’t been.”
We were now faced with the prospect of trying to tell his family what had happened. We found that while he had locked the front door on his way out, he had neglected to close the back door. The screen was locked, but screens are easily cut. My wife did so, popped the lock, and searched around until she found a phone number for his daughter. His daughter is on the way to the hospital to be with her father as I write this.
As the firefighters got into their truck, one of them, looked back at me and said, “Well that’s enough excitement for today, I guess.” And he’s right – that’s plenty for me.
Oh, and just as I was about to hit the “Post” button, the FedEx guy came back and dropped off a package containing (you guessed it) books.
I thank God that we live in a country with such rapidly-available medical care (which we complain about far too often). I’d ask for your prayers for The Mystery, that God would restore his health and use this to bring us opportunities to share His love with that family, whom I believe are practicing Hindus.