Life Stories
How long does it take?

As I gingerly thread my way down the path of my seventh feline life, I am constantly reminded of the frailty and vulnerability of our allotted time. I am celebrating my fifteenth year of freedom from the ultimate time thief - television.

At the end of each day I enjoy a ritualistic walk around Deer Lake - rain, shine, day or night. It is a time to reflect on the challenges of work and plan the next day.

A recent experience rekindled a distant memory. Walking along the east end park I noticed a toddler playing at the shoreline - seemingly unattended. The closest individuals were a man and a women on separate benches thirty meters away. They denied association. At the swings, fifty meters from the toddler two young women were playing with several children. On questioning one admitted responsibility for the distant child. After some prodding she sauntered off to retrieve him.

As I continued my route along the boardwalk, my memory flashed back several decades. Our family was vacationing on the Island. My wife was midterm with our second daughter. Our first was a year and a half and full of unbridled energy. Standing waist deep in the ocean, she was playing tag with us as we stood two meters apart. After several headstrong rushes, she tagged my wife and turned back towards me, lost her balance, fell forward and rolled face up - under water! She did not struggle. A brief stream of bubbles erupted from her mouth and she began to glide to the bottom. In shocked disbelief I reached down and pulled her limp body to the surface. The time from healthy child to near death was less than five seconds! As we carried her to shore water cleared from her lungs and she promptly awoke from her brief nap. She did not cry and appeared unphased by her recent adventure. We were not as calm. She is now a medical specialist and has rewarded us with two amazing grand-daughters.

It is worth emphasizing that water of any depth is a potential life threatening hazard to young children - supervised or not. There is an old aviation adage - Learn from the mistakes of others as you will surely not live long enough to make them all yourself.

John Albrecht, MD.

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© 2004-2013 John Albrecht