Some Kind Of Hero
Some things have become ingrained I guess. In 2003 or 2004, Julie and I visited my Mom in Las Vegas over Christmas.
I had another back surgery in ’99 and was still using a cane to walk. Not a lot, but sometimes.
Mom had taken us to Lake Meade to show how much the lake had fallen due to the many years of drought. You could read the water levels on the surrounding cliffs and there was a whole lot of boat dock with very little water under it. Probably 80-90 feet of dock was just barely floating.
Then it seemed to get deep pretty fast. It went from 2-3 feet to 6-10 feet deep in a matter of 12-15 foot in distance.
And everywhere you looked there were fish around the dock, ducks on the water, and people feeding both. Adults, children of all ages, were walking up and down the length of the dock throwing crackers, cookies, and anything else to watch the fish try to beat the ducks to the food. It was kinda funny.
The long drive in the front seat of Mom’s mini-van had given me some problems so the dock walk was good at stretching my legs and back.
As we were walking a family group caught my eye. The mother was 7-8 months pregnant, there was a 3-4 year old girl feeding the ducks, and a 4-5 year old boy feeding the fish.
The boy was bending over, not squatting and that’s when I noticed there was no bottom rail where the family was standing.
I stopped and was about to say something when the boy toppled into the water, head first, and he went right under.
The little girl would be a danger if she tried to help, way too young to know what happened and mother was way too pregnant to do anything. Besides, the mother was wiping the little girl’s nose and nobody was watching the boy.
The boy’s head broke the water, he took a big gulp that was part air but mostly water, and went down again.
There was no thought or decision, I dropped straight on my stomach, drove both arms into the water, and just barely caught hold of the boy’s hands. If I had tried to kneel or just use one hand, I don’t think I would have gotten a hold of him.
Again, without kneeling or raising to my feet, I jerked him up and out of the water and onto the dock where he promptly puked out a gutful of water, duck shit, and fish crap, and let out a wail of “Mommy, my socks are wet”. Mommy looks up, she hadn’t even seen he was in the water. Now she starts screaming “what happened? What happened?”. My mother, always ready with the right words of comfort, makes the snarky comment, “Don’t worry, my son was here to pull him out.”
Julie knelt by the woman, told her what happened and that he was OK.
I stood up and felt a “pop” in my back, and then the pain. Before anything else happened I suggested she have him checked because the water looked pretty bad and he probably swallowed some. The mother continued drying him off, ignored me, and sent the girl to “Go get your father”. The little girl took off at a sprint and I suggested we go back to the car. Julie and my Mom looked at me so I said “I blew my back I’m gonna be in some real pain, pretty soon.” They nodded and we began to slowly walk back to the car. Slowly, because I was already being racked with back spasms and wasn’t all that sure I’d make it to the car.
Daddy and little girl, and another child still in diapers walked past us without a glance.
Both my Mom and Julie, for once, agreed the parents were jerks and should maybe watch TV instead of making more kids than they can watch.
Me, I went home, took a handful of pain killers, and woke up the next day.
Some hero, didn’t even go out feasting.