I was very fortunate as a kid because I really didn’t have a lot of responsibility. You could argue that may not have done me very many favors preparing for my adult life but I was very lucky to have a care free childhood.
This carried into my early 20’s; my only responsibility was to make sure I kept my grades up and graduated on time. My instructions when I left for college were pretty clear cut, my parents were paying for four years of college and after that I was on my own. For those of you who know how cheap I am, you can see that’s motivation enough.
The first time I realized I was an adult didn’t come until I was 22. I was sitting at the dinner with my three youngest siblings (who at the time were aged 12, 11, and 10) and my step grandmother, who lived attached in an inlaw suite attached to the main house. We were eating salad and pizza and I was getting ready to go out for the night on a date with my current wife.
My Grandmom had taken a bite of her salad and suddenly started choking. She had put too much dressing on the salad (it was Italian) and it caused a piece of lettuce to get stuck in her throat. I just kind of sat there watching the whole thing transpire and suddenly my three siblings went sprinting from the table when they realized there was an issue. I was left there with my choking grandmother and looking around for an adult to deal with the situation when I suddenly realized I was that person.
I jumped up and came around behind her to administer the Heimlich maneuver on her to try and get her to start breathing on her. It took me close to 60 seconds of pushing against her chest before the piece of salad that was stuck in her throat finally came flying out. As soon as that happened, she sat right back down to the table and started eating. Never once did she say thank you to me or acknowledge what I did for her. I had saved her life and she just sat down and started eating straight away. She didn’t ever have much to say to me but I was thinking that was a situation where she could have made an exception. Pretty weird, huh?
That’s the first time in my life I realized that I was an adult. It was a scary situation and I was really hoping there was someone else around who could deal with it. I really don’t know what I would have done if I wouldn’t have gotten that piece of lettuce out of her throat. That would have been very traumatic but luckily everything worked out.
I remember Mrs. Mac and I were out having cocktails a few hours later and I had trouble holding my beer because my hands were visibly shaking. I was all stressed out about things and all had turned out for the best. Lord knows how that would have affected me if it didn’t.
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