Catherine Torpey saved my life

We had just driven into Seattle, fresh from the Spokane General Assembly, half-way through our all-American (with a side trip to British Columbia) 6,000 mile road trip. We called the trip the Unitariad. This was the year after my intership at All Souls Unitarian, Tulsa, where she was the youth/YA minister and neither of us had much money.

That, too, saved my life.

We arrived at the parking garage at 4:58 p.m. and the parking before 5:00 p.m. was very, very expensive. After 5:00 p.m., it was $1 all night. So, we decided to risk it, park at the gate, and hope nobody wanted to come in after us. What would two minutes matter?

I was eating — I should say throwing back — hard pretzels, and one got stuck!

I knew something was wrong when I couldn’t speak, which doesn’t happen often. The not-breathing part wasn’t so fun either. I did the jazz hands towards the throat thing you’re suppose to do when you’re choking.

Since we were parked, I got out of the car, and Catherine did too. I was looking around for something to lunge myself into. She asked a question I’ll remember unto my last day: “Are you sure?” A panicked nod later, she locked me unto a well-placed Heimlich Maneuver lunge.

The chunk of pretzel flew, much to the shock-horror of a group of motorists who stepped out of the elevator from parking their car.

I was hoarse but breathing, and since it was now well after 5:00 p.m., we parked the car and poked around the Pike Street Market.

I could say more, but the reason I’ve written this is the Rev. Catherine Torpey has been called to minister at the South Nassau (New York) Unitarian Universalist Congregation.

Congregatulations and Godspeed!

SNUUC calls a settled Minister

One Reply to “Catherine Torpey saved my life”

  1. My cousin Jenny was choking on a piece of steak one night when we were kids, and my dad reached his hand down her throat and pulled it out. Too bad he didn’t have the Heimlich skills of the good Reverend Torpey.

    We’re so glad she pomped that pretzel out of yer gullet. Tank gods.

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