MACHIAS, Maine — Eric Kidder has been in and out of hospitals all his life. The 53-year-old has severe breathing and heart issues, and is on oxygen 24 hours a day.
So when he found himself in the emergency department of Down East Community Hospital last week, he wasn’t surprised.
But when a young boy injured in a horseshoe game came in crying in fear and pain, Kidder could really relate.
“My heart went out to him,” Kidder said this week. “I really understood how scared he was.”
Damian Reyes, 8, was camping with his family at Pretty Pond and enjoying a fun game of horseshoes when he was injured.
“I was in the lead,” Reyes said Wednesday. “I went to check my point, and I got hit in the head.” The horseshoe, thrown by a family friend, hit the boy in the back of the head, and prompted a visit to the hospital for staples to close the wound.
“He was crying and just so scared,” Kidder said. “I know just how that feels.”
So, through the curtain that separated them, Kidder began talking to the child, reassuring him that everything would be all right.
Kidder can be found nearly every day at the flea market on the Machias dike, selling guitars, other musical instruments and household items.
“I don’t really make any money,” Kidder said. “But this keeps me out of bed and gives me something to do.”
In an attempt to calm Reyes at the hospital, Kidder offered him a guitar.
Wednesday morning, fully recovered from the horseshoe to the head, Reyes stopped by the dike and picked up a brand new, black, Roque guitar from Kidder.
Reyes was clearly excited, but it was evident that Kidder was pretty excited, too.
“This is absolutely wonderful,” his mother, Jillian Alley, said as Reyes tried strumming his new guitar. Alley said the family has a friend who has offered to provide Reyes with lessons.
“He has always wanted to learn,” Alley said.
Reyes thanked Kidder several times and shook his hand.
As for horseshoes, “They are a lot of fun,” Reyes said. “But not when you get hit in the head.”