Wind cooled the October day I arrived on the Western Slope of Colorado and made my presence known with a lusty cry.
Seems I'm always letting people know I'm around—but just recently, as a senior citizen, I looked back and realized my life has been a miracle, almost from the beginning.
Mom pregnant with me, my parents escaped from the Great Depression and the Kansas Dust bowl to the lush valley ringed by the
Rocky Mountains, their old truck packed with a few possessions and seven children. The towered from a mammoth bosom of boulders and canyons almost on their doorstep to the south. The lush flat-topped Grand Colorado National Monument Mesa rose from Peach Country to the East; the barren book cliffs followed the remainder of the valley around to the north and west into the desert. Utah
My brothers and sisters heard my cry and peeked into the bedroom after the doctor left the house, but my oldest sister kept her distance.
“We have enough children!” Marge said, according to what everyone told me with a laugh. Marge knew every mouth to feed meant hardship, and she wouldn't look at me for a week. Somehow, I won her heart and love.
It must have been the next spring after Daddy plowed the huge garden spot where Everette, Marge and Mom, shaded with a big straw hat, dug long rows and dropped seeds into the damp soil.
They heard a wild scream from the house. Clara, one of our six redheads, could shriek so you'd hear her for miles.
“Mama! Come. Hurry!”
Daddy and my oldest brother, Virgil, weren't home. They worked 12 hours a day shoveling coal from railroad cars into trucks for one dollar a day.
Joe, my 2-year-old brother, had dumped a shaker of salt into my eyes.
Mom stormed into the house with me howling, Clara screaming and everyone crying—including Joe. With no car or money to take me to a doctor, Mom grabbed me, used her amazing wisdom, washed my eyes out, put in eye drops and prayed.
I've never had serious problems with my vision. A miracle.
The screen door slammed often in those days, Mom popping in to breast-feed me, then hurrying back out to plant, hoe and water, leaving me to my brothers and sisters. If the tomatoes, green beans, corn and other produce didn't grow, our table, cellar and stomachs would be empty.
In the fall a couple of years later my sister, Joan, gave me a bath in a dishpan. She always loved babies and talked to me, getting me to giggle. Then she sat me on top of the wood-burning cook stove, which didn't have a fire in it much of the summer. That day, however, it did. I still have the scars on my backside.
I froze my feet going ice skating when I was about 10. My friends talked me into skating on the gravel pit next to the
Colorado River—a long way from my house. Before I got back home, my feet had no feeling and felt like bricks tromping on the snow-packed road. I didn't want anyone to know I'd gone to the river so I immediately put my feet in hot water. They turned black, swelled and that's when I started to pray. I couldn't wear my own shoes so everyone knew what I'd done. But, praise the Lord, I recovered and had no foot problems.
Those are three of my earliest miracles. But there are more. I'll tell you about a few of them sometime.
Recently at lunch with three of my brothers and their wives, the conversation went to things I've been through.
“It's a wonder you survived,” Millie said.