I was ten. I believe it was around April or May because I remember the red jacket I had on. It was a light jacket and I liked it, but it would be cut off and ruined before the day was over.
I had to walk a ways to catch the bus because the bus did not enter the dead-end road I lived on in Winslow, Maine. The neighborhood kids met at the house of one of the students and waited on the porch for the arrival of the bus. On days when I didn't have to carry my cello, I would usually opt to run to the end of the porch, place my left hand on the railing, and vault over the rail to drop the four or five feet to the ground instead of walking the long way, to the steps. It was much quicker and more fun. And I got to the bus first, which was important to a ten-year-old.
One morning, things changed. The big yellow bus appeared and I ran to the porch rail as I had done many times. The rail must have been wet, because I think my left hand slipped slightly, and this threw me off balance. My right toe caught on the railing, and instead of vaulting over the railing with my feet beneath me, I plunged over headfirst. My right hand lunged out instinctively to break my fall. I heard the sound first-a distinct cracking sound. Then I couldn't see very well and felt so dizzy I couldn't stand. I remember hearing my sister, Esther, yelling that Mom would be mad if I missed the bus. I tried to get up to make the bus, but then the owner of the home with the porch, Mrs. Johnston, insisted that I come inside and that Esther and the others go to school without me. Since Mrs. Johnston had no phone, she had to walk to my house to get my mom.
She left me on a couch and covered me with a blanket. I was so glad for that blanket. I don't remember feeling pain at this time, but I was cold and shaking. While she was gone, I recovered enough to look at my arm. I'll spare you the details, but I was shocked at what I saw, and I couldn't move my hand. I was lying on my side with my arm and hand resting on my right hip. My sister's warning: "Mom's going to be mad" kept ringing in my ears.
Before too long, Mrs. Johnston arrived with both my mom and dad. Mom was fretting over my arm, and made no mention of my missing the bus. (Esther was wrong, ha ha!) Dad took over in his gentle way.
"...For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
He bent over me, brushed my hair back soothingly, and asked how I felt. I told him I felt dizzy, and a little nauseated, and cold. He said I was probably in shock because my arm looked badly broken. He placed a Checkers game board under my arm for stability and carried me to the car.
[I felt safe now. Daddy was here.]
It should have been a quick visit to the usually quiet Sister's Hospital in Waterville, Maine, except I picked the wrong day to break my arm. Edmund S. Muskie, a prominent lawyer who later became the governor of Maine and then a US Senator, had just arrived with his son, Stephen, who needed an x-ray, too. The doctors, nurses, and nuns fussed over the Muskies for what seemed like hours before they got to me, a little ten-year-old girl who was now in great pain, but waiting patiently in a chair for my turn with the only x-ray machine. Only my dad's strong arm wrapped firmly around me kept me calm.
Finally, the x-ray was completed, and I was taken to the operating room, where they expected to surgically open my arm and insert pins, since both bones were completely broken and separated. However, the doctor put me to sleep and first attempted what he thought would be impossible-to set both bones properly without surgery. It worked! A second x-ray proved that the set was perfect, and the doctor cast my arm and sent me home with pain medication.
The medicine helped me to sleep at night, but it wore off much too soon during those first few days. I remember a Sunday afternoon, after dinner, when the pain started and I thought it would never stop throbbing. I started pacing the floor and crying, and I didn't know what to do with myself.
"We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." Romans 8:26
[But Dad knew what to do.]
"...your Father knows what you need before you ask Him." Matthew 6:8
He scooped me up in his arms and sat in the rocking chair, holding me firmly and rocking. It was exactly the right thing to do. I was soon taking a nap in his strong arms. When I awoke, the pain had subsided. It was just like my dad to know what I needed, and then to fulfill that need.
This is a true story from my mother's childhood-she wrote about the incident; I added the scripture verses and bracketed thoughts. When she told me this story, it occurred to me how much the actions of her earthly father echoed the love of God, our Heavenly Father, toward all of us.
I also thought about those who have trouble understanding God as a loving Father, because their earthly father was not a good illustration of fatherly love, due to absence, or abuse, or for whatever reason.
This is a widespread problem, unfortunately, and many children need to be shown the love of the Father through the Godly example of an earthly father figure.
Male readers, especially fathers, consider extending your fatherly love toward "one of the least of these," children who need to be shown who God is, through you. Prayerfully taking a first step today toward sponsoring, foster parenting, mentoring, coaching, becoming a Big Brother, etc., may be...
...exactly the right thing to do.
--by Faith Kern (the rail jumper) and Brenda Kern
April 7, 2002