My wife, kids, and I spent the Christmas holidays in Phoenix, Arizona, with my parents, brother, and sister. While the vacation was great, relaxing, and filled with beautiful sights like daily hikes and side trips to Sedona and the Grand Canyon, I had one big scare.

While walking with my 86-year old dad and my 6- and 8-year-old children to Barnes & Noble, my dad took a big fall while crossing the parking lot. I heard a ?thump?, looked behind me, and saw that my dad was face down on the road?s speed bump. ?I rushed to pick him up, and my kids crossed the street and watched from the curb, crying. When I flipped my dad over, he said ?I?m alright?, but his eyes were closed, and there was blood everywhere coming from a huge gash above his left eye. There was so much blood flowing into his eyes that he could not open them at all. His cochlear implant went flying out of his ear, so he couldn?t hear very well, either.

There were a few bystanders nearby that approached us. My kids saw everything, but a lady with two kids of her own (a baby in her arms, and a toddler holding her hand) took them under her wing and comforted them. One young man, a Chef from the Cheesecake Factory, took off his sparkling white chef?s coat and let me use it to control the bleeding. While helpful for a little while, the starchiness of the coat limited what could be done to stop the bleeding. Someone else stopped by who had some napkins and handed them to me. I asked that man to call 911, and he said, ?I got it?. Another man handed me some sort of small towel to use, which was a good thing because by then the napkins were soaked through. Then a lady came over and helped me hold his head up and apply pressure to his wound. Eventually, a mall security guard rolled in on his Segway and blocked traffic until the paramedics and ambulance arrived. ?The lady watching over my children — while handling four kids — called my wife and texted her several times. ?All of this happened within 6 minutes. ?Six minutes that can change a life.

Fortunately, my dad did not break anything, nor suffer any internal bleeding in his head. Just 13 stitches, some pain medication, black and blue bruising all over his face, and the use of a walker from now on. But that single scare made me realize how fragile life is and how good people can be. It happened so fast…in just a few minutes. It can happen to anyone, at any time, anywhere.

Before the Accident

The Injury Uncovered

13 Stitches Later

All Better

My lesson was that sometimes you need to slow down a bit, take a break from whatever you are immersed in, and look around. To appreciate those near you a little bit more. To be less judgmental of others and more accepting. And that while life can be cruel and evil, people — even strangers — still care. ?These strangers stopped to help, even if that meant sacrificing a coat, getting blood on their hands and clothes, or spending time calming down two emotional kids. Each of them had a choice…to walk by, or to help. And each of them chose to help.

A few days later, my wife, kids, and I went to the Cheesecake Factory to find the good samaritan and thank him personally. The manager thought he knew who it was, but he wasn?t there because his wife was delivering a baby. Hopefully he knows how much I appreciated his help, as well as the young mom who helped comfort our kids. If it wasn?t for them, and the other good samaritans, the outcome may have been far different. I will forever be grateful for their human kindness and caring.

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