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Glen D. Lovelace

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Member Since: Dec, 2001

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   Recent stories by Glen D. Lovelace
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The Old Woman And The Sea      Download this Full Story
By Glen D. Lovelace
Monday, July 15, 2002

Rated "G" by the Author.

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               Saved A Life Or. . .Interfered?



  My wife (Takako), our two youngest children, and I were spending a few days in early August (1988) at Hei Village on the Tango Peninsula, Sea of Japan.  There are three beautiful (and clean!) beaches in the area, each with its own invitation.

   Takako and the kids were to return to Osaka on the noon train from Mineyama City, which is about thirty minutes from Hei by car; we decided to spend the morning at Kyuso Beach where the sandy bottom gradually descends, making it the favorite for children who are still learning to swim and snorkel. My favorite, too!  Because Mr.Tanaka, who runs the only food and drink shop on that beach, knows us as "regular customers".
   We arrived just at 8:30 (the day was already hot, the sky a cloudless blue, the sea placid, etc.), unloaded the car, and were walking onto the beach when we saw Mr.Tanaka gesticulating and shouting. ("...at who?...Maybe his son...should be helping him open for business!")


"SOMEONE IS DROWNING!!! Takako yelled.

Overcome by dread--instantly, as by sorrow, compassion, fear--I scanned the sea...dread of death and dread of maybe having to go into deep water to help someone. (In my condition???)


"NO!" she yelled again:
"SHE'S RIGHT THERE...ON THE BEACH!"



   And so she was...half-way at least...on her stomach...gentle waves lapping her legs and hips. I didn't think...just ran to her (an old woman in farm clothes???), turned her over...saw her mouth and nose...covered with brownish foam...still slightly bubbling. Washed the foam and sand away, turned her back on her stomach, positioned her head sideways on her right arm, straddled her, and began artificial respiration...my excitement...my hands, "...don't crush her!"
   The first pressure brought a gush of water from her mouth, as did the next and the next and the next I don't know how many--until finally...oh, God!...she took a deep breath by herself, coughed, and began to breathe...still unconscious.
   Mr. Tanaka said it would be best to carry her to a shaded table. As he, my wife, and others lifted her, I saw she was clutching prayer beads in her left hand, and I thought, "Huh???"  Then I saw our children, swimming-rings around their hips, looking on in silent awe. I said, "Go ahead and play!" After a moment of hesitation they entered the sea and were soon splashing and laughing in merry abandon.
   I went over to "Tanaka's Bar", opened a can of ice-cold "breakfast" (no one else was there), sat on a stool, looked at the sky, the circling seahawk, the rocky, pine-covered islands, the happy children...and I wondered: "Have I saved a life or...interfered?"
   About 9:00 an ambulance arrived, then the police. Things around the woman looked confused enough, so I stayed apart. As they put her into the ambulance I couldn't see whether she was conscious or not. Then the police had some questions for us and, separately, for Mr. Tanaka. And he told us he told them that the woman (79 years old) came to the beach at about 8:15 as usual--to pray--greeted him, and went down to the water. He was busy opening shop, but he noticed that she had entered the sea--unusual--and was standing knee-deep in the water. When he glanced again he didn't see her at all, so he went down for a closer look and saw her floating. He went in, brought her to the beach, then began shouting instructions for his son to call an ambulance and the police. He said that members of her family (who got there just about the time she started breathing) told the police that she had high blood pressure.  It was "officially" concluded that she had fainted while standing in the sea.

  Two days later a big, black, air-conditioned Mercedes sedan, driven by a young policeman who spoke English rather well, came to take Mr. Tanaka and me to the police station in Amino City (the County Seat) where each of us were given a certificate of commendation. Mr.Tanaka told me (a couple of more days later) that the woman had not caught pneumonia and was beginning to move around slowly in her hospital room.

(Near the end of that month, near that same beach, I slipped on damp grass, fell on hard concrete, and broke--all the way through--my right leg,  just below the hip joint: an operation and four months on crutches!?)

(Posted in December, 2002)



(The 5/20/2003 review {below} was not posted by
Mark Rockeymore
but by David Arthur Walters,
ex-AD author--now writing at
http://downtownkansascity.blogspot.com )








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Reviewed by Mark Rockeymoore 4/27/2004
hmmm...questions, interference or heroic action? i assume by the way the story played out that it was heroic action. this piece was immediate, glen...your storytelling skills are masterful. just the right combination of rumination and description!
Reviewed by P. Michaels 11/28/2003

I don't think saving the old woman and later your broken leg were connected. It was just a coincidence that they happened in the same area. Surely, if she was clutching prayer beads, she wouldn't be trying to commit suicide. Nevertheless, you told the story well and left that thought open for questioning.
Reviewed by P. Michaels 5/20/2003
Glen,

You are my I-hero!

Please do not let the last paragraph worry you as there is no causal relation there for those who do not believe in the Devil.

LOL!

David
Reviewed by Nicole Lasher 5/14/2003
In my opinion, you had to save her just in case. If I were to "opt out" and really meant to, I would do it in a way that would preclude interference. Perhaps she was a little senile and lost awareness of where she was, and even if she someday chooses to untether, at least she will have a chance to go in a way that will not be so horrifying to others.
Reviewed by D. Fitzpatrick 2/27/2003
Good work! I hope your leg healed!
You have my sympathy!




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