I sometimes envy my wife, Sylvia, who volunteers on the local Rescue Squad where we live up in the mountains of western North Carolina. She’s an EMT. Yesterday her Rescue Pager went off just after we finished a three-mile walk. This call involved a thirteen-year-old boy having seizures, possibly caused from complications stemming from cerebral palsy.
Though I’m not an EMT, the paramedics generally don’t mind if I help them lift a patient onto a stretcher. However, upon arriving at the scene I noticed there were so many rescue workers that I wouldn’t have been able to have gotten inside the house, even if they had needed me.
It was at that moment, that I noticed two little girls with blonde hair sitting on the cement porch outside. I wondered what this must look like to them. The boy inside with the seizures was probably their brother and they had probably seen his body writhing and twitching. What must they have thought? And to top off this shock, their driveway, lawn, and neighborhood were filled with police cars, fire trucks and two ambulances, not to mention several other rescue vehicles as well. If you could have seen them, you would have to agree with me; they looked like they might be needing a little company.
It’s sometimes hard to know just how to start up a conversation with children, but these two little dolls were ready. All I had to do was ask them, “What’s yer kitty’s name?? I was ready to tell them about my cat Dusty, but once I asked that first question, I hardly got a word in edgewise for the rest of our ‘conversation’. They both lit into this little visit like tag-team wrestlers. When one was out of breath, the other picked up with the story.
The girls, Cindy age-10 and Christy age-5 answered my question in unison, “her name’s Tabitha.”
Christy continued, “She jest showed up on are porch one day and we fed her mehck.”
And jumping in at that point, Cindy added, “Shay wawdn’t go away after that”
“They’s othuh cats what comes around and plays with huh sometimes,” chimed in Christy.
“Yeah, one big ole black cat with his beady eyes was a sittin’ over in that tree yonder one night when I looked out my wender. An I was sort uh scairt” put in Cindy.
While the rescue workers did their job inside with the girls’ brother, I listened to all sorts of cat tales, some true, and some added to. These girls were quite the storytellers. They continued with stories of other pets, then mentioned their other three sisters and their brother who had had a seizure or two before. As we sat there petting their orange-striped cat, Tabitha, the minutes flew by.
Finally the paramedics were ready to go. My wife came out of the house and asked the girls if that was their brother. They said, “Yes, that’s Tommy He gonna be all right??
“Well, I guess so, because there goes the ambulance, and he isn’t on it,” my wife replied.
As Sylvia headed to our car, I told the girls good-bye. I encouraged them to take good care of Tabitha, and their brother Tommy.
I’ll always remember talking to those two little gals. I learned a lot, a lot about Tabitha, yes, but I also learned that sometimes you don’t have to be a rescue worker to help someone. And sometimes it isn’t so much what you say that makes the difference. Sometimes it’s how you listen that counts.
Story by Ron Reese