From Saving Lives to Almost Losing His Own: Stories About My Dad

Willow Burkholder, Staff Writer

Everyone has their own stories to tell, but when you see a modest-looking man who delivers food to different stores for a living and is always ready to crack jokes, you may not think that deeply into it. Surely, someone that happy couldn’t have lived through the things he did and be “normal” about it. However, looks can be deceiving. 

Being a young man in the 70s, my father did a lot of things that most parents would look down upon (his were no different). One of which just so happened to be driving far too fast around an area with many different cliffs to fall off of, along with many different things to crash into if you didn’t watch what you were doing. Which of course, is exactly what happened. 

“I felt a sudden stop, and before I even knew what happened, the airbags went off and we jolted forward,” he says, “I thought I had already died. I thought when I stepped out of the car I would be in heaven.” Thankfully though, that wasn’t the case. If almost losing his life once wasn’t enough fun for one night, it almost happened again. 

After realizing that he was not, in fact, in heaven, he and his two other friends got out of the car and tried to find some help. They eventually stumbled upon a house, my father running up to knock on the door himself. After he did so, he found himself face-to-face with the barrel of a gun. 

Although, all was well in the end, eventually the man let them all inside and explained that there were a lot of trespassers and he “didn’t want to take any chances.” 

However, that isn’t the only near death experience he’s had. “Me and my girlfriend at the time wanted to go camping,” he said, “so we found a nice area and set up. I told her I wanted to go for a hike and that I’d be back soon.” Of course, being in the woods includes seeing the same trees over and over, which ultimately is what led him to getting lost and eventually panicking. “I started running around, I was freaking out., and before I knew it, I felt air all around me; it took a few seconds to register that I was falling.” 

Falling through branches and thorns is already unpleasant enough, but hitting your leg on a rock after falling from that height might arguably be worse. However, it’s what broke the fall. The best part? “I didn’t even break anything. Just got bruised and scratched really badly.” He found his way back by slowly sliding the rest of the way down the cliff, and following a stream that eventually led him to somewhere he recognized. 

After looking death in the face on multiple occasions in the scariest of ways, saving someone’s life can sound almost miniscule compared to all of the things he’s gone through. Although, that wasn’t the case for him. 

While organizing his load of food in one of the stores he delivers to in Missouri, he glances at a man going to the customer service desk, not really batting an eye at this seemingly normal situation. That was until the man fell backwards out of nowhere. 

“I remember rushing over with Jim (a fellow vendor) to try and help. I started doing chest compressions, I didn’t have any experience with CPR, I just did what I saw people do on TV.” While doing chest compressions on the man, Jim was blowing air into his mouth, which had turned blue by this point. “After about three good chest compressions, I felt him start to breathe on his own,” he said. “It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt; feeling someone’s life flood back into them.” The man had a history of drug abuse, and had had a heart attack because of it. He eventually got the help he needed, though. 

“I like to think I did a lot to help, but it was mostly Jim blowing air into him,” he said, laughing. “I guess I really should have listened to the “Don’t try this at home, this is done by professionals’ warning on TV.”’