The Medicine That Saved Me

“I’ll be back in about half an hour,” I said, as I walked out the front door.

Still quite sore from my cancer surgery, I began the one mile walk to Thrifty Drug Store Pharmacy on Yosemite Boulevard to pick up my medicine.

Things were a bit tough on the wife and I since the Stanislaus County Welfare Department had taken almost everything we owned. It was almost unbelievable that we owed almost one hundred thousand dollars in hospital costs.

Our small trampoline business, car, wedding rings and money were all confiscated by the county for partial payment of the large bill.

As I entered the pharmacy I got in line to wait my turn. In front of me was an elderly woman who was giving the pharmacists a very hard time. Feeling a little sick at my stomach, I turned around and sat down in one of the six hard chairs in the small waiting area. Within a minute the older woman also came over and sat down. I watched as she continually rubbed her legs, almost in tears she began to talk with me.

“This gout is killing me,” she replied.

"I had a few bursts of that last year, in my feet,” I told her.

“Then you know how it hurts.”

“Yes Ma’am, I sure do.”

“Ma’am, there is nothing I can do for you. Your doctor is out of town and there is no one I can possibly contact at this late hour. Besides you’re over your medication quota for the month anyway.” the pharmacist advised her.

“What type of medicine do you take?” I asked.

“Colcho…something or other,” she tried to say.

“Colchicine,” yelled the girl, who was standing by the pharmacist.

“Ma’am, I have two or three full prescription bottles of that at home. I never used it but maybe two or three times. I mean…full bottles,” I told her, in a quiet tone.

“How much do you want?” she replied.

“Nothing, you can have it.”

“Thank you dear. That is so kind of you,” she replied.

“One problem though,” I told her.

She looked at me, her eyes opened wide.

“You will have to wait until I walk home and bring it back.”

“Don’t you have a car, sonny?”

No Ma’am,” I replied.

When my prescription was filled, I paid for it and walked to the front door. Sitting in a taxi cab was the elderly woman.

“Here’s your ride home,” she said, as she laughed and then began coughing.

Within minutes we arrived at our small house, located in the worst part of Modesto known as “the airport district.”

The woman waited in the taxi while I ran into the house and dug out the pills, from a cardboard box, underneath the bathroom sink. I told my wife what I was doing and then walked out to the waiting cab and handed the woman the three bottles of medicine.

“Why would you do this for a total stranger?” she asked.

“I guess because you need it. I don’t need it anymore. It would just go bad sitting under the bathroom sink.”

“Give me your phone number, young man.”

As we had no telephone, I gave her the phone number of my in-laws, which the taxi driver wrote down for her. As they drove away she waived to me several times out the back window.

I went back into the house and took my own medications and then I lay down on the bed to rest for a few minutes.

Within seconds the medicine kicked in and I was out for the remainder of the night.

Now owning nothing of value, I had no idea how we were going to start a new life for ourselves. All night the dreams were haunting and terrible.

Early the next morning someone knocked on our door. When the wife answered, there stood the elderly woman.

“Is that man here who gave me the medicine?”

“Hon, I think this is for you,” yelled out the wife.

As I walked to the front door the wife gave me a funny look.

“Young man, can you and the misses come with me?” she asked.

“I stuck out my hands letting her know that I did not understand what she meant.”

“Can you two come with me?” she stated again.

My wife walked back into the room to see what was going on.

“Hon, she wants us to go with her.”

“Go where?”

“Just you two never mind,” said the woman.

I looked outside and saw a taxi sitting in the driveway.

“Let’s go,” she said, as she put her hand into the small of my back.

We loaded into the taxi and off we went.

We must have driven for thirty minutes before the taxi drove up to a small farm house located out in the country. The woman paid the taxi driver and he drove away.

“How are we going to get home?” I asked the woman.

“You just let me worry about that,” she replied.

We followed her out back to an old barn.

“Didn’t you tell me yesterday that you didn’t own an automobile?”

“Yes Ma’am.”

“Well, I am going to give you a car. Open those two barn doors,” ordered the lady.

I looked at the wife, raised my eyebrows and wondered what type of old junk Model T Ford awaited us behind the two barn doors. When I opened the creaking doors, I looked inside and right before me sat a brand new Chevrolet station wagon. It was a little dusty but not a scratch could be seen on it.

“I’m sorry ma’am but we cannot accept this.”

“And just why not,” the woman asked.

“The county will just take it from us.”

“Why would they do that?”

I owe almost one hundred thousands dollars for cancer surgery that I had last month.

“How can they take your car?”

“Any vehicle less than three years old we cannot own.”

“Then there is no problem.”

“What do you mean?” I asked her.

“This car is almost eight years old.”

“It can’t be. There is less than two thousands miles on the odometer,” I stated, as I opened the door and looked inside.

“My husband purchased this car in Fresno two days before he died. He made me promise that I would learn to drive and that I would never sell it.”

“Then why aren’t you driving it?”

“Never learned to drive”, she said, chuckling aloud.

“But he also told you never sell it.”

“I’m not selling anything. I’m giving it away, and I’m sure that my late husband would approve.

After walking inside, the woman excused herself, telling us she was going to retrieve the title from her safe. When she returned she signed the station wagon over to us.

After hugging the wife and I, she told us goodbye. She constantly waved both her arms in the air as we drove down the dirt driveway.

This was the start of a new life for the wife and me. I remember thinking that the three bottles of pills I had thrown beneath the bathroom sink was the medicine that saved me.

~ Roger Dean Kiser ~

The books, stories and CDs of Roger Dean Kiser, author, child advocate.

[ by: Roger Dean Kiser Copyright © 2008 ( -- submitted by: Roger Dean Kiser ]


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