July 25, 2013 – Thursday
Today the K boys and I went to a nearby river. The three of them rented inner tubes and I kayaked on an upstream branch of the Little River in Townsend, TN. We were customers of the River Rat Company. There has been a lot of rain here this summer, and this normally peaceful, shallow river was higher and faster than normal. I was surprised that the company was letting people go out on this river without requiring lifejackets. I was reminded that you always have to be ready and willing to come to the assistance of other people. About halfway down the river, I watched as a young lady fell out of her tube and began floundering around in water that was over her head. It was clear that she could not swim, and that she was beginning to panic. Before I could get my kayak over to her, another nearby man came to her aid and helped her. He calmed her down as much as he could and then helped her get to shallower water. I would note that he was wearing a lifejacket, but she was not. After he got her to shore, he insisted that she take his life jacket. A couple minutes later I observed that he was having some trouble himself. He had gotten himself back out to his own tube, which was in deeper water, but he couldn’t get back onto it. He was having trouble breathing. He explained to me that he was having trouble with asthma. I was able to get my kayak near him, and I told him to hold onto the front of it while I paddled him to shallow water.
The lesson today was not something totally new to me: You have to be ready always to do what you can to help someone, even at an instant’s notice. I’ve known this, of course. But today’s events drove this lesson home in a new way.