Gone Fishing in my Slippers
Updated: Jul 4, 2020
I was tired and decided to skip the children’s Christmas concert at church that night. “I’ll bake butterscotch squares while you’re gone.” Clad in my pyjamas, I tossed the words over my shoulder while assembling my husband’s favourite dessert. “And don’t forget to pick up pizza on your way home."
No response. Odd. I was sure he had been standing behind me a minute ago. Had he already left? I turned and was immediately concerned. The grey-green pallor of his skin barely had time to register when, straight backward he fell, stiff as a soldier. I screamed. And screamed again. Please God help me.
Dropping my wooden spoon, I sprinted forward as fast as my open-backed slippers would take me. But I was too late. As the back of his head hit the corner of a small Formica table, the aged furniture collapsed under the pressure, sending a ten-gallon fish aquarium crashing to the floor. Warm water rushed at my legs and feet, along with fish, fluorescent-green plants, and a Davey Jones Locker sign. Alarmed, I stared at my unconscious husband, unable to come to grips with the sudden trauma. When seconds passed and he didn’t rouse, I feared the worst. Please God, no. His head and shoulders lie in a puddle of water, on piles of shattered glass and iridescent stones—all domino effects of medical distress. Tentacles of panic swirled around me, attempting to choke out all rational thought.
Call 911. Hands shaking, I punched in the numbers. What was my address? In the middle of stumbling through the emergency responder’s questions, my husband opened his eyes. Cautious joy galloped through me as I hung up with the dispatcher. “Don’t move! You’ll cut yourself.” Baffled and confused, he was having no part of my instructions. I helped him to a nearby chair and ran my hand over the back of his head. No swelling. No gash. No blood anywhere. How could that be?
“What happened?” he mumbled.
“You passed out and fell against the aquarium. An ambulance is on the way.” I tried my best to console him, but his eyes grew large as he surveyed the damage.
“Save the fish.”
Huh? Did he not understand what had just happened? To his body and my heart? “Don’t worry about the fish. We can buy new ones.”
“No. I need to save them.” He clambered to his feet.
Seriously? “Fine. I’ll catch your fish if you promise to stay in that chair.” Thankfully, he complied. Although I was not looking forward to the squeamish task, I’d do anything to make him happy. As I sloshed around in ankle-deep water, dodging broken glass, trying to catch the final flopping finned escapee, a ridiculous thought ran through my brain.
I can’t believe I’m fishing in my kitchen.
Mission accomplished. Goldie, Spot and Sparkles darted around my big yellow popcorn bowl. A plastic colander covered the top in case they jumped out and I had to start all over again. These were not normal-sized goldfish but fish that had been rescued from our backyard pond to save them from becoming fish-sickles, (my husband’s own words) during the winter months. I almost laughed at the absurdity of it all. Except I felt more like crying.
Check his blood sugar. I sloshed to the cupboard, found the glucometer, and pricked his finger. Normal. I heard a whoop in the driveway accompanied by bright red flashes on the foyer wall. Four paramedics hurried inside with their equipment. After a quick medical assessment, they walked him to the ambulance, suggesting I follow in my car. Instead, I waded around my kitchen in a dazed stupor—staring in bewilderment at the mess. Not only did I need practical help, I needed emotional. But the closest family members were two hours away. Faye and Ryan came to mind. I phoned the young couple, friends from church, who assured me they were on their way. I picked up jagged shards of glass and dropped them in the garbage pail. I couldn’t risk them getting cut. I finally changed out of my wet clothes and soggy slippers. My hands shook as I clutched the wheel. Was it even safe for me to be driving? When I got to his emergency cubicle, my husband was sitting up in bed.
“I’m sorry for putting you through this.” The heartfelt words tumbled over his lips, along with a tender expression that made me want to break down and sob. At a time like this, he was worried about me? The doctor pulled back the curtain and informed us that all tests were normal. But her next sentence stabbed fear in my chest. It could have been a faint, or it’s possible that his heart just stopped.
Worry gripped me anew. Could I have lost my husband tonight? Could I still? After instructions about coming back for a Holter monitor in a few days, we were discharged. That night in bed, nerves on high alert, I listened often to make sure he was still breathing. I couldn’t shake the idea that there was great significance in this accident.
Tomorrow would be our fortieth wedding anniversary. The number forty was often significant in the Bible. Moses was on Mount Sinai forty days and forty nights as God gave him the Ten Commandments. It rained forty days and forty nights while Noah and his family were safe in the Ark. The Israelites wandered forty years in the wilderness before they reached the Promised Land. Was God trying to tell me something?
Twelve days later, with the entire family in attendance, I revelled in the most memorable Christmas of all. Not only had I experienced the steadfast love of family and friends through this crisis, I knew without a doubt that God had given me a precious gift—my husband.
From this day forward, I will cherish each day, not sweat the small stuff, and love like there are no more tomorrows.
(This year we will celebrate our 45th anniversary).