It seems my sister, my son (10) and her son (four) were eating outside at the local Dairy Queen one afternoon.
My sister went back into the restaurant and asked my son to look after his cousin for a minute.
Right beside the boys, an elderly woman fell down as she exited the store with a tray of food. Everyone froze as the woman’s tray went flying and she collapsed.
She became as white as a sheet after the shock of the fall and started vomiting.
Still, none of the other patrons did anything but look on in disgust as the woman struggled to get up and clean herself — very embarrassed at the state she was in. After a period of inactivity on the part of the adults, my feisty young son (familiar with first aid from Cubs, Scouts) made sure his young cousin was facing away “so he wouldn’t see the blood,” reassured him he would be right back and ran to the woman’s side, telling her quietly “It’s OK” as she vomited.
He got napkins to help her clean up and gently rubbed her back, as I had done so often when he was ill. My sister came out of the restaurant and right into the action. She said my son’s obvious initiative and caring were impressive.
The woman was sent off by ambulance without ever hearing my son’s name.
However, across from her seniors’ care facility was a school where she regularly read to the early grade classes and she thought she remembered seeing my son in the hallway so she went to the principal’s office to look at the student pictures.
She found him and had him paged. My son, not unfamiliar with being called to the principal’s office, was a bit nervous when he arrived but immediately recognized the woman.
She explained that she had been having lunch away from her home when the incident occurred and wanted to thank him in person so she had tracked him down at the school.
She gave him a card and invited him to visit her across the street whenever he wanted to “chat with a cookie and milk after school.” He did — every week until she passed away several years later. They were “connected,” he told me. What a champ!
Colleen Crossley is a freelance columnist for the Tribune.