The Linear Canvas
This journal is about the wrongs and rights of the world, as I see them.

The Linear Canvas

Saved from the Grim Reaper?

April 15th, 2007 . by Alexander Fisher

In September of 2006, my wife, mother, and I went to see my aunt and cousin in Ashland, Kentucky. They lived in an old section of town about half a mile from the Ohio River, by the hospital, near the city park. Most of the homes on that street were large and over one hundred years old. Many were built by the well-to-do at the turn of the 20th century.

We had been at the house most of the day. We had dinner, walked around the park, and then sat around and talked for hours with my family. It was warm, but raining most all afternoon. Around the time that most of the others in the house were ready for bed, my wife Jill and I decided to sit on the front porch. It was raining pretty hard, but it was still about sixty degrees, so it was very comfortable.

We had been sitting on the porch for about an hour and were probably ready to go back into the house. Jill abruptly asked me if I saw something down at the corner by the park. She described dark images moving. She then said it looked like a woman with a baby carriage. I got up and walked to the opposite side of the porch and looked in the direction she was pointing in. At first I could not see anything abnormal. But as I continued to look, I saw an image seem to rise up and then fall to the ground. I looked around and saw the umbrella that we had brought from our car when we arrived earlier that day. I told Jill I’d be back, picked up the umbrella and opened it, and then started walking quickly towards the park.

The park was about four hundred to five hundred feet away from my aunt’s house and it took me about five to ten seconds to get to the corner. It was so dark and rainy, it was hard for me to see anything until I got to that point. I looked across the street and at that moment I saw a car pull up and stop near the corner on the opposite side of the street. As I crossed the street I saw a tipped over wheelchair and a man lying on the sidewalk.

As I got to the man, a very beautiful woman walked over to me from the car and asked me if he was okay. I said that I didn’t know yet, that I had just gotten there as well. I looked down and saw the man lying on the sidewalk in the rain. I asked him if he was alright. He said yes, and that his battery was dead on his motorized wheelchair. He obviously was paralyzed over most of his body. I also could barely understand what he was saying. The woman asked if she could help me, and that she could hold my umbrella or something. I gave her the umbrella and I asked the man if I could put him back in the chair. He said yes. The woman offered her aid, but it was seemingly just as easy picking him up by myself. I reached down and lifted the man off of the wet sidewalk and put him back in the wheelchair. Even though he was a fairly small man, because he could not assist me in getting him back in the chair, he seemed very much heavier than I expected. I just got my legs underneath him and pushed harder.

At that point I am not sure what happened to the woman. She seemed to almost just disappear. I believe I thanked her but I’m not sure. I know she wanted to help me help the man, but I was not sure how I could have used her to do more than I did.

After I got the man back in his chair, I asked him if I could push the chair without any power. He said yes I could, that it would roll without the battery. I could tell that his condition was worsened by his intoxication. I assume he just returned from one of the local bars and might have been drinking. It was a little hard for me to tell but I assume I was correct.

As I began pushing him up a slight incline, he told me that he only lived just a little way up the street on the other side. I found it difficult to hold on to the back of the chair as I was pushing it. It obviously was not meant to be pushed. It wasn’t particularly hard to push the chair but not having any place to grab ahold of it, made it difficult.

All the way up the street as we passed the park, he thanked me over and over again. I am not sure if there was much conversation beyond that. He did mention that he was holding the control lever for the wheelchair forward and I think he thought that was helping. It might have been, but I was guessing, not so much. I told him I didn’t mind doing it at all, and that was absolutely true. It was wet, but I was mostly warm so I wasn’t that uncomfortable. I‘m a big guy and I had the strength to do it. It was also a good way to burn off some of the spaghetti that we had for dinner. As we got to the end of the street I began to get exhausted.

It being Kentucky, the street was predictably getting steeper as we got closer to his home. I came to the last intersection and looked and saw that the street got very much steeper still. I mustered up the extra energy, adjusted my handhold, and pushed him the rest of the way to his house.

As we got to there, he said I could go up the alley beside it. Right beside the house he told me to stop, and began climbing out of the chair up the embankment on a piece of plywood. A man and a woman who were obviously relatives of his, turned on the light and came out of the back door. The man first asked him where he had been all day. He said they had been worried about him and had called all over looking for him. He told them, but I am not sure what he said. I helped him drag the man from the wheelchair to another sheet of plywood that laid on the back steps of the home. As I pulled him up the board I noticed he was caught by his feet on the end of the board. At that moment the other man realized that his relative was drunk. He laid him back down, and told him he had to crawl into the house by himself from there, which he did. The man turned to me and thanked me. I told him that I didn’t mind doing it. I mentioned my name and where I was from. I think he told me his name, but I’m not sure what it was now. I said goodbye and turned to walk down the alley back towards the street. It was darker on that end of the street as there must not have been much of a streetlight or one at all. Luckily, I thought, it was mostly downhill from here.

The lights were getting brighter as I got further away from the house. I crossed the street and started walking by the park again. Ahead I saw what appeared to be a man walking towards me. There was a peculiar glow that seemed to follow the man as he approached me. I thought to myself, is this the Grim Reaper? I really am not sure why I thought that. It just popped into my mind. I then somehow knew that the man was going to talk to me as I passed him, although I was still over two hundred feet from him. As I got closer to the man I began to dread approaching him and then passing him at all.

When I got about ten feet from him, he began to speak to me. He started talking about the man that I had just helped. He told me he knew him and had been trying to help him also. He explained that both men were disabled veterans. He kept telling me that he had tried to help the man, but his war injuries prevented him from doing so. He mentioned to me that he had lost all of his toes.

He said the man I had helped and he had been at a bar and then a library. When the library closed they had to leave. He said they were both very intoxicated. All of his statements seemed odd and slightly disconnected from what I was trying to say to him. I repeated a few times that I was just glad to help the man. I was trying to be calm with him, although I detected that the man was upset for some reason. After several slightly tense moments of discussion, there was a moment of silence. Then the man looked at me and asked me in a suddenly sober voice, if I even had known he had been there while I was helping the man in the wheelchair. I said to him I had not seen him at all before now. That seemed to satisfy him and he excused himself and walked off.

As I continued on to the house, I met Jill walking up the street towards me. She told me that she had become worried, and had started out to see if she could find me. I told her the story as best I could as we returned to the house.

I am not sure when I told the others at the house about what happened. Certainly by the next morning I had explained the incident to all of them at least once. I also mentioned the thought I had about the Grim Reaper as I approached the man on the street. I ended up getting a Halloween Grim Reaper’s scythe as a joke the next day. I must say I was just spooked enough to not particularly get the joke as well as the others did.

I’ve thought about this incident occasionally since it happened. If it wasn’t for the Grim Reaper incident, there would be more certainty in my mind as to what had occurred. When that thought came to me, I was concerned for my own safety. Recently I’ve thought that maybe the reaper wasn’t really coming for me after all, that night. Maybe an angel and I had interrupted the reaper as he tried to take the disabled man. Had it not been for the two of us, there is that possibility that the Grim Reaper could have taken that man’s soul that night on that corner. Luckily he did not get that chance.

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