Second Chance

27 08 2012

ImageHope everyone has been having a great summer while I was away.  My Lady and I took some time off to do a little traveling plus get some other things accomplished that I’ve needed to.  Part of our trip away took us back to our hometown where we attended a reunion, visited with old friends, and just took in the sights of the old stomping grounds.  No trip back to Fremont would be complete without going be the old homestead and seeing what shape it’s in; but this isn’t it.  The old house I grew up in was an old two story apartment house that my family turned into a single dwelling over on the east side of town.  As family members passed on or returned to our place of origin, Southern West Virginia, the house was sold and mom and I moved over to west side into this colonial style house you’re looking at in the picture.  This was a complete opposite of our 1st home, which went from a multi-unit to a single dwelling.  This place had been a single living complex, probably very beautiful in the early part of the 20th Century, to a 3 apartment house with my mother and me sharing the top floor.  She and I had done apartment living a couple of other times while residing in Fremont, but always moved back to the Howland Street house; always back home.  This time was different, there was no moving back for there was no home or family there anymore, it was just me and her; that was a very strange feeling.  Being just the two of us, there was no need for a large house, and frankly, by that point in my life I spent little time there anyway.  Matter of fact, I didn’t even have a key to the place, but there was no need.  If I was out late and the place was locked up I had my own way in. Standing on the concrete banister on the porch I could reach up and grab the top of the yellow arch, then swinging my foot over on a lower, flat surface of the arch.  I could propel myself up enough to grab the ledge beneath my bedroom window, push open the window that I kept unlocked, and slide into my room.  It was a rather precarious feat, scaling up the side of this building with little to grab on to, but back then I was easily 50 pounds lighter and very agile.  The whole task of getting in my window I could do in seconds, but that was also the trick to the stunt; keep going, don’t stop, use the momentum to boost yourself up. Yep, that was me back then, no fear of harm, ten feet tall and bullet proof, or so I thought.

My man Lynn and I had just come from performing music at a venue.  Before, and after the concert we made the decision to indulge in what could be referred to as “enjoying herbal ecstasy to the fullest extent.” (Okay, we got stoned, alright?!  Remember, I was young, and DUMB!)  The hour was late and we needed a place to sleep.  No problem, just head over the apartment and my shortcut into the house.  Remember I said one of the secrets of climbing the outside wall was keep moving?  Well, that’s a little hard to do when ¾ of your brain cells are numb.  All I remember is hoisting myself up as always, but stalling out on the ledge under my window.  The next thing I knew I was floating into my friend’s car.  Actually what happened is I lost my grip, fell backwards, striking the cement banister with my back which slowed my rate of fall, and then landing on the sidewalk, head and shoulders first; BAM!!  Lynn gathered me up, got me in his car and sped off to the ER at the hospital.  That had to be quite a trick on his part seeing I was a good 4 inches taller than him and the car he got me into was a compact VW Karmann Ghia.  Now that’s working off pure adrenaline; praise God for it and Brothers like Lynn! 

At the hospital things were coming back to me, but in a weird way.  If I opened my eyes there were no images, only blinding swirls of light that made no sense so I would shut them again.  People around me were yelling and moving me fast from one point to another, I was placed on my back and it felt like they turned a water hose loose on my head.  They had to wash away the blood to see where the injury was.  I heard someone say, “We’re going to have to cut this hair away so I can see what we’ve got, hand me the razor.”  I must have tried to say something because the next thing I heard was, “Shut up, it’ll grow back!” Works for me!  A couple of hours must have passed, but it seemed like an eternity.  I was now in a dark room, which was easier on my eyes.  I had a couple of IVs hooked to my arm and I was finally alone with just one thought going through my head, “God, what’s going on here, am I going to die?”  Next moment, sleep; at least that’s what I hoped it was.

When morning came, my sight was returning more to normal.  Nurses were checking my vitals and I found I was in some type of male ward with several other men.  My girlfriend was there along with my mom. Later Lynn and the rest of the guys in the band came to see me.  Except for some aches and pains I felt pretty normal.  When the doctor came in, he started by ripping me a new one for pulling such a stupid stunt–no argument.  “Four things saved your life,” he stated, “When you hit the banister most of the impact was on your back, bouncing off that you landed shoulders first with your head whip lashing against the concrete, which again softened the blow to that thick head of yours.  The third is if your buddy hadn’t been there, most likely would have died from losing blood–you never forget what he did for you.” (I haven’t.)   “Hey Doc, you said there were four reasons, that’s only three.”  He was now giving a look that seem to say, “Don’t you get it?  I don’t know anything about you, son, but my feeling is that you need to thank God that we’re here talking this morning.  Had that fall occurred just and inch father back you wouldn’t be here today, I’m still shaking my head when I think about it.”  So am I still today and that’s been over 40 years now.

I was released from the hospital 2 days later and spent the good part of the following week just lying low and thinking a lot of thinking about what the Doc said.  Why was I still here?  Why did it turn out the way it did?  Was it luck?  Was it more? 

I had been in church off and on my whole life and I held to the position that there was a God, but I just didn’t understand how that related to me, or how he saw me, or if He even cared for me.  I guessed He did, but I didn’t how or why He did; just wasn’t sure what to believe.  A few more days passed and I finally left home and walked over to this old dance studio, where my band practiced.  I was a little unbalanced on my feet and also self-conscious about the gapping bald spot in the back of my head where they shaved the hair to stitch me up, but still, it was good once again to be out in the world.  Walking up the stairs to the studio, I could hear two people talking; it was my buddy who had been with me the night of the accident and a fellow musician who had been the drummer before I joined the band.  I was going to make a joke about being replaced since I now had brain damage, but their talk seemed too serious for me to interrupt, so I just went to the kitchen, got a beer and came back and sat down.  The fellow drummer was talking religion to my friend; I had heard he’d become one of those “Jesus Freaks,” but I just saw it as another passing fad.  But hey, as long as he’s happy why knock him, so I sat quietly and listened, and then listened some more.  He was talking about a God that loved me so much that nothing could take that love away, (Romans 8:38,39) and that God was offering me a free Gift (Romans 6:23) and that I could know I’m going to Heaven someday (1John 5:13, John 17:3) and that God’s love was so immense for us that He sent His Son to pay a price for my life (John 3:16).  I could go on or even put in a cliché here to stress my point, but I’m not going to; it comes down to this, you either believe it or you don’t.  That night I left thinking about all I was told about the love of God, and life.  I didn’t do anything with that knowledge for some time except think, a lot.  Finally a commitment came to believe what I had been told, what the Bible says.  Has it always been an easy commitment?  Nope.  Have I wavered from what I believe at times?  I’d be lying to you if I told you no.  But through the years of studying many beliefs as well as my own, I find Jesus to be the only one that holds truth.  Do I expect everyone to agree with me?  No, but my belief in Christ wouldn’t be worth much if I didn’t feel that way, now would it?  Remember, I always try to stress I’m not a religious man, just one of faith, and in Christ is where I’ll take my stand!

Occasionally, we make it back to our hometown and once in a while I walk past that old house on Park Avenue.  For years you could still see the bloodstains from where I landed; and I remember that night and I thank God for sparing my life.  I then look up to the window where my room sat, and I remember Oct. 7, 1972.  That’s the night I knelt by my bed and asked a blood stained Savior to come into my heart; and I thank God for that night when he gave me Life.  Awesome!

I don’t know what tomorrow brings since I’m still accident prone to this day (once a goof, always a goof, I guess!), but I do know what my future holds, Life!  Bring It!!!


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