I have had bad eyesight for most of my life.  When I started having trouble seeing the blackboard at school, at age 7, my parents’ solution was that I should move to the front of the classroom.  It took several months to convince them that my vision was compromised to the point that I needed to wear glasses.

The day I finally took possession of my new glasses could have been the last day of my life.  I was 8, and my mother had taken my brother and me to the mall to pick up my glasses.   What a revelation, seeing things clearly for the first time!  I didn’t want to take them off.

We had to take an escalator back down to the main floor of the mall.  My mom was busy with my brother, who was about 4 at the time.  They got on the escalator and proceeded down.  I was behind them, realizing for the first time that seeing more clearly was going to take getting used to.  I had no depth perception with the glasses on, and when I stepped forward, I missed the escalator stair and started to fall.

I was a long way up, and there was no one in front of me to break my fall.  If I had fallen, I would have been killed.

With amazing reflexes, a woman beside me grabbed my left arm, pulled me back and held me, it seemed, until we got to the bottom.  I was  panic-stricken and had started to cry, and never said a word to her.  I think she may have asked if I was okay, and I may have nodded, but I don’t really remember anything except being scared witless.  My mom and brother had no idea what happened until they reached the bottom and stopped to wait for me.

I don’t know whether anyone thanked that woman for what she did.  I hope so.  For many years, I couldn’t ride an escalator (up or down) without holding the handrail in a strangler’s grip, frightened out of my mind.  I would get off as quickly as possible and then, once I calmed down, I would remember my heroine and offer silent thanks to her again.

I haven’t thought about that day for a long time.  She was gray-haired when she saved me, and probably passed away years ago.  Today, on my birthday, I need to thank her one more time.  You saved my life.  Thank you.

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