ONE LAST THOUGHT…

Louis Levin was disturbed, he looked outside and all he saw was heavy snow falling. It was six in the morning and Louis had a very important meeting at seven thirty in Toronto. Under normal circumstances it would take him about forty five minutes to get to mid-town, but with snow it would take even longer. The Highway was guaranteed to be a mess.

He washed, shaved and got dressed. He knew the next half hour would be spent shovelling snow. He dreaded the thought of it, as it was still dark outside. He had bought a snow blower but the damn thing had stopped working after the fourth snowfall and was still at the repair shop.

Every morning Louis put on his Tefillin and prayed. It was a quick service but it provided a few minutes of meditation and escape from the daily grind.

He went to the door, grabbed his coat, hat, and gloves and headed out to do his shovelling. Louis would turn sixty in a week and he couldn’t believe how fast time had flown. He kept telling himself that Sixty was the new forty, but he knew in his heart and mind that it was bullshit. He was going to be six decades and time had flown by very quickly.

The weather outside was much colder than Louis had anticipated and snow flakes were still falling. He hated the fact that the plow had driven by and the end of his driveway featured a three foot wall from the snow on the road.

Just before Louis began to shovel in earnest, he looked at his watch. Six Forty, he thought about calling Harry Smilkin to tell him he’d be late for their meeting, but he figured he’d see how he did on the shovelling first. If he got things done relatively quickly, maybe the highway would be better than he thought it would be.

Louis noticed that the snow was heavy. Usually it was a quick push to the side and a lift, but this stuff required a lot of effort to move it across the driveway. In fact Louis really started to sweat which ususally didn’t happen to him when he was dealing with snow.

The sweating became more profuse and all of a sudden Louis felt his left arm starting to hurt. He thought maybe it had something to do with pulling a muscle after lifting the snow. The pain was fierce and before he knew what was happening, his legs buckled and he crashed down to the driveway.

It was pitch black out, snow was landing on his face, and he felt like the was stuck to the ground he couldn’t move and the pain in his arm had now spread to his chest. He wanted to scream and he tried, but no words came out and nobody would have heard him anyways. He could hear a snow blower down the street, but with the conditions the way they were, they wouldn’t even see him on the ground. It wouldn’t be long before he was covered in snow.

Louis tried to cry but the pain wouldn’t let him, so instead he started to reflect on his life. He had been born into a decent, hardworking, loving family. His Father was a really decent and good man, and his Mom was beyond reproach. They both loved their children with every ounce of strength in their bodies. Louis had a Brother and Sister and he would do anything for them. His Brother had gotten married and had three kids who had given him nine beautiful Grandchildren. His Sister hadn’t married and she always depended on Louis to be there for her. Lately Louis wondered if was being as good as he should have in that respect. He had started dating Kacee and was spending more time with her than his Sister, and he knew that his sister missed their closeness. He tried to balance the relationship but he was flaling and failing badly.

As the cold started to go through his body, Louis kept on thinking about Hemmingway and his story ‘’The Old Man and The Sea’’. It was a similar plot, the old man fought a big fish, Louis was fighting the cold and snow and trying to survive. The pain in his chest and arm wasn’t as intense but he didn’t feel right at all. He still couldn’t move

Louis’s phone rang in his coat pocket, but he couldn’t get his arm up to get it. He lied there listening to the ring and wishing he could get help, but he couldn’t. People would think he probably was on his way to work and that’s why he wasn’t taking the call, they would never believe he was getting frozen to the driveway.

As the sweat became freezing, Louis thought about his job. He knew he could have done better and more, but he never settled for anything and liked working for himself. He had spent six wonderful years with his Dad, before his Father had passed and then he went on to make sure his Mom had a good life. Those were good things to do, but they were also happening during Louis’s most productive years.

As tears froze on his face, Louis wondered how much time he had before the exposure took him away. He had read stories about it. Cold becoming so prevalent that the person simply falls asleep and doesn’t wake up. He could feel the drowsiness coming over him, but he would fight it for as long as he could.

Louis thought about his Aunts and Uncles, and Grandparents that he adored. He was sure they would be at the gates of Heaven waiting for him. He wondered if his dogs Bongo, and Slots would be in heaven. He then started thinking that he hoped he made it to heaven. His halo was a little crooked. He had done some minor things that might get him in trouble, nothing serious in terms of the earth, but at the heavenly tribuneral who knew.

One of his eyes wouldn’t open. It felt like it was soldered shut. The snow was covering him quickly and he could feel the moist, wet flakes landing in his mouth. He was a mess.

Louis started thinking about his friends and realized he didn’t make a big enough effort to stay in touch with people. He always suggested that it was their responsibility, but as he laid half covered in snow, he was sorry he didn’t work to get together with people he enjoyed hanging out with.

In the distant, Louis heard the snow plow. Just what he needed, another layer at the end of his driveway. Nobody would ever see him. It would be a pain when they finally found him to get the driveway cleared. He wondered if one of the neighbours would be asked to use their functional snow blowers.

Finally, Louis thought about Hero, his dog. His faithful and loyal dog who he was sure was watching from the front window. He hoped his Sister would take him. She was kind and compassionate and he knew Hero loved her.

He was sorry Kacee and he would never get the chance to live a normal life. She had been divorced twice and only wanted to live a happy, normal life and it was hard. They were on the right path, but now they would never know what could have been.

Louis didn’t want to close his other eye, but he was now getting very, very tired. He thought he saw his Mom and Dad motioning for him and he wondered if it was time to leave.

The ground was no longer as cold as it had been and even though he still couldn’t move, he wasn’t in any kind of pain. He was feeling almost a sense of relaxed. Louis didn’t want to go, but if Gd had pulled his ticket, there was little he could do about it.

Just as he was about to fall into a deep sleep he felt someone talking to him. He wanted to answer but no words came out. Then he heard other muffled voices. Soon there was heat on his body, and there was a mask on his face. He didn’t know exactly what was taking place.

The next thing he remembered was waking up in a very uncomfortable hospital bed. He had all kinds of monitors around him and a nurse smiling at him.

‘’You gave everybody a scare. You’re an amazing man, you survived a serious myocardial infarction and you’re here to tell the tale. You have to take it easy when you do snow shovelling. I can’t tell you the number of people who have passed on from heart attacks because of it. You’re not as young as you once were. Dr. Abshi will be in to see you soon.’’

Louis had no idea of time, so when Dr. Abshi came in to check him out, he didn’t know if it had been five minutes or five hours since he had talked with the nurse. Dr. Abshi was a tall very professional looking woman.

‘’You escaped what could have been a tragic situation. Your Sister came over to your house when she couldn’t reach you, and saw you in the driveway. She called 911 and fortunately we arrived just in the nick of time. I’m sure a few more minutes and you would have been gone. Now you’ll have to start a rehab program and slowly get back into the world. At this time I would say your heart needs about six months to heal and then we’ll keep an eye on things, probably do tests once a month to make sure everything is okay. The good news is we didn’t need to put in any stents or do bypass surgery. It is quite a miracle.’’

Dr. Abshi left and the nurse gave Louis some pills to take. As he laid in bed, he once again thought he saw his Mom and Dad nd they were saying, ‘’Louis, it’s not your time, you can still do a lot of good in the world.’’ and then they disappeared.

Louis lied there in gratitude. Thankful to be alive and thankful his sister had found him. He was sure he was a goner.

As he slowly allowed himself to drift into sleep land he said a prayer of thanks. He would have another chance to be a better person, to spend more time with family and friends, and to live life with a greater sense of zeal. He was grateful for so much and would never take another minute for granted.

The last image he saw as he started to sleep was an old man on a boat reeling in a very big fish and then standing up off his driveway.

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Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.

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Alan J. Schwarz

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.