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an occasional newsletter of the Nanty Glo Home Page                           January 28 2001

A memorable almost-visit to Indian Caverns

In reflecting on the relative poverty of our youth, growing up in the late '40's and the '50's, I recalled an incident that seemed indicative of the post-great-depression mindset, at least in our household. In a very uncharacteristic gesture, Dad took Mom and me (the older brothers gone from home and brother Gary sufficiently older enough that he always had independent adgendas for such days by this time) on a picnic on a particular Fourth of July. I'm guessing I was 13, which would have made it 1955. We drove east, past Hollidaysburg toward Centre and Huntingdon Counties and found a park only a couple of miles from Indian Caverns.

It was a lovely day and we enjoyed being a family for a rare instance other than working on the farm (many's the holiday it had been that Dad planned that kind of activity instead of an outing). After we'd eaten and seen the park enough, thinking about the next step, Dad said maybe we should take in Indian Caverns. Yes! I had never been in any cavern or even a cave big enough to get out of sight of the entrance, and I thought this would be a first-rate climax of a good day.

But, on second thought, Dad wondered if it would be too expensive and maybe we shouldn't. Being a coal miner for well over 30 years now, Dad had certainly had enough time underground. I don't remember Mom being against it, though her first question about any proposal (if it wasn't against her scruples) was, "can we afford it?" After just a little rumination, Dad changed his mind. No spelunking for us; we couldn't afford it. I was crushed, and made darn sure as a result that my children would get enough spelunking (cave touring) in their growing years to drive them to boredom.

That's the way it was.

How was it in your life...either as a child or a parent? Have an experience you can share to the list?

If the following item of the day is a joke, it will be indicated by happy face icons ; if an inspirational item. by book icons .

The smell of rain

You will never smell rain in the same way again!

A cold March wind danced around the dead of night in Dallas as the doctor walked into the small hospital room of Diana Blessing.

Still groggy from surgery, her husband David held her hand as they braced themselves for the latest news. That afternoon, March 10, 1991, complications had forced Diana, only 24-weeks pregnant, to undergo an emergency Cesarean to deliver the couple's new daughter, Danae Lu Blessing.

At 12 inches long and weighing only one pound and nine ounces, they already knew she was perilously premature. Still, the doctor's soft words dropped like bombs. "I don't think she's going to make it," he said as kindly as he could. "There's only a 10-percent chance she will live through the night, and even then, if by some slim chance she does make it, her future could be a very cruel one."

Numb with disbelief, David and Diana listened as the doctor described the devastating problems Danae would likely face if she survived. She would never walk, she would never talk, she would probably be blind, she would certainly be prone to other catastrophic conditions from cerebral palsy to complete mental retardation, and on and on.

"No! No!" was all Diana could say. She and David, with their 5-year-old son Dustin, had long dreamed of the day they would have a daughter to become a family of four. Now, within a matter of hours, that dream was slipping away. Through the dark hours of morning as Danae held onto life by the thinnest thread, Diana slipped in and out of sleep, growing more and more determined that their tiny daughter would liveand live to be a healthy, happy young girl.

But David, fully awake and listening to additional dire details of their daughter's chances of ever leaving the hospital alive, much less healthy, knew he must confront his wife with the inevitable. David walked in and said that the couple needed to talk about making funeral arrangements.

Diana remembers, "I felt so bad for him because he was doing everything, trying to include me in what was going on, but I just wouldn't listen, I couldn't listen. I said, 'No, that is not going to happen, no way! I don't care what the doctors say, Danae is not going to die! One day she will be just fine, and she will be coming home with us!'"

As if willed to live by Diana's determination, Danae clung to life hour after hour, with the help of every medical machine and marvel her miniature body could endure. But as those first days passed, a new agony set in for David and Diana. Because Danae's under-developed nervous system was essentially "raw," the lightest kiss or caress only intensified her discomfort, so they couldn't even cradle their tiny baby girl against their chests to offer the strength of their love. All they could do, as Danae struggled alone beneath the ultraviolet light in the tangle of tubes and wires, was to pray that God would stay close to their precious little girl.

There was never a moment when Danae suddenly grew stronger. But as the weeks went by, she did slowly gain an ounce of weight here and an ounce of strength there. At last, when Danae turned two months old, her parents were able to hold her in their arms for the very first time. And two months later—though doctors continued to gently but grimly warn that her chances of surviving, much less living any kind of normal life, were next to zero—Danae went home from the hospital, just as her mother had predicted.

When this was written, five years later, Danae was a petite but feisty young girl with glittering gray eyes and an unquenchable zest for life. She shows no signs whatsoever of any mental or physical impairments. Simply, she is everything a little girl can be and more. But that happy ending is far from the end of her story.

One blistering afternoon in the summer of 1996, near her home in Irving, Texas, Danae was sitting in her mother's lap in the bleachers of a local ballpark where her brother Dustin's baseball team was practicing. As always, Danae was chattering non-stop with her mother and several other adults sitting nearby when she suddenly fell silent. Hugging her arms across her chest, Danae asked, "Do you smell that?" Smelling the air and detecting the approach of a thunderstorm, Diana replied, "Yes, it smells like rain." Danae closed her eyes and again asked, "Do you smell that?" Once again, her mother replied, "Yes, I think we're about to get wet, it smells like rain." Still caught in the moment, Danae shook her head, patted her thin shoulders with her small hands and loudly announced, "No, it smells like Him. It smells like God when you lay your head on His chest."

Tears blurred Diana's eyes as Danae then happily hopped down to play with the other children. Before the rains came, her daughter's words confirmed what Diana and all the members of the extended Blessing family had known, at least in their hearts, all along. During those long days and nights of her first two months of her life, when her nerves were too sensitive for them to touch her, God was holding Danae on His chest and it is His loving scent that she remembers so well.

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men." Titus 2:11

God Bless...Pass it on
Sent by Alice Pruitt

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