Middle of the night, Oct. 30, 2001
From the depths of my dream, I heard the landline phone ringing on the side of my husband’s nightstand.
“BBBbbbbrrrrinnnnggg …. Bbbbbrrrriinnnggg …”
I grabbed it on the third or fourth ring. In a groggy voice, I whispered a simple, “Hello? …”
The person on the other end wasn’t as quiet. In fact, I heard fear and sadness in her voice.
“Melis … my dad died …”
I swore I was still dreaming.
“He and my mom were walking and he just had a heart attack on the sidewalk,” my former college roommate turned bridesmaid in my wedding (now the Godmother of my twins) said.
I quietly padded down the hall and down the five steps, into my living room, so as to not wake my husband.
There, on the couch, I just sat and listened to my best friend share the worst day of her life through the telephone.
Sarah’s mom was an OBGYN nurse. She had seen her share of scares, but this was something completely different.
Sure, heart disease ran in Bob’s family, but no one in a million years thought he would die from a heart attack. That only happened to “other” people’s parents.
Not a father of four grown daughters and a handful of grandchildren to boot.
Not to a man who wasn’t retired.
Not to a man who had yet to see his youngest daughter marry and have two girls of her own.
Not to a man who loved his wife and God.
But it did.
To this day, no one knows why Bob died on October 29, 2001.
But what I do know is the passing of Bob Bednarski shook my friend’s family to the very core.
It also opened my eyes to realize life is fragile.
And I never want to see anyone go through that again. It’s not fair.
For one Grafton, Ohio mom, she got lucky. Others aren’t so lucky.
On April 3, 2016 the mother and grandmother suffered what doctor’s refer to as the “Widow Maker” – mostly this type of heart attack hits men, but this time around, it hit her.
Her family called 911 and began CPR.
They did everything by the book.
Moments later, Brent Payne, a part-time police officer with the Village of Grafton, arrived. En route, he heard the words “full cardiac arrest” come across the scanner.
He knew what he had to do, and he was prepared.
Tucked away inside the trunk of Brent’s patrol car was an AED unit. The AED, or automated external defibrillator, is the device that may have saved the woman’ life. An AED is a portable electronic device that can automatically restart a heart rhythm.
“I always have it on my shift in case of incidents like this,” Brent said. “After speaking with paramedics on scene, they determined that if I did not have the AED with me and able to deliver the initial quick shocks, she may not have made it to the hospital with any signs of life.”
But, if any other officer had shown up at the Grafton woman’s door, no one is for certain what the outcome could have been.
You see, up until April 3, there was only one police officer on the Grafton Police force who carried an AED unit – Brent Payne. And, he was a part-time police officer. To say he was meant to be covering the night shift on April 3 is an understatement.
I don’t know if Brent truly understands the gift he gave to the family in Grafton, Ohio.
I hope he does, because in my gut, I know that rather than planning a Mother’s Day celebration, they would have been planning her funeral in early April.
I’m not sure if my friend’s dad would have survived his heart attack if a store nearby carried the AED units as some do now. But, that was in 2001 – and protocol is different now.
While Sarah’s dad is forever watching his family from Heaven, the Grafton mom has been given a second chance at life – that alone is the best Mother’s Day gift of them all.
About the author:
Melissa Linebrink is a reporter/bi-monthly columnist for “The Mommy Wars” printed in The Chronicle-Telegram. She has been featured as a blogger on the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Conference site, www.humorwriters.org. She also writes, edits and manages her blog, https://parenthoodthenewcrazytrain.com/. She can be reached at email@example.com.