A Simple Trip to the Mall

photo copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

Last Friday evening started as a simple trip to the mall in nearby Ottawa, Ontario. My husband and I were leisurely shopping, enjoying each other’s company. We stopped at the popcorn place to pick up a snack then I told my husband I would return after going to the restroom.

On the way, I noticed a commotion by the computer store: a group of paramedics working on an unconscious woman on the floor. One was performing CPR. I recited a Hail Mary for the woman then began saying the Divine Mercy Chaplet while I headed into the restroom. When I came out, it looked like they had stopped doing CPR. I wasn’t sure whether it was because she had died or whether she had begun breathing again. A large crowd continued to gather. Most people seemed genuinely concerned instead of merely curious.

When I returned to my husband, he offered me some popcorn, which I refused. It didn’t seem right to be sitting and eating popcorn while a woman was fighting for her life or perhaps had lost it a short distance away. Together, we said a prayer for the woman as we walked out of the mall.

It got me to thinking, however. And brought to mind the fragility of our earthly life, the absolute temporariness of our life here on earth.

It also reminded me of another woman, who in 1909, was going on a simple trip across the street in Philadelphia to pay the rent. She was the mother of ten children, the youngest, 18-month-old twins. As she was crossing the street, she dropped dead of a brain aneurysm. That woman was my great-grandmother, Mary Smith Hamilton (1866-1909). She was only 43 when she died suddenly and left a houseful of ten children for her husband and oldest daughter to raise (my paternal grandmother, Margaret Hamilton Gable 1907-1988, was one of the twins).

These tragic incidents remind me of how vigilant we should be about our spiritual life and how we shouldn’t wait until tomorrow to improve ourselves and try to be better…because our death could happen at any time, on our way to the grocery store, while sitting at home watching TV, walking across the street to pay the rent or…during a simple trip to the mall.

Copyright 2012 Ellen Gable Hrkach


8 thoughts on “A Simple Trip to the Mall

  1. Ellen,

    I have been thinking about the same subject. Yes, life is so fragile and we are not in control of it at all.

    Your popcorn story reminded me of something that happened on the day that Thomas died. After saying goodbye to Thomas, we arrived back in my hospital room just as the evening meal was being served. It didn’t seem right to sit down and eat when we’d just witnessed death, regardless of the fact we hadn’t eaten for many hours due to all that had been happening.

    Thank you for sharing the story of your day. It is true that we are always putting off until tomorrow, things we should be doing today. But there could be no tomorrow…

    God bless you!

  2. It is so good to know that there are people who still have a sense of the sacred and a deep sincere respect for the life of another person … thanks Ellen for the shared story! God bless you and keep on writing!

  3. Pingback: Sunday Snippets – August 19 « Plot Line and Sinker

  4. Thank you for this thought-provoking reflection. A priest friend of ours just lost his mother two days ago and although she was 91, it was somewhat unexpected in that she was still living on her own, fiesty, physically able and mentally strong. It is in these moments, such as you shared, that we are reminded of the importance of a strong spiritual life and preciousness of human life – in all its stages.

  5. Thank you for this, Ellen,
    As I left for Mass this morning I hollered “Goodbye,” to my husband, Jim. It struck me as sounding so final, I quickly added, “I”ll see you later.” However, that instantly reminded me of the note, my father left for my mother, before he called for an ambulance. The note read, “I’ll see you later.” He never returned.
    Like you, I, too, said a Hail Mary, thinking we never know.

    (Happy ending: I’m still here. Jim, too.)

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