Middle of June,1996.
Linda and I were fishing up in Canada near the town of Kenora,in Ontario.
We had gone to Perch Bay Resort for many years,so I knew the lakes and rivers fairly well.
The backwaters is where I always liked to fish,it is remote and you don't see much civilization.
The old rocks,the trees,the wildlife and being with your best friend is truly one of God's gifts.
This particular week we took Mark my son and his friend Paul Nelson with us.
We had good weather,good fishing and good eating too.
Wednesday,June 18 was a warm day,just a little overcast.
Linda and I took off in our boat to fish in the farthest part of the lakes we could get to.After a few hours it started to rain a little.It didn't bother us as we often fished in the rain.We were prepared with rain suits.
We decided to drift back towards are camp and let the current take us where it would.
I would move the boat close to the shore,then father away looking for the big fish.
A few more hours we just fished,talked and enjoyed the day.
In the early afternoon it started raining harder.We still were not to concerned.
Then it rained very hard.The wind picked up.I was hoping it would blow over as I wanted to stay out on the boat.
I pulled the boat closer to shore to take some shelter from the wind.The wind continued.
Closer to the shore it was a bit more peaceful so,we fished some more.
The wind got bad then,really bad.
I was 10 feet from the shore when there was a micro burst of wind.This is when the wind can be 100 miles per hour in a localized area.I thought I should land the boat on the shore.I was always a great thinker!
The trees were swaying.The pine trees were almost bent to the ground.
I felt branches on my arms.
My memory at this point is vague but I will do my best to reconstruct what happened next.
I saw a tree coming at us,it was falling right on us,I turned pushed Linda out of the way,I think I said watch out!
In that next moment my life was changed.The tree hit me.On my back.I remember the sound it made as it hit me.
It hit just below the middle of my back.The tree bent the aluminum boat badly.
I was down,laying on my back in the bottom of the boat.
The pain was horrible,I was gasping for breath.I was in agony.
The air would not come into my lungs.I yelled to Linda "I am dying now,I am dying".
Now the memory is not good but I remember Linda praying,asking God to calm me and asking for breath.
Prayer works,as you know.
I lay there,my head cradled by Lin.
I thought I would try to move my knees and my feet.If I could do that I was thinking I would not be paralyzed.
I moved my knees and then passed out.
We must have floated around for 30 minutes. In a boat that looked pretty beat up.
Somehow Mark and Paul found us.They were in the same area as we were and racing back to the camp to get out of the rain too.
I remember Paul was in the water,taking the tree the still was on my and lifting it off.
The next thing I remember was Mark starting the boat motor and trying to get us back to the camp. I know he could not see over the bow of the boat very well because of the way the boat was bent like the letter V.
It was raining hard again,We were 30 minutes from the camp.
We made it to shore.I was still laying in the bottom of the boat,passing in and out of consciousness.
Paul had gone ahead in Marks boat to get help.
There were about 20 fisherman on shore waiting to help.
One was a lady named Linda and I won't ever forget her.
The 2 paramedics somehow got a board under me and lifted me out with the help of several fisherman.
I awoke in the hospital briefly.I heard my wife talking to the nurses about what to do,send me to a larger hospital in Winnipeg or charter a plane to get me home.
She charted a plane with 2 paramedics and they flew me all the way to Lansing,Illinois.
I had broken about 27 bones,cracked ribs and damaged a kidney.
Recovery time was long.Years.
My back still gets sore now,but it could be that I am older.
I will always be grateful to God,Linda,Mark and Paul for the needed help and needed prayers.
Many stories come to mind now about how friends helped with prayers,visits,so many cards(which I still have and treasure) and even money which was sorely needed then.
I went back to visit that same spot where the tree hit me the next year.I was still in a body brace and could not bend very well but I had the determination to face it.
Half the tree was still there up on shore.
I got out of the boat.Hobbled to the tree and just looked at it for a long time.
I started painting with oils that year and I think I painted that tree a hundred times.
your life can change in one second.If I had died I was ready to go Home.
I still am ready.
And I still go fishing.