He pulled into my grandparent’s driveway and sighed in relief. He had packed up the three kids and made the 500 mile drive much more cautiously this time. He had checked his speed, looked to make sure there were no cars following too close and fastened up his seat belt.
The cause of his anxiety was that the night before he had a nightmare from which he had awakened in a shivering sweat. The content was that he had died. He could not recall how his demise had come but only that he had not survived. With that image still in mind, he was determined to play it safe in the car without mentioning it to anyone. He thought it was either a warning to watch his driving, or it was just an overactive imagination. Either way, he wasn’t taking his chances.
My mom, who was pregnant with me at the time, could not accompany him on the trip to see her parents. The doctor had put her on bed rest as she was in her late thirties expecting her sixth child. My two brothers stayed behind to make sure she was attended to while my dad took my two sisters and my brother along with him.
Once he had parked the car he thought he was in the clear, and the dream from the night before was forgotten.
On the Fourth of July, my dad, my grandpa and the three kids went out to my grandparents lake home. My dad spent what little spare time he had building model airplanes on the weekends, and he had brought one along to fly in the open fields. He positioned himself purposely away from any power lines and began flight. The plane began to have some sort of engine trouble. Once he remedied the problem, he set about to give it another try. Without realizing it, he had placed himself into the path of danger. Off the aircraft went again and suddenly looped itself around one of the voltage lines.
In a flash, he was knocked off his feet to the ground by 69,000 volts. Because wireless technology didn’t exist back then, the wire connecting the hand held remote to the airplane was the conduit for power to surge through his body from the overhead lines. Even though the power had been knocked out, he was still surrounded by a highly dangerous field of electricity. No bystanders could go near him or suffer the same fate he had. Clinically, he was considered dead.
Because he had fallen backwards, the remote happened to land upon his chest right by his heart. Within minutes, another 69,000 jolt was sent his way as a circuit breaker was activated to restore the power line that had been interrupted. This time, the thin wire burned away, but the second surge of power had restarted his heart much like a modern day defibrillator. My grandpa, who had been standing by not being able to administer CPR while my dad was still connected to the source of electricity, was able to check his pulse and begin artificial breathing.
My sister, who was 12 at the time, was ordered to go get help while all of this was going on. She has said that this was the day she decided to become a nurse because she never wanted to be in an emergency situation again and feel helpless. At the time of this writing, she is still a very knowledgeable and compassionate RN.
Miraculously, he began to breathe on his own but was transported to the town hospital for inspection. He had multiple burns on his body with tiny grass blade holes in his shoes. Without any further complications, he walked back to my grandma’s house the next day looking no worse for the wear.
One of the things that he kept seeing in his mind, however, was the imprint of his body scorched into the grass at the cabin. Apparently, it took many years for the outline to disappear. A reminder that he almost left the earth that day.
When he returned home, he had some tough days where he questioned why he had lived, and many times suffered through bouts of depression. He never said he saw a light or had the usual near death experience.
Norman Vincent Peale was popular at the time, so he immersed himself in his writings and prayed for guidance and comfort daily. Little by little, he began to relax back into his normal life. Jokingly he said to me, “God didn’t want me and neither did the devil, so I came back.”
How different my life would have been if he had not survived. I would have been born without a dad into a family of five kids. What would my mother’s life been like? It would have impacted us all in a way that we never had to experience. Instead, he lived on to hit his 85th birthday this past March and continues forging ahead to the next milestone.
His survival tells me that life can change very quickly when we least expect it. And, I am called to live it to the fullest every day. I am not to live in fear of my life being cut short or a trauma coming upon me. I am here for a purpose. We all are. It’s more than just paying bills, worrying about how we can or cannot afford a material thing or if our kids are going to turn out okay. With God on our side, we can do all things with strength. If He can raise a man from the dead, how much more can He do for you?
God doesn’t want me to come back to Him accomplishing nothing. Kind of like that firecracker you light and nothing happens. The dud. The dreaded dud that no one likes. You have these high expectations for some sort of sizzle and pop, so you run away expecting something great and nothing happens. That is not our destiny. We are meant to be here so others take notice, come to us for that ‘power surge’ that only comes from Our Creator that gives unlimited peace and joy no matter what. I want my life to be a shining bright light for those who feel like they are alone. For the one who needs his or her head lifted and tears wiped away with laughter.
I don’t know about you, but I am not satisfied with just a little fizzle. I am going out with a bang!
(actual excerpt from the newspaper)