While visiting Killarney, in Ireland, we stayed at a “B&B” of dubious distinction, located on Lewis Road, a busy thoroughfare on a slope that connects a residential area of town with the commercial district, and lots of American tourists were driving uncertainly up and down it in rented cars, probably a little faster than they should. We traveled up and down this road many times during our visit, in all kinds of weather at all different times of the day.
One evening, as we were headed back to our room after dinner, we spotted a young family headed our way, or rather a mom and four children hurrying down the hill. They were apparently on their way to some event that involved bringing flowers, for each kid carried either a single flower or a sprig of a few blossoms as they rushed to keep up with Mom, whose shirt was flapping in the breeze as she pushed a stroller carrying a toddler. The older kids walked alongside, the big brother next to his sister of about nine, and bringing up the rear was a little girl of about four or so, carrying a single rose, wearing colorful, plastic sandals. She was skipping wildly, dodging the cracks in the sidewalk as kids do. By this time we were quite close to her, and I was about to ask Mom what the flower event was all about, when it happened: The little girl’s leg went out from under her, and down she went, sort of scraping the sidewalk on the way. The shrieking started at a high pitch, and Mom turned, seeing her daughter go down. She reacted quickly, letting the baby go, and spun around to catch her daughter’s arm, the shrieks continuing and getting louder. The next thing I knew, I was holding the stroller with my feet, to keep it from rolling into the street, and the baby was staring up at me, a shocked expression on his face, lip trembling. All I could think to say was “Oh, hello, there! I’m a stranger, and will keep you safe,” and was again about to ask Mom about the flower festival, but the look of determination and exasperation on her face made me think better of it. They continued on, as hurriedly as before, but Mom was holding the daughter in one hand and the stroller in the other. Off they went.