George has been a diabetic since his kidney transplant about eight years ago. Before that, he had heart bypass surgery and in the last couple of years he has had eye surgery twice, sprained his ankle badly, and contracted the shingles on his face and head. About every three months he has skin cancers removed from his body. George is about 5′ 9″ and weighs about 240 pounds. He will be 70 years on the earth this year. He and his wife just celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary. One other thing, George is a hero. Let me tell you his story.
George loves to play golf on his days off. Never one to lay around the house, George works four shifts a weeks at a golf course. In his position as driving range attendant, he picks up golf balls with a manual ball picker, he washes them, and he places them in buckets to be sold. During his shift he deals with about 15000 golf balls in one way or another. On the morning shift, he gets to work at 530am and on an evening shift, he works from 1pm until dark. When he’s not working at the golf course or playing the game, he is thinking about both. George will probably die on the golf course. I hope he gets a hole-in-one before he leaves us.
All George’s friends know him as “mule” because of his stubborn, entrenched position on some issues. No one has called him “mule” in a long time, but we all think about it sometimes. We love George. Everyone who knows him know he is always where he is supposed to be, when he is supposed to be there, doing what he is supposed to do.
Jerry walks the par-3 course almost every morning that is not too hot or too cold. That means he’s out their walking, pulling his cart, and playing some of the most consistent golf I have ever watched about five days a week. Par’s should be called “Jerry’s” on the short course as he makes them as easily and naturally as granny makes an apple pie. We like Jerry, but he plays alone most of the time. Jerry has been on the earth 70 years. This avid golfer is about 6’4″, 180lbs: a lanky man with scraggly white facial hair that could be mistaken for mange if it were on a dog, but Jerry wouldn’t be Jerry without it. In fact, Jerry wouldn’t be Jerry anymore at all, except for George.
George works most of the time and Jerry walks the short course most of the time. They are friends and they both love to talk. This particular day at the course was hot, again. It’s summer in the south and that is what summer is in the south: hot. Jerry starts playing when the course opens at 7am and George has been working an hour by then. Jerry is back by 10am or so and he stops by to talk to George before he heads home. This particular day, about a month ago, Jerry came up the hill from the course towing his two-wheeled cart towards the driving range house when he sees George picking up balls around the practice green. The driving range house is about 50 feet up further up the hill from the practice green. George was sweaty and Jerry was drenched as they approach each other for the morning ritual of solving the problems in the world: the same problems they had solved the day before. Jerry decided to take his clubs to his truck first, which was so close by, you could hit it with a water balloon, but in this southern heat, no one would waste the water to try. Then he changed his mind. He turned around to say something to George. That’s when Jerry fell. He didn’t stumble or trip or collapse with exhaustion. Not at all. At that moment, Jerry died. His arms went limp. His knees shot forward as his head rocked back. As his knees buckled, trapping his lower legs behind him. His torso fell backward increasing the speed at which the back of his head slammed against the pavement. Jerry was gone. And only George knew.
Jerry’s wife was at work and his daughter was living her day as she lived everyday – with her daddy on the earth. Neither knew, Jerry, daddy, was gone. They would only find that out later that he had been gone. In that life or death moment, George made a decision. That simple decision saved Jerry. George was alone at that time. No golfers were practicing and no maintenance people were mowing. The phone was a mere 50 feet away. 911 was that close. He chose not to call 911. He was alone. He could not help Jerry alone. He did not know CPR. George, instead, used his walkie-talkie to tell the pro shop Jerry was hurt and to call 911. At that moment, every employee on the golf course was alerted simultaneously that he and Jerry needed help. Lester heard George and arrived first. Lester knows CPR. He was there in under a minute. During that minute, George raised Jerry’s lifeless head, propped it up and straightened Jerry’s legs. Then for 12 minutes, George and Lester used to CPR move blood and oxygen through what used to be Jerry and was now only a body growing cold. The ambulance arrived, confirmed Jerry had no pulse, hit him with the paddles and restarted his heart. For 12 minutes Jerry was gone. Enough time to run a mile. If George had run 50 feet to the phone, he would have to have made two calls: one to 911 and then one for help. Then he would have to wait for help to arrive. Under extreme duress, George made the only decision that could have saved his friend. One week later, Jerry was released from the hospital after awakening from an induced coma. No brain damage. No paralysis. Jerry only needs a couple of stints, it seems, and to take it easy for a while. He remembers nothing of the entire incident. Thanks, George. We all remember how the “Mule” saved a man.