by Jerry Richardson 3/29/15
Is there a time in your life that you are personally convinced that you were providentially protected? Why do you think that? I had such a time when I was 14-years old.Here is what happened.
My teenage years were spent growing-up on a farm. Although my dad was a school principle, nevertheless we moved to a farm near-by during my early-teen years because he wanted me to grow-up in the same environment that he had grown-up in. To this day I have felt blessed by his choice.
During the summer my dad and I would use a tractor and bush-hog to cut the grass on the pastures where we grazed our small herd of cattle (mostly Herefords for beef but a few Jerseys for milking). When dad took his turn driving the tractor and cutting grass, I would grab my cricket-cage and catch crickets that I would later use as fish bait. There were literally handfuls of crickets available in the wake of the grass cutting.
It was on one of those summer days in late July, with a cage-full of crickets, that dad let me go fishing with an uncle and a cousin so I could use those crickets. The target was red-bellied perch from a small, cold creek not far from where we lived.
I liked to fish, but didn’t have much patience for it; if the fish weren’t biting I would quickly loose interest. That’s what happened on that day; the perch weren’t biting and I got bored; I wanted to do something else.
On that day I learned a valuable but almost deadly lesson on safety that is now often stated on television: “Don’t try this at home.”
What I had seen that I was itching to try were various styles of diving (into water) that I had recently watched on the new black-and-white television that some of our relatives had—we still had our radio; no TV.
So, since the fish weren’t biting and we were fishing in the same, small, cold creek were our swimming-hole was located; I decided I would go over to the ole swimming-hole and go for a swim; and sure, while I was at it I could try-out some of those fancy dives I had watched recently on the TV.
So, telling my uncle and cousin, who were still fishing, what I was going to do I trotted over the fifty yards or so and prepared for the swim. Now when I say prepared for a swim, I simply mean that I undressed. The creek was isolated in the countryside with no houses near-by; and in those days unless we were in mixed company we didn’t bother with swim trucks, and besides I didn’t have any with me. So there I was, ready to go, in my one-and-only birthday suit.
I decided that the first dive I would try would be a swan dive. I still remember how impressed I was with the skill and grace of the divers doing their high swan dives. I could just see myself gracefully gliding through the air before zipping into the water.
Our swimming-hole was in a slightly wider part of the small creek. It was approximately 10 yards across at the widest point, bank-to-bank. There was a large oak tree on the other side, the deepest side, that grew-out of the bank and then turned up. This made an excellent platform for diving—on the other side of the creek.
But today, I was going to dive from the shallow-side of the swimming-hole because I intended to take a long running start and do a high, graceful swan into the deepest part of the creek—probably 8 to 9 feet deep at the most.
So after throwing a few chunks into the water—this was to scare-off the ever present water-moccasin or two that always hung around—I backed-off twenty or thirty yards and sprinted toward the creek for my sure-to-be-sensational first-ever swan dive.
However, upon reaching the edge of the creek, instead of using that momentum to swan-out over the deep part of the creek, I sprung of the creek-bank, undoubtedly in some form of a high jack-knife and went up and then straight down into 3 to 4 feet of water on the shallow side of the creek.
I had no recollection of my head hitting the hard, sandy bottom but it obviously did.
The first thing I was aware of as I quickly regained consciousness, and was floating-up through the water was that I could not move; I was completely paralyzed. And to make matters worse, by this time I was in the deep part of the creek.
It was strange.
I wasn’t in pain, and I did not feel any fear even though I knew I had better get some help. So as my head bobbed-up out of the water, I hollered for help; closed my month; went under and bobbed-up again; hollered again, etc. This sequence happened several times in a row while I was still completely paralyzed. Fortunately my uncle and cousin heard me, and they ran over and pulled me out of the water—paralyzed and with mud all over my best birthday suit.
I still had no sense of fear.
I mention this because somehow, even as a 14-year old boy, I “knew” that God was protecting me during that ordeal. Don’t ask me how I knew, I just knew.
After my uncle and cousin had pulled me out, they walked me over to the shallow part of the creek where I wash the mud off. It was only then that I felt some alarm; and it was because as I reached for a handful of water and brought it toward my face, I suddenly hit myself in the face with my hand—I had no control over part of the range of movement of my own arms and hands. That got my attention; I knew something was wrong. But strangely I still was not afraid.
My folks took me to the nearest town where there was a hospital and they x-rayed and found that I had fractured the 3rd vertebra in my neck. It was sometime later that I was told that I was lucky that I wasn’t a paraplegic or more probably a quadriplegic—I never thought of it as luck; to me it was God’s providence; He looked-after a dumb 14 year old boy: Me.
I spent the next month in an un-air-conditioned hospital flat of my back on a hard hospital bed with 3-pounds of weight attached to a harness around my jaw and neck—designed to keep the neck-bone straight. After that month, when I first got-up, I had to actually relearn how to walk. Then following that I wore a neck-brace for three months. There was a lot of discomfort but after that I returned to normal; later lifting weights, playing football, jumping out of airplanes—no problem with the fractured neck.
Was I lucky? You can certainly call it that if you like. I will always call it God’s providence and thank Him for it.
© 2015, Jerry Richardson • (2924 views)