By Lethbridge Interfaith Network on April 21, 2021.
It was a chilly February morning in 2001 when my father left the mall after his routine walk to drive to the curling rink to meet the rest of his retired buddies. With known heart problems, he must have sensed something amiss, and quickly and haphazardly pulled into the first pull-out he came upon. Immediately he slumped over the steering wheel of the car motionless.
My dad had driven into the laneway beside the Street’s Alive Mission, and a few patrons sitting outside noticed his arrival. Sensing urgency they pulled him from his car-one began CPR; one ran to phone an ambulance; two removed their tattered jackets to provide warmth and comfort; the remaining men and women gave what they could: prayer and support. They called out exclamations of hope for him: “Come on man-you can do it.” “Hold on buddy. Breathe man. Stay with us.” “Help is on the way. You’re gonna be alright.” Little did they know that my dad was gone.
Days later, we found two worn jackets amongst my dad’s personal effects delivered to us by the paramedics. When we took them back to Street’s Alive Mission, they were immediately recognized as belonging to two gentlemen living there. At that time, we never met the good Samaritans that comforted my Dad in his last minutes.
Sixteen years later, I stepped into Street’s Alive Mission to volunteer with my co-workers in a company-wide Community Day of service. As I waited for others, the pastor invited me into his office to visit. As we chatted, I offered to tell him the story of my Dad.
As I began the story, he started to nod with great understanding and told me to go tell my story to Julie, one of the co-founders. I went into her office and began my story again.
She quietly said, “I remember.”
Our conversation immediately became very personal. Her son had been the one to pull my Dad out of the car as soon as it had finished its haphazard halt. Julie began CPR chest compressions, and another woman began mouth-to-mouth. The others called out encouragement and prayed.
After 16 years, I had been blessed to meet the woman who had tried to save my Dad’s life. We had been told that he had passed away immediately, and Julie confirmed that she knew this the minute she started working on him. But she did not give up and continued until paramedics arrived. As Julie embraced me in a farewell hug, she whispered an apology that she had not been able to save my Dad. I expressed my gratitude for what she and the others did for him in his moment of need.
I was taught through this experience the importance serving others, even strangers, in their time of need, just like the Good Samaritan.
National Volunteer Week is April 18-24, 2021. If you are looking for local service opportunities, go to VolunteerLethbridge.com or JustServe.org.
Submitted by Karen Iwaasa, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as part of a series of ongoing contributions from the Lethbridge Interfaith Network
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