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Hell and Heaven: A True Story

I had a heart attack Tuesday morning. Well, my medical records report it as ACS, acute coronary syndrome. Fortunately for me it was caught early enough so that there was no permanent damage to my heart. However, the artery was closed enough to warrant inserting a stent to increase the flow of blood to the heart muscle.

It is not the heart attack I want to tell you about. You need to know about that so I can tell you about the strange part.

Before Dr. Ware could insert the stent he needed to give me a sedative. The nurses wheeled me into the operating room, inserted a catheter in a vein in my right hand and prepared to infuse the sedative. The nurse inserted the needle in the catheter and just as she pushed the plunger I jerked my hand back and said no.

I climbed off the gurney and walked out of the operating room. Dr. Ware and his assistants just watched me walk out without attempting to stop me. I walked right through the waiting room past my wife and daughter and a couple of friends who were there for moral support. They never looked up.

I made it to my room and found my clothes. The shirt I had worn to the hospital Tuesday morning was still in the little metal locker with my trousers and shoes. Funny I had not noticed that the bottom button on the shirt was broken when I wore it on Tuesday. My wallet and keys were not with my clothes and I assumed Sylvia was holding on to those items for me.

At any moment I expected to hear an alarm or hear people coming to stop me but I walked out of the hospital without incident. Matter of fact, I walked all the way home and never saw a familiar face. For five hours and eleven miles I walked expecting any moment to see someone come along side me to carry me back to the hospital.

Finally I made it to my front yard. Just as I stepped onto my grass I saw my daddy pull up in his blue pickup truck. He parked on the side of the grass and left the engine running. He never gestured or spoke to me until I walked over to the truck.

I leaned in the passenger side window and Daddy said “Hey Arby!” and gave me a nice grin. I still don’t know why he called me Arby or where the name came from.

“Hey Pop”, I answered. I waited for him to tell me why he was at my house. He rarely came to my house and never unless Mother was with him.

I opened the door and sat down beside him and still he remained silent. He looked over at me and put the truck in gear. As we drove down the road I told him a couple of new jokes I had heard recently. It was nice to listen to him chuckle and watch his face as it broke into a grin. Still he did not talk. Presently I heard him singing softly and off key “Do Lord, oh Do Lord, Oh Do Remember Me”. He never got beyond the first two lines of the song and sang them over and over again.

We drove around for what seemed like hours. Finally he turned into a neighborhood that was both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. I thought I could recognize the general area but I could not positively identify any of the streets and houses. After a few turns and stops Pop slowed down in front of a neat brick house on a corner lot. The yard was small but neatly kept. Pop stopped singing and looked at the house on the corner lot. I waited for him to say something.

He eased the pickup around the corner and stopped under a large hickory tree. The green nuts fell on the roof of the pickup. I looked at Pop as he watched the house and his eyes were red rimmed and filled with tears. I turned to see what he was looking at.

The house had several large windows and was well lighted. There were several people inside the house and as I watched I could have sworn that my mother came to the window. She smiled as she saw me in the pickup with my daddy. She did not wave or make any gesture toward me.

I have always thought that my mother was the most beautiful woman in the world. Today I saw her in a light that amplified her beauty. I am afraid I am not articulate enough to describe the beauty that flowed around her.
Strange, I thought, Mother has been dead for 8 years.

I turned to look at Daddy. “Come on Pop,” I said, “That’s Mother. Let’s run in and see her!”

Pop looked at me as tears streamed from his eyes. “You can go in there,” he said, “but I am not allowed. This is as far as I can go.” Then he pulled away in the pickup and drove on down the street.

This is indeed strange, I thought again. Daddy has been dead for 12 years.
“Well.” I thought, “I will just go in and see Mother. I bet she has cooked something good to eat”.

I turned to go into the house to see Mother but all I saw was the face of Dr. Ware. He said, “We got that stent inserted with no problems. You should feel pretty good in a day or two.”

Editor’s Note: This first person account was submitted to the Star-Courier as an exclusive contribution by a doctor in Georgia. However, he has asked not to have his name published.