I believe in karma—what goes around comes around—although in a few cases it seems that it’s w-a-y too long in coming (yes, J. and T., I’m talking to you!), and my conviction wanes somewhat.  And then there’s what happened today:

My mother and I had lunch with my aunt B.  I was eating my cheese baguette, my mother her tuna salad, and B her chicken, when she started gasping for breath and her face turned red.

bigstock-Heimlich-Maneuver-3832775-200x300 I stood behind her, put my fists into her stomach, and yanked.

I tried three times, but obviously hadn’t found the right spot, so when I saw a man about ten feet away, I called out, “Sir!  Choking!”

Blessedly he came over immediately and did the Heimlich two or three times.  The chicken was dislodged, and my aunt took her first breath in far too long.

She thanked the man profusely.  He said he was trained in the Heimlich method and had used it once before to save another person’s life. 

After he left, B said to us, “I’m 99 percent sure I know that man.”

She thought she knew him from when he was a boy—an acquaintance of her grandson.  This boy had had a tough life—two alcoholic parents—and she had brought him into her home to show him some kindness.  Unfortunately, he stole some items from B’s grandson, and a large quantity of money from my uncle.  The boy also called up B.’s grandson one night and asked him to go along with him to a prearranged fight against boys in another town. With all this, B and my uncle told the boy that he was no longer welcome in their house.

B was sure that this boy would soon be in prison, and that she’d never see him again. So was the man who saved her the same boy she’d thrown out of her house?

Right after the choking incident, she asked a waitress the name of her savior, and it was indeed the boy who had caused her family problems.

She said, “It still really upsets me that he repaid our kindness by stealing from us.”

“And now he’s saved your life,” I said.  “The debt is repaid many times over.”

From the Mayo Clinic:  how to save the life of someone who is choking–and also your own life.

Another method (a little unorthodox) to save your own life if you’re choking.