Spring reared its' head early that year.
The month of
June quickly approached and the temperatures were
soaring, hotter and hotter as each new day awakened.
On June 6, 1980, Mark and two of his best friends,
Steve and Roy, decided to ride their bikes out to
Lake LaVon from our home. They left very early that
morning trying to beat the quickly rising
temperatures. Steve was pulling their "camp"
gear behind his bike. What a long way for three 14 year
old boys to ride their bikes, just for a camp out.
They finally arrived at the crowded beach of
Collins Point at Lake LaVon. They enjoyed their
day in the sun swimming, playing beach football,
running, and of course watching the young girls.
They must have been gone several hours when
"THE PHONE CALL"; it was Roy. He sounded very
calm, and cool, then came the news. He told me
Mark had had an accident and the ambulance had
taken him to the nearest hospital, which so happened
to be one of the hospitals close to me. I immediately
called my neighbor and asked her to watch for Marks
dad, as he was just coming home from a business
trip to Corpus Christi. I jumped into my car, headed
for the beach, for some unknown reason, and
immediately left there,and headed straight for the
When I arrived, my husband was already there.
had arrived just as the ambulance had pulled up with
Mark. I leaped from my car and ran up to my
husband. He told me they were transferring Mark to a
We drove to Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas;
arrived at the emergency room panting with anxiety.
Finally, they allowed his dad and I to see him. They
led us to an exam room and there lay Mark, still
on the wooden board from the ambulance, on a
gurney, with all his clothes cut away.
Note: Mark was slated to play baseball that evening.
The first thing Mark said to us when we were
able to be
close to him was, "Did we win?" He knew there was
something seriously wrong, as he couldn't move his
arms or legs. He said, "Ya know mom, your life DOES
pass before you, and it's all in black and white. We
were then asked to return to the waiting room and
would receive further information.
We were sitting in the waiting room, still
in ER, when
there suddenly appeared a doctor. "Hello", he said,
"I'm Jack Sterns, a neurosurgeon." I asked, "Is it
bad?". Dr. Sterns acknowledged that it was VERY
bad. "He'll die or be a quad." "He's broken his
neck that controls his breathing, we call it a
'hangman's' break." My entire world went black.
My husband and I began to cry, then in what seemed
to be a few seconds, I suddenly felt this calmness and
warmth engulf me. I turned to my husband, who was
also in tears, and said, "Don't worry hon, he'll be all
right." We both gained our composure as best we could
then Dr. Sterns asked if Mark had been riding a
motorcycle. We told him no, he'd just been swimming
at the lake. Dr. Sterns had assumed since he
hadn't been riding a motorcycle, then he
must've dove into the water head first.
Mark had told his dad and I that he had been
running INTO the water until it got too deep to run,
so he dove straight forward, not down, and hit
his head on a mound of dirt beneath the water.
He said he immediately felt a tingling sensation in his
body. He called to Roy, who swam from a raft further
out. Mark told Roy he'd jammed his neck, so Roy
supported his head and neck and got Mark back to
The next time we saw Mark, he was in ICU, with
"Garner-Wells" tongs embedded into each side of his
skull. They'd shaved his head completely, drilled a
hole on each side, and inserted the tongs. Connected
to the tongs was a 60 lb bag of sand. He was lying on a
"Stryker" bed, face up.
He asked to see a priest.
I immediately called our church, and the priest
directly to the hospital. Preparations were made
for Mark to receive his First Communion. The next
day the priest returned, Mark was now on his stomach.
Roy's mother, Gail, was visiting him as well as his dad
and I. The priest literally crawled under Marks bed,
lay on the floor, and continued with the sacrament.
He needed a sponsor, so Gail said, "Even though I'm a
Lutheran, may I be his sponsor?" So right then, and
there, Mark received his First Communion into the
Holy Catholic Church.
Dr. Sterns called my husband and I into his
and we were told he'd like to perform surgery on
Marks neck to TRY and mend what he could. Not
only had he broken his neck, he'd also displaced the
two discs. Within a few days, Mark had his surgery,
Dr. Sterns told us he had wired his neck together, and
poured it full of dental plastic. Mark remained in ICU
for about a week, with no progress. He was then
transferred to his own room and thus began his
physical therapy. He had to be fed, dressed,
helped into a chair, etc.
On Father's Day, we got yet another call.
from Mark. He asked if dad was there. I handed the
phone to his dad, and he said, "Happy Father's Day."
"I'm sorry I can't get you anything but I do have
something for you." "Oh?" asked his dad. Mark
replied, "Yep!, I walked across the hall for you today."
Needless to say, we were BOTH overcome with
joy, surprise, and relief.
Mark was released from the hospital, just two
after he hadbroken his neck. He left on his own
two feet. Yes, he'd beaten the odds. We continued his
therapy here at home and in the neighbors pool.
I thought hydro-therapy would make it easier for him
to move his arms and legs. Remember when I told you
he was a baseball player? Well, in just a few weeks,
still in his neck brace, he played baseball, only THIS
time, center field. He didn't care, at least he was
playing. As those years progressed, Mark continued
his sports. He was a wrestling aide at his high
school, but could no longer participate in contact
sports. While he was in high school, he joined the high
school rodeo team, and became a bull rider, much to my
chagrin. Each time he would leave for a rodeo, I would
wince, and he would look at me and say, "Mom, I can
just as easily die walking across the street. I'm not
going to quit living." The only residual effect he has
is a miniscule spot on his left arm that is numb, is able
to turn his head from side to side, up and down,
but not as fully as normal. And as for Roy? He was
awarded a Proclamation by our, then
City Mayor, Ray Noah.
My second encounter deals with my third son,
Steve. He, like his older brother Mark, decided he
was very "into" rodeos. And of course, it had to be,
you guessed it, bull riding.
I was in the kitchen cooking dinner when Steve
in and asked if his younger brother Ron could go with
him to a rodeo in Terrell. My FIRST answer was YES,
then suddenly, I said "No, in fact I don't want either
one of you to go." Steve came back with, "Why mom,
what do you see?" "Red", I said, "just a whole
bunch of red!" He coerced and coerced me,
until I finally gave in to him.
Around 10:00 p.m., I once again received "THE
PHONE CALL". It was his best friend Mike. He said
Steve had had an accident and the ambulance was
taking him to the hospital. I got directions from Mike,
and headed down 635 (LBJ Freeway). I arrived
at the hospital and found Steve in a horrible mess.
Mike told me that when Steve had been "turned out",
the bull immediately began to spin, and buck. Steve
was holding on for dear life. Suddenly, without
warning, Steve was lifted off the bulls back, was thrust
forward at the same time as the bulls head was coming
up. He had literally smashed his face into the bulls
skull, with one of the horns ripping through the brim
of his hat, and tearing his forehead open. The staff told
me it wasn't really serious and released him to me. I
brought him home, with bandages on his forehead,
and blood still pouring from his nose. We talked about
how he felt, and he convinced me he would be alright
for the night. The next morning, I awoke to find his
entire face extremely swollen, and he couldn't breathe
through his nose. He had been living with his girlfriend
at the time, and had no insurance, so I took him to
Parkland Memorial Hospital.
After waiting for approximately eight, long,
hours, the doctors in the emergency room could finally
see him. After examining him, suturing his forehead,
and a few x-rays, they told me they were going to
keep him in the hospital. The first thought that
came to my mind was, if he's THAT bad,
why didn't the other hospital keep him. After he was
placed in a room, the doctor came and consulted with
me about Steve. He told me Steve had literally
shattered all the bones in his nose, it looked like a jig
saw puzzle, had small fractures over his entire head,
and also had small fractures on his temples, and facial
bones. They wanted to perform surgery on his
nose. The doctor was afraid that he had a "floating
bone fragment" very close to his left eye, and would
probably end up blind in that eye. Once again, the
tears began to flow. Then that same warmth,
and calmness over took me once again, and
I knew he'd be alright.
The next day was his surgery date. I
called Fr. Duffy
to see if he could perhaps come to the hospital to see
Steve before he went into surgery. He wasn't able to
leave, so he called the priest at Parkland who came
upstairs immediately. Steve's dad and I were back to
sitting in a waiting room once again. Finally the
surgery was completed, and Steve was placed back in
his room. He now had hard, plastic pieces up each
nostril to try and keep them from collapsing. He was
told NOT to sneeze or cough, and by NO means could
he try and blow his nose. After looking at himself in
a mirror, he said, "Mom, that's it! No more bull
riding for me." His residual effects? Steve is now no
longer able to have the sensation of smell. No longer
can he enjoy the soft, sweet aromas of life.
If you're not faint at heart,
click here to see what
Do I believe in Angels?
I know there were guardian angels
watching over these two boys for me.
And I know an angel came to me each
time they were in danger.
Yes, I DO believe in Angels.
Barefoot and dirty, the little girl just sat
park and watched people go by. She never tried to
speak, she never said a word. Many people
passed, but not one person glanced her way, no
one stopped, including me.
The next day I decided to go back to the park, curious
if the little girl would still be there. Right in
the very spot she was yesterday, she sat perched
on high, with the saddest look in her eyes. But
today I could not just walk away, concerned
only with my affairs. Instead I found myself walking
over to the little girl. For as we all know, a park
full of strange people is not a place for young
children to play alone. As I began walking
towards her, I could see the back of the little
girl's dress indicated a deformity. I figured that
was the reason the people just passed by
and made no effort to care. As I got closer, the
little girl slightlylowered her eyes to avoid my
intent stare. I could see the shape of her back
more clearly. It was grotesquely shaped in a
humped over form.
I smiled to let her know it was okay, I was
there to help, to talk. I sat down beside her and
opened with a simple "hello". The little girl acted
shocked and stammered a "hi" after a long stare
into my eyes. I smiled and she shyly smiled back.
We talked 'til darkness fell And the park was
completely empty. Everyone was gone and we
I asked the girl why she was so sad. The little
looked at me and said, "Because I am different."
I immediately said "That you are!" and smiled.
The little girl acted even sadder, she said,
"I know." "Little girl", I said "you remind me of
an angel, sweet and innocent."
She looked at me and smiled slowly, she stood
her feet and said, "Really?"
"Yes, dear, you're like a little guardian angel
sent to watch over all those people
She nodded her head 'yes' and smiled, and with
that she spread her wings and said, "I am.
I'm your guardian angel." with a twinkle in her
eye. I was speechless, sure I was seeing things.
She said, "And when you began thinking of
someone other than yourself, my job here
Immediately I stood to my feet and said, "Wait,
so why did no one else stop to help an angel?"
She looked at me and smiled, "You're the only
one who could see me", and she was gone.
With that my life was changed dramatically.
when you think you're all you have, remember,
your angel is always watching over you.
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