Return to Duty (with Kindness)

Diane Kopylow October, 2015

George and I love the ocean as much as we love the mountains, the desert, and the surrounding beaches marking our separation in existence. For this reason, we frequent all of those places as much as possible. Our favorite beach is one called Jalama, perhaps you have read about it before in several of my posts.

This particular trip to Jalama was unusual in that it wasn’t so much the kindness from others that impressed us. It actually was the kindness that George gave to another this time. I am learning kindness can be a very universal concept given the opportunity to rear its beautiful head.

Sunset was beginning sweep us into evening. George decided he would take our dog, Toby, for one last walk around the RV Park before total darkness would make it a more challenging event. I was getting ready to start dinner, sipping wine to the play of the waves. We were on the highest tier of the campground, so from our window I had a beautiful view of the water, beach and other campers lighting their campfires, preparing their dinners and enjoying each other.

Much later, George was gone for an unusual amount of time for a simple dog walk. I looked out our window to see if Toby had gotten involved playing with another dog on the beach. Nope! I looked far away at the campground store, thinking George may have stuck up yet another fishing conversation with its owner. Nope! My eyes trailed along the blacktopped roads leading to others’ campsites. No luck, at least the ones I could see. Often the big RV rigs have one if not several awnings unfurled which makes spying on our neighbors no longer an option. 

Another hour passed. I am beginning to get seriously concerned. Just about the time I decided to go out and hunt them down, I saw George and Toby walking up the road to the top tier. 

“You’re not going to believe what just happened, ” George began as he stepped into our rig.

Questioning, I responded, “You were gone for such a long time…”

He sat down and began:

“I was walking on the second tier and I noticed an older man lying lifeless beside his rig. Several older people had gathered around him but no one was doing anything to help. It appeared they all were waiting for someone else to step forward.

FYI: Insert. George is a retired firefighter.

“I walked over to the man . I knelt down and felt to see if I could feel a pulse or hear him breathing. I asked if any of them knew how to do CPR. They all just shook their heads. I told them I needed someone first of all to take care of my dog. Then I went to work on the gentleman. While I was administering CPR, I told one neighbor to go and inform the park rangers we had an emergency, probable heart attack, and to call for an ambulance immediately. More people were beginning to gather, concerned or worse, curious. A few minutes later, the ranger arrived and began to help me. He informed me a helicopter had been ordered, but for some reason it had gotten cancelled. The fire department from the closest town (twenty miles on a winding road) was on its way. Finally, they arrived and took him away (back on a winding road).”

“Was there a wife?” I asked. 

“I don’t know. I was too busy to notice.”

You would have thought I would notice an emergency vehicle escort itself into the park with my slightly less than eagle eyes and harboring curiosity, but I did not. Perhaps it was meant to be that way. George was gone a long time… I may have panicked seeing that.

The next morning we checked with the ranger to hear if they had heard any news about the gentleman. They had not.

To this day, we often wonder if the old guy had made it, if his wife was left alone to try to take care of their rig. It was a lesson for us to ponder and probably every other retired couple at the park that evening.

I was proud of my husband that day, for stepping up, doing the responsible thing, taking charge. 

We hope his kindness was the life-giving kind.

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