Ohana Means Family

My son, Albert, was attending the very same University where I worked (Yes, we got a discount) and while he was there, he met a young, graduate student who was living in the Dorms. She had just arrived from out of State and he was there in her dorm room to install her phone. There was immediate attraction. So for a short time, we began to see not so much of him at home; a significant amount of his time was spent “at school” as in, “Mom, Dad. I’m going to be at school.”

“Oh, you have class today?”

“No.”

“Okay.”

Anyway, they had been seeing each other for about six weeks and appeared to be deeply emotionally connected to each other and although we had met Diana and she seemed genuinely nice, we didn’t really know her very well.

On a particularly cool, October (Homecoming) night, I was working the Fire on the Fountain Homecoming Celebration Tradition. For a 150-year-old university, this tradition was only about six years old. My university, no matter how much they tried, was not very good at maintaining any sort of meaningful tradition, beyond sexual violence in Intercollegiate Athletics. So I was working this event, assigned on foot to stand around and make sure nothing bad happened, or when it did, to call an ambulance (like last year when the sword dancer cut off his ear). And during this time, one of the patrol officers, Matthew, stopped by to chat with me.

Meanwhile, at the University Police Department, one of our dispatchers, Katie, answered a non-emergency number. A young woman called and asked to be connected to me, but I was out at a special event, so I was unavailable. The young woman said that she just needed to let me know that she was having some medical issues, and asked if she could have me call her back. Katie’s ears pricked up with “medical issues” and she dug for more information until the words “something is wrong with my heart” came out. She immediately dispatched officers and paramedics to the young woman’s on-campus apartment.

While I was talking to Matthew, he received a medical aid call in the Dorms, in the graduate student/faculty tower. As he drove away to the call, I tried to remember the location. It was Tower A, and on the 7th floor. What was Diana’s apartment number? I didn’t want to bother the dispatcher, because they were obviously busy, so I called my wife and asked if she remembered Diana’s apartment number. She couldn’t.

So I waited, listening to Matthew on the radio as he contacted the patient and gave instructions for the paramedics. Matthew happened to know my son, Albert, as Matthew was an Olympic-level Judo Athlete (I even found that he has his own Wikipedia page) and Albert was also involved in the Judo world. My cell phone rang and I saw that Matthew was on the phone.

“This is Wes.”

“Sarge, why am I looking at a picture of Albert on this young woman’s fridge?”

My adrenaline spiked. I had heard the dispatcher’s instructions involving possible chest pains, a high priority medical call. “Is it Diana?”

“Yep? Is this Albert’s girlfriend?”

Matthew let me know that Diana was definitely going to the hospital, but that Diana, who had come to us from Puerto Rico (and if your first thought was, ‘Oh, she’s a foreign exchange student,’ you can stop reading this now, goodbye) had insurance, but didn’t know what hospital to go to. I knew that she was far from home and far from family, so I made the split-second decision that she should go to Good Samaritan Hospital, which was just blocks from my home and would make it easier for us to provide support.

Then Matthew asked me if Albert was on campus. He was. He should be in class in the Engineering Building, on the opposite side of campus from the Tower A.

“Well, if he wants to go to the hospital with her in the ambulance, he needs to get here, soon. I’ve already spoken with the paramedics.”

I called Albert’s phone, and he answered, which surprised me, since he was in class, but I explained what happened and told him that the paramedics were going to be ready to go very soon. The only things that Albert said were, “Hey, what’s up?” when he answered and, “Okay,” before he hung up.

Less then four minutes later, Matthew called me to let me know that Albert had just arrived and that the paramedics weren’t sure who needed oxygen more, him or Diana. After they arrived at the hospital, Albert called to give us an update and let us know that Diana’s mother and sister were going to be coming and could we recommend a hotel. We immediately offered a spare bedroom in our house, again, just blocks from the hospital. Ultimately, her medical condition was resolved and a few years later, they married.

Usually, young couples try to carefully orchestrate the meeting of their separate families, but for this couple, our families were thrown together in crisis. We met, we connected, we bonded, and just a few short days ago, Albert and Diana welcomed their first baby into the world. Congratulations and thank you.

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