Getting Down To The Heart Of The Matter With My Friend Tom


I have a guy, Tom, working for me at one of my stores who had a heart attack at age 49. He was the general manager of a chain of Wisconsin grocery stores, in charge of 4,500 employees and under intense pressure to achieve certain sales numbers.

In his off-hours, he enjoyed Wisconsin beer, bratwurst, cheese, and everything else that tastes so good it’ll kill you.

Tom’s a great guy, a good worker and the only reason I have him sitting behind my counter is that it’s a low-stress job of which his wife approves. He greets customers, rings up their sales, sends them off with a good feeling — just what we need. Now 73, he is also an expert on coins, so we do quite a bit of business in coins on the three days a week that he works. I’m happy with him.

His wife is happy with him, too, because, thanks to revising his diet, Tom has also lost a lot of weight over the years. Everything’s going swimmingly.

You can see why he felt the need to join a softball team. It’s a senior softball team but, still, his wife is not happy about it.

“It’s only on Mondays,” he tells her.

“But… your heart,” she cautions.

And they go around like that — him, flirting with danger; her, worrying about it; him, asking her to please quit nagging; her, worrying about it.

Well, it was a beautiful sunny Monday out there on the softball field.

The ball had been thrown right into the sweet spot, and Tom swung at it. To his surprise — and excitement — he hit it. The ball went sailing overhead, and Tom took off in a heart-pounding sprint.

The sprint didn’t last for long. He collapsed on his way to first base, falling down in the dirt.

One of his friends — a former chiropractor — immediately began trying to revive him using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The third baseman had been a medic in the U.S. Army, and he ran over to begin chest compressions. The pair performed CPR on Tom for the few minutes it took the ambulance to get there. (It got there very quickly, and I suspect it’s because they park just around the corner during senior softball.)

Despite some touch-and-go moments on the way to the hospital, Tom made it. The doctors on call performed some pretty heavy-duty cardiac intervention, and Tom pulled through. He’s alive. He’s even back at work.

But on that fateful day — the last day he was ever allowed to play softball — Tom was confused. When he came to in the recovery room, he didn’t know where he was, what he had been through. He turned to his adult son, sitting quietly at his side, and asked, “Where am I? What happened?”

So Tom’s son told him the whole story.

Tom listened carefully, then asked his only question, “Did I make it to first base?”

And his son replied, “Only with the chiropractor.”