The old man and the old woman had spent the pandemic year home alone. With little work to do around the house and few community events to enjoy, their lives did not seem very full. The old woman regularly complained that they never did anything except sit around the house.
With the arrival of spring weather, one night the old man suggested they go for a walk.
The old woman complained that the old man walked too fast and that he would need to go slower for her. Slowing down, the old man walked one step behind and to the side of the old woman so she could set the pace.
They talked as they walked and it was somewhat enjoyable for both of them. Having spent the winter sitting in recliners and not getting much exercise, it felt good to be out and moving again. They talked about the things they were going to do in the upcoming year, hoping to make up for lost time with family and friends. They traveled more than half a mile, much further than they usually go.
Looking ahead, they watched a car pull onto the gravel road and drive in their direction. The old man suggested they step off the road so they would not be a hazard to the car.
There was a field entrance further ahead, so they picked up their pace a bit to make it off the road in time. It was difficult for the old woman to go much faster. The old man was now walking next to her as they turned into the driveway.
After taking a few steps off the road, the old woman appeared to stumble and had the old man not been close to her she would have fallen. He grabbed her arm. The old woman was trying to say something, but her speech was not clear. Her right leg and arm did not seem to be moving as they should. As they made it about 10 feet into the driveway, the old woman slumped to the ground, bringing the old man with her.
The old man knew something was not right but had no idea what was going on. The old woman sat on the ground somewhat awkwardly. After a few moments, she was able to catch her breath and told the old man not to leave her and go for help. She did not want to die all alone on a gravel road.
The old man was now quite alarmed. The old woman continued talking but her words came out all garbled. He wondered if she had had a stroke.
He now regretted not taking his phone with him when they left the house. They did not usually take their phones when they walked because they did not want to be interrupted. Perhaps, due to their age, they should have had some sort of emergency plan.
The old woman seemed to drift in and out of consciousness as she sat with her head against the old man’s shoulder. She acted as if she was asleep.
The old man’s mind was racing as to what to do. The old woman’s last words were not to leave her alone, but he was afraid that if he did not do something perhaps she would die here on the road. His heart pounded in his chest as he considered what to do. His blood pressure must have been sky high as he could feel his ears pounding.
In the midst of this dilemma, he could feel a pain rising in his chest. It started out dull at first and then quickly increased until it felt as if somebody was sitting on him. It was difficult to breathe.
He looked down the road to see if the car was still coming. It was not. Evidently it turned into one of the farmsteads down the road.
The pain just increased and he slipped into unconsciousness.
Early the next morning several people drove by in pickups. They were contractors getting an early start on the day. The two people sitting off the side of the road wearing dark coats did not receive their attention. It was only after the sun came up that someone drove by and spotted the old couple. The driver backed up to see if they needed assistance.
The old couple did not respond to the driver. Getting out of the car, the driver was shocked to see the old man and the old woman sitting there, both alive, but unable to move. They were quickly loaded up in the minivan and taken to the hospital.
Doctors confirmed the old woman had a stroke and the old man had experienced a heart attack. Unable to help each other, the old couple suffered through a cold night together, waiting for someone to find them. Those treating them thought it was a miracle they both survived. Sharing a room in the hospital, their stay was relatively short as they recovered and soon found themselves back at home.
After a few weeks, the old couple decided they would start taking walks again. On the first day the old woman said she could not go very fast and so the old man decided he would walk right next to her. They had a pleasant walk and only paused for a few moments as they passed the driveway where they had spent the night.
Over the spring and summer months the walks continued. Each time the old man remembered to bring his phone and his favorite walking stick. The old woman also brought her phone because she worried the old man would forget his.
Sometimes in life you have the opportunity to do something over or have a second chance. The old man and the old woman were grateful for their second chance at life and resolved to not put off doing things that were important. They knew life could change unexpectedly.
The old man and the old woman had several children who encouraged them to act responsibly for their age. The old man had just turned 60 and the old woman had just turned 58.
Bob Dunaway and Associates offer estate and retirement planning. Gary Johnson can be reached at 563-927-4554 or by emailing him at email@example.com.