After the incident, my first week back at work was difficult. I was coming home in the evenings, wanting to do nothing more that lie on the couch in front of the TV. On Friday afternoon I came home early at about 4.30 only to hear the cashed up hoon who lives with his parents next door to us, on the opposite side to Ken and June banging away on his drums in his so-called studio about a metre from our windows. After about an hour; this young musical genius who may believe he is the next Cozy Powell, but who sounded more to me like Animal from the Muppets took a break from cymbal crashing, went outside into his yard, downed a fresh stubby of beer and stood shirtless chatting across his fence to a pretty young thing from the flats on the other side. I opened my window and called over the fence, “We’ve had enough music now, OK?” Note how polite I was being - I called it music.
“No mate,” came back the response, “we haven’t finished; look at the time!” – as if the fact that it was still daylight meant there was no problem here.
I went back to my couch, and mercifully the drumming did stop. About ten minutes later, there came a heavy knocking at the front door. “Oh God,” I thought, “Cozy is here to back up his words with some violent action.” Gingerly, I opened the door a little, expecting a torrent of abuse to come flying through, or worse a tattooed fist.
It wasn’t him at all. It was one of Ken’s daughters, standing there with a brave smile on her face. She told me how grateful the family were for my actions of the previous week, and that they would never forget us. She gave me a thank you card and a small wrapped gift. Pauline and I exchanged embarrassed little hugs with her, and I said that anyone would have done the same in the circumstances - and I meant it.
We didn’t open the card or the gift until we were back inside – the words written by the family on the card moved me to tears. I can’t quote the exact words, but the message was that the world is a nicer place because “angels like you walk the earth”. The gift was a small figurine of an angel carrying a lantern and on the bottom were the words, “Angel of Hope.”
Ken’s funeral service was at a small community church in one of the small towns in the Hunter region. There was standing room only for what was a very moving and very personal little service. Ken was clearly a very well loved and well regarded man, and I wish so much that we had been given the chance to get to know him better.
The year got decidedly better a couple of weeks later when our daughter, Kathleen and her lovely new fellow flew in from the UK on a damp Tuesday morning to spend five weeks with us – our first time with her for over 18 months.
Now to get to the real reason why I am revisiting this story. I work for a large international organisation, and a few months after the episode with Ken, I delivered a very personal version of the incident at a safety morning tea which regularly takes place in our office. The presentation was subsequently picked up on our corporate website and it has since been used in a number of our offices and other places around the world. Many organisations (including our own) provide voluntary first aid training courses, which include opportunities for family members to participate. Last week I received an email from someone who I have never met who lives in Canada. This person had been forwarded a copy of my earlier posting and as a result, has recently introduced first aid training in his own organisation. As it happened the very day after one of these sessions, a life was almost certainly saved when a shopper collapsed in a local supermarket, and one of this person's staff having recently participated in training for the first time, was on hand to provide help.
So please, I can't stress this strongly enough - share this with others and think about how you can help. As I said before, it may well be your own life that is saved - or mine!