By Mel Pearlman

A story remembered from many years ago


The bleeps on the oscilloscope, the respirator assisted breathing and the occasional movement of a leg or an arm are the only evidence that this peaceful old man is engaged in a fierce battle for his life.

The fight for life began on a quiet tree-lined street in Central Florida, where the tranquility of a residential neighborhood was shattered by the crashing of an automobile and its unbelted passengers into a magnificent oak tree.

The tree, a stately manifestation of nature’s wonders, had sustained life for so many years. She had provided shade and beauty to her human neighbors. She was shelter to many generations of birds and squirrels who nested in her branches, and she was the community concert hall in which were performed the melodious symphonies of her feathered inhabitants.

And now, if she had the capacity, surely she would be crying for the peaceful old man and the others who lay broken at her base.

The screaming sirens, the police, the paramedics, and the emergency room staff shifted the battleground for life to the intensive care unit of a local hospital where other dedicated professionals entered the fray.

A short slightly built man, he lies giant-like on the surgical bed, the focal point of medicine’s most sophisticated equipment, knowledge and strategy as they and the old man team up in this death-defying act to sustain life.

Frantically, his children grope for any sign that he knows that they are at his bedside; the squeeze of a hand, the blinking of an eye.

They read into his random body movements telltale signs of conscious behavior as he lies in an apparently unconscious state, concentrating on mobilizing his resources for the next breath of air, for the next beat of his heart.

The old man knows his children are present. He hears their supplications to hang on, and how much they love him. But he wants information. How is his beloved injured wife? How are the others who were in the car?

He just has too many things to do right now to concern himself with his kids. They will have to wait for his attentions until after the battle is won. And he is determined to win.

The broken pelvis and cracked left arm hurt, but they can wait. The healing of the massive abdominal injuries and fighting infection are his primary concern. He is pleased that he has stopped the internal bleeding. He is maintaining his blood pressure and moving those limbs when he can to maintain circulation.

He and the dedicated technicians, nurses and doctors consult frequently. Intelligence information in the form of blood counts, temperature readings, and bacteria cultures are constantly updated, and effective counter-measures, when necessary are taken.

The outcome of the battle is uncertain, but if it is lost, it will not be because the peaceful old man did not make a valiant fight for it. He is fighting with tenacity, courage and dignity.

A man who lives in peace should not die a violent death. If G-d takes him it will be a mistake.

Postscript: G-d did not make a mistake!

If you wish to comment or respond you can reach me at Please do so in a rational, thoughtful, respectful and civil manner.

Mel Pearlman holds B.S. & M.S. degrees in physics as well as a J.D. degree and initially came to Florida in 1966 to work on the Gemini and Apollo space programs. He has practiced law in Central Florida since 1972. He has served as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando; was a charter board member, first Vice President and pro-bono legal counsel of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida, as well as holding many other community leadership positions.


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