It appears as though His Highness has granted me another trip around the sun. I have a lot of trips at this point in my life. That’s OK though. As long as I’m here as long as Betty White, who shares a birthdate with me. Both of us use Jan. 17 as our birthday, but she has used it longer than me.
Not a day goes by that I don’t give thanks to His Highness for granting me another one. I am mystified as to why I am still here. I have no idea what is expected from me, but I will try to do as He wants. I had loving parents who stayed with each other and loved their children until He called them home. I still can’t quite figure it all out, but then it was meant that way.
I have memories of wonderful times as a child and the loving welcome of my parents when I came home from my many trips around the world while in service to our country. My mother made sure I knew, even as a child, the wonders of our Lord. We moved around quite often, but she always found a church where we could worship and witness the grace of God.
I remember the first time I ever called upon the Lord to save me from earthly trials. He never failed to watch over me and deliver me from harm, and I always gave thanks for His presence. The first time was when my brothers and I were playing “hide and go seek” with a group of neighborhood boys. This is when we lived in Lompoc.
I was the youngest, so I had to find a really good place to hide or I would be found out pretty quick. After one boy started counting to 100, I ran over to these huge old rusty pipes about 15 feet long and 24 inches wide. I looked around and told myself they would never look for me in one of these pipes. It was so slick I had to hold on to the lip of the pipe to keep from falling down the tube. As soon as I slipped into position, I had a small “aha” moment. I could slide into the pipe, but it was too narrow for me to bend my arms as I would have to do if I wanted to pull myself out. It was a moment of “How do I get out?”
I figured that there would be at least one bigger boy around to pull me out. I never thought about the sign we had seen that said “Keep out!” Not just the pipe, but the whole barn. Hey, we were kids, what did we know? If they didn’t want kids playing in a perfectly good barn, they should have locked it up better.
It was such a good hideout that the older boys thought I had gone home. I was pretty young, so they didn’t care either way. After I had rubbed rust in all my clothes, I thought it was time to get out. I should have decided that a little earlier. There I was, stuck in a big old pipe and all my yelling had not brought forth a single hero. I should have known they would leave me the first chance they got.
I started yelling, hoping I was making enough noise to let them know of their mistake. No such luck. They were gone. After I thought about that a moment, I started to cry. Yeah, I know I’m a cry baby, but you weren’t there.
Thinking I was all alone, I decided I had better figure a way out. Through my tears I saw a light at the base of the pipe. The pipe was laying on its side, not quite flat but a higher angle than I could climb. But the light just kept shining, so I let go of the rim of the pipe and fell about 10 feet to the base. I thought for a moment that I had done a good job, as I could feel dirt with my sneakers. I thought I could dig myself out, but that didn’t work. I couldn’t pull myself up either.
After I stood there for a moment, I started yelling as hard as I could. I figured they must be looking for me. (I found out later they thought I was hiding from them, so they decided to play a trick on me by going home.) I tried kicking the pipe, but my worn-out sneakers weren’t as loud as my yelling, which quickly turned into crying, which turned into sobbing, which turned into fear. It was getting late and the sun just barely reached any into the barn and certainly not the pipe.
This naturally turned into praying. Every night I would say, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep,” so He is surely looking out for me. My mom told us many times that God is the answer to our prayers. Well, I needed Him now!
I don’t know how long I was down there. I would cry out every so often just in case God needed to know where I was. As it got darker, I was imagining the wrong things were answering my calls. Answers I didn’t want to hear. It had gone very quiet as the night creatures had not come out yet and the day monsters were going to sleep. “Please God,” I asked. Then, all of a sudden I was calm. I don’t know why, but it just became still and I wasn’t afraid anymore. Well, I was scared, but I didn’t fear the monsters I feared the thought my mom must be having. Little did I know, she had dispatched the cavalry to find me and save the day.
My brothers had shown up for dinner and when I wasn’t with them, she told them the terrible thing that would happen to them if they didn’t go find me right now. After they didn’t show enough excitement of looking for their little brother, my dad got involved. They took off yelling my name and running every which way. Then my older brother remembered that we had been playing in the old barn, although we had been told not to go there. So he said it was my fault (they always said that) but that I might be in the barn.
So after running all the way to the barn, they came through the door yelling enough to wake the dead. Here I was with dirt and snot and torn shoes in the pipe. I took a moment to stop and tell God, “Thank you.” They started talking to me to get me to quit crying and tried to figure a way out of the pipe.
Strangely enough, I remembered a little girl who had fallen down a half-sealed water pipe about 10 miles from us. It had been a big thing when it happened. They had put school kids and anybody not working out in the fields where she was last seen. Then, one of the high school boys kicked the old water pipe and heard a cry. He started yelling and they brought the fire engine and everything to get her out. The boy that had found her was tied to a rope around his ankles and dropped down until he could get a good grip on her and they pulled her up. I remembered because my mom had said it was the “work of God” that got her out.
I wasn’t looking for God, but I was pretty happy when my brother stuck his head into the top of the pipe and called my name. I had stopped crying because I didn’t have any more tears. He dropped down a rope and they pulled me up. Nothing in the newspapers, but the story was told at school.