There’s an old Chinese proverb that says, “If you save a life, you are responsible for that life.”
But memory is a funny thing. Whether the fault lies in time, distance, or something else, the saver and the saved just might recall a life-saving incident differently … or not at all.
Case in point:
Some years ago, I was working at home when the phone rang.
Our physician neighbor had climbed atop his roof with his wireless phone when the ladder he’d used to get there toppled over.
Leaving him stranded without a way to get down.
‘Could you please help?’ he asked.
I rushed to his house, righted the ladder, and blushed through his exuberant praise while he climbed down to safety.
Now maybe that’s not really “saving a life.” I mean, he might have been able to find another way down or waited until his family got home to rescue him or even jumped (it wasn’t that far).
But he sounded a bit panicky. Perhaps he had to rush to the hospital.
Afterward, he and his family moved clear across the country, but they returned recently and stopped by for a brief visit.
When I asked him if he remembered the roof rescue, he gave me a blank stare.
I’d have thought one would feel indebted to have his life back. I know I do.
Decades ago I slipped on wet rocks at the Ft. Worth Water Gardens and was pulled to safety by my then-boyfriend (who probably doesn’t recall this either!).
Maybe it’s a gender thing and females’ memories are stronger?!
Anyway, what’s more important, I took away a valuable lesson — don’t get caught in an untenable situation without a rescue line.
Have you ever been the saver … or someone saved by another?
Not a life-save moment, no, but on one occasion a few years back my brother was staying with me for the weekend when I accidentally badly sliced my finger while cutting a melon. He rushed in and stopped the bleeding, bandaged me up, cleaned up the kitchen (cut the melon!) and then pampered me with tea and sympathy till the shock wore off. I mentioned it to him a couple of months ago and he doesn’t remember it at all! So I guess maybe yes, perhaps women do remember these things more…
Yikes, that sounds painful! Any time there’s blood involved, there’s a need for somebody to step in and save! Glad your brother was around, and may I congratulate your mum on raising a handy young man?! Gee, cleaning up you, the mess, and making tea? He’s a jewel!!
Haha! I shall tell him you said so!
How long a comment can I leave? I was rescued from our balcony where I was stranded with my 5 year old who closed the locked door behind us as we walked out. Complicated by the fact that my 80 pound Doberman was on the other side of the locked door. My good friends neighbors husband was home but he was terrified of my friendly but protective Doberman. So we had to wait until his wife came home who shared a mutual love with my Doberman. A long wait with a 5 year old.
I once threw my car keys and a leash I was returning into the homes mailslot. My car was locked with my phone in it. It was a complicated save.
And so many, many, more. I have no idea if my hero’s remember saving me or not but I sure remember their efforts. I rescued our elderly neighbor from a ladder he should never have been on—and promised not to tell his wife, if he promised to never climb again. He is long gone but it was our secret for a lot of years—the twinkle in his eye told me he remembered.
I rescued a small child from a lunging dog at our local petsmart. Instinct on my part. I just moved automatically. The parents still send me a Christmas card. The kid is doing great and so is their dog.
I think your old neighbor must suffer from dementia. Who forgets that kind of story! Not me, that for sure.
So glad to hear you and little Cole were rescued from the balcony — what an ordeal! You must be GOOD at entertaining a wee one (hope he had a Lego or two with him, ha!)
How kind of you to rescue your neighbor from the ladder and the little one at the pet store! And to still get a Christmas card from the parents? Lagniappe, I tell ya!
No life saving events in my life, but I know what you mean about people having different recollections of an event. My siblings and I have had several of these, and we still can’t believe some of the “important” stuff one or more of us remember that the rest don’t.
HaHa, that’s so true about siblings! My sis and I can’t agree on lots of things for that very same reason. She says she has a memory like an elephant; I counter that I was trained as a journalist. Probably there’s a bit of truth to go around for both of us.
No saves or being saved. I can’t imagine why the guy forgot. maybe he didn’t think in terms of “life” save. who knows.
Since he’s a doctor, I suppose he didn’t think saving him from the roof came anywhere near as close as he probably did on a daily basis! That said, it surprised me a bit when he had no recollection of this at all.
Well, let’s see. I’ve gone into the water twice at work. I wasn’t in any danger of drowning, but I was soggy and cold, for sure. I wasn’t particularly hurt, either, so I could help with my own “rescue.” Oh — and there was that time I was hit on the freeway, and a nice man stopped to check on me and call the ambulance. My car was totaled, I lost some teeth, but otherwise suffered no damage.
I’ve helped plenty of other people, but I don’t think any of the incidents rose to the level of “saving” someone. A lot of those incidents involve saving boats as much as anything. I’m good at turtle saving, though. I’ll always stop to pluck injured turtles from the road, or help one get across. Did you know you often can fiberglass broken turtle shells back together? True story!
To this day, Linda, I’m grateful for the people who came to my rescue last July when I totaled my car. Not that they weren’t just doing their job, but that they went above-board in kindness!
I don’t think I could stand toppling over into the water like you did. Of course, water isn’t my favorite “activity,” and drowning would be a horrible way to die. No, I didn’t know that about the turtles’ shells — I always learn so much from my brilliant friends!
I have definitely been on the saved end and was soooooooooo grateful.
You might remember this because I posted about it on my blog many years ago. I was trapped in an elevator (with two bags of groceries, in July, on a day when the temperature was over 100 degrees) for over an HOUR. I was saved by the Philadelphia Fire Department. And you have no idea how HAPPY and THANKFUL I was when they finally got the elevator door open and lifted me out from in inside.
I will NEVER forget that as long as I live.
Have a FAB weekend, my friend!
P.S. Perhaps your neighbor felt embarrassed by being saved and wanted to wipe it from his memory. Maybe a male ego thing?
Ron, I remember this incident, and oh my, how frightened you must have been! It’s bad enough being stuck in an elevator just to go up or down a few floors; being confined there — with spoiling groceries — for an hour or more must have been excruciating! No wonder you were thrilled at escaping!
Claustrophobia runs in my family, and I’m certain some of my relatives — faced with your situation — would have passed out completely! Something like that would certainly stick in your memory.
You might be right about his wanting to forget the roof rescue. I find it hard to believe that anybody could completely wipe something like that away, though!
It’s almost the weekend — enjoy! xx
I don’t recall ever saving anyone’s life. However, I have to laugh over your neighbor. Who forgets being stranded on the roof?!
I’m with you, Audrey. Even if he consciously tried to wipe out the memory, it seems to me he’d have smiled a bit sheepishly when I brought up the subject. As it was, his face was a complete blank, and he insisted on my telling him the whole story. And afterward, he didn’t seem to want to believe me!! Strange.
Maybe he was drunk. Smiles. So strange, Debbie. Lol
Nah, he’s not a drinker! Nor does he have dementia or senility. I guess it just didn’t register with him. Funny the things we remember!
Wow, Debbie…you’d think he would remember that. Well, sigh…I find I don’t remember many ordinary events, mainly just the bigger ones from my past which makes it hard to pull things from my memory to write about. I have never saved anyone or been saved, but my significant other saved his friend with the heimleich maneuver which he learned on a TV show. He was staying with the friend and his young family during his early days in California. This ended up being rather humorous because the couple had wanted to stop their 2 young girls from watching TV. I wrote about it in a story called The Great TV Debate. Trust me though, I wouldn’t forget being roof stranded for sure!
I’m not exactly afraid of heights, but I sure wouldn’t want to be stuck atop a house without an escape route! I guess the good thing was, he took a portable phone with him (probably waiting for a call from the hospital). This was in the days before everybody had cell phones, so I was a bit surprised when he called. If it had been me up there, you’d have heard me clear across the state, ha!!
Hmmm… let’s see … I guess my life wasn’t really in danger, but I’ve always remembered the police officer who showed up at my house to shoo away a raccoon who had taken up residence in my garage in the middle of the day. The raccoon showed no signs of wanting to leave and I was afraid to confront him myself. Our city only had part-time animal control at the time, so law-enforcement took on a new meaning for my rescuer that day!
And I have been a saver as well, being an organ donor. 🙂
I’d have remembered that raccoon, too, Tee! No way would I want to evict a wild animal who didn’t want to go away! And yes, I remember you blogging about the organ donation — you rock, girl!!
I don’t remember ever saving anyone or being saved, but I can’t imagine that if I had ever been stuck on a roof, I would forget the person who helped get me off of it.
HaHa, right, huh?! That’s what I thought, and I was wrong! Maybe he wasn’t afraid of heights??
When my children were small we spent lots of time each summer at the local pool. The pool is designed to be like a pond in that it goes from zero-depth to 4 feet deep in a gradual slope – great for little kids as long as they don’t wander out past their ability to walk back to the edge. One day my then 6-year-old daughter was splashing about. I was standing a few feet away with one eye on her and one eye on her older brother. Suddenly there was a flurry of activity in the vicinity of my daughter. It turns out she had noticed a little girl (about 2) who was under the water, flailing, obviously unable to get her footing. My daughter scooped her up just as the lifeguards blew their whistles and jumped into action. The little girl was fine. The lifeguards had some stern words for her mom about keeping a better eye on her children. It was a bit sobering and sure gave my daughter a life-long, healthy respect for the water.
I remember too many incidences of water rescue from my own childhood days, Mo. Pools can be scary places when you’re afraid of the water but want so badly to hang out with your friends! I’m glad the little girl was okay; you’ve got a quick-thinking daughter, well done!
How could he not remember?! I’m inclined to say it is a male thing… My husband remembers things but my brothers remember nothing! It’s a memory of convenience, I think… 😉
I think you’re onto something! I was totally stunned when he didn’t remember it. After all, it wasn’t that long ago and even if he’d had other things on his mind, who could forget the panic you’d feel at being high up without a ladder?!!
Yes and yes. Two that come to mind – once I was plucked from the river I was tubing in (well I HAD been tubing but I’d fallen off and was tumbling beneath the surface. A strong man pulled me out and through my choking and catching my breath – he was gone. And once, when I was a teen, babysitting a 2 year old boy, while warming his dinner, I noticed he was quiet. He was never quiet. When I peeked around the corner he was bright red and bug eyed. Instinct and panic set in for me, I held him upside down and hit him hard between the shoulder blades and out flew a Fischer Price toy – one of those little people exactly the size of a toddler’s esophagus.
And I know on more than one occasion I’ve been saved by angels or intuition – almost a voice that tells me to slow down on the freeway, to travel a different route, to leave someone toxic.
Barb, I love your last comment for I, too, have been saved by angels (especially on the interstate!) I think we’d all shudder if we knew how many perils we’d been saved from. Glad your two instances turned out so well!