The following was not written by me. It was written by my mother-in-law. It was recently read at her funeral. I hope that when my time comes, I’ll have something as profound and meaningful to leave for my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. It will be of help when picturing these events to understand that this woman was about five foot in every direction.
40 Hours of Reflection
by Darlene Wilson
A church service is 2 hours long. The Titanic movie 3 hours long. Watching 40 episodes of the Friends TV program back to back would take 20 hours. 40 hours is a full work week.
I spent the longest and most challenging 40 hours of my life trapped in a bathtub. I was not trying to set a world record for the longest bath for 77 year old woman, it was an accident. I’m telling you this only to glorify God, because God is my strength.
My story begins on Tuesday, December 15, 2003, shortly before 10 p.m. I had spent several hours handing out oranges at the food pantry and doing errands and was incredibly tired. I raced through the front door my mobile home without even locking it behind me as I really needed to get to the bathroom! I was so exhausted I fell asleep sitting on the stool. When I finally woke and stood up, my right foot and leg were numb and I lost my balance.
The stool was near the tub and the shower. The tub had a hard plastic folding shower door with a soft blue cloth shower curtain covering it. I fell against the folding door and into my empty four foot long bathtub with a crumpled shower door underneath me. I faintly remember removing pieces of the shower door, then assessing my situation. I was fully closed, but without my shoes. I was wearing my glasses and watch. The light was on.
I tried many times to get out of the tub without success. Since my knee replacements, I couldn’t kneel, so that made it difficult. As a diabetic, I needed medicine and food. I began praying for God to be with me and for him to do a miracle. I asked God if I was being punished or had done something wrong. He assured me that I wasn’t being punished; it was an accident. “Forgive me for thinking that. Devil get behind me, I belong to Jesus Christ and you can have none of me.” I bound the devil and kept chanting Jesus, Jesus, and Jesus.
Eventually my family would come looking for me, however, I have no idea how long I would be confined to the tub. I did know I needed depend on Him for survival tactics. I am week, but he is strong. I needed to keep focused and listen to him.
There was no one to talk to other than God. I pray and read my bible every morning, but this was closer communion for a longer period of time than I had ever experienced. These were some of the things He told me:
He was there for me and would never leave me or forsake me
He was not the cause, but the answer to my problem
I must move my feet and legs and do ankle pops. I must do some exercises to keep my body moving.
I needed to breathe deeply and cough so I wouldn’t get hypostatic pneumonia. I didn’t even know what that was!
I needed liquid to survive
I needed to sleep, if possible
I thanked God the bathroom door was open, the heat was a at 70º and I was warm … most of the time.
I tried to turn on water, but the faucets were high up on the wall. I finally got the cold water on a bit. It dripped on my feet. I cupped my hand to get a few teaspoonfuls of water so I could get a drink. The water dripped on my blouse and chilled me as I brought my hand to my mouth. After drinking a little water, I worked to shut it off. Many times over the coming hours I repeated the steps to keep from dehydrating.
The muscle spasms were intense starting at my groin and spreading down my legs. I prayed through them. They kept coming and I kept praying. I was uncomfortable in other ways. Let’s just say I know why a baby cries when their pants are wet. God was there for me spiritually, physically and emotionally. His staff ministered to me at all times keeping me from feeling sorry for myself and helping me control my thoughts and emotions.
I sang hymns and childhood songs, recited the books of the Bible, praised God, prayed in tongues and recited poems I had learned in grade school. Occasionally, I slept. I kept remembering events from my life as I thought about my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I reminisced about my husband, Darrell, and good times we had in our life together and about my parents, four brothers and four sisters.
I thought about my extremely hard of hearing grandmother, Hattie Teter, and what a strong influence she had on my life. She was the spiritual leader of our family reading the Bible to us, taking us to church every Sunday and setting a good example. She reflected the love of God.
One thing she taught me was not to worry. She said worry with a lack of faith in God. If you had faith in God, you gave your problems to him and it was up to him to solve them.
I laughed at some memories I realize I had never even told my children. We attended a small country church with a potbellied stove. There was no water, no inside toilet, just a path out behind, but God was there and so was I. At age 10, sermons could be rather dull. Sitting next to the minister’s daughter, I played a game during the sermon. She opened the song book and explained that to every song title we added the words “under the bed.”
Jesus loves me… under the bed. Amazing grace … under the bed. Joy to the world … under the bed. What a friend we have in … Jesus under the bed. We began giggling uncontrollably. Her mother came over and took the song look away from us. We knew better than to try that again, at least not in church!
I remember how happy we were when our first daughter, Becky, was born. We were married 5 years and 1 day when she arrived. I can still see the little pink toes and fingers as I cuddled her cheek. The memory was a happy one, yet brought tears to my eyes. This was the first time we experienced God’s miracle of birth. We felt this joy three more times when Linda, Shelley and Janet were born.
I had a flashback to Becky’s kindergarten days. Our wedding anniversary with February 27th and her birthday was February 28th. She came home from school on her birthday telling me she had announced to the teacher that her parents were married one day and she was born the next. I quickly ask if you had explained we had been married 5 years and 1 day before she was born. “No,” was her response, “she didn’t ask!”
God kept my mind busy and I didn’t dwell on my situation. Even in the bathtub I had peace and joy. He reminded me of the times He had already saved my life. At 5 I took my 4 year old brother, Gene and our dog to the creek. The dog kept me from drowning that day. To avoid a severe seat warming, I never told my parents.
At 12 I had measles with an extremely high fever and was delirious for three days. During the depression you didn’t have a doctor come in for search minor ailments. I survived, although my hair began to grey from that day forward.
At age 64 I was in a car accident that left me pinned in my vehicle while it was turned on its side with the engine still running. The emergency squad broke my back window, turned off the ignition, and cut my seatbelt so they could free me with the jaws of life. I walked away with only bruises. God protected me, once again.
I thought about other times God was with me. He told me this time was no different. His tremendous love provided divine protection many times throughout my life. Praise God for such a wonderful Savior who cares and protects us.
Outside the bathtub, the world was continuing on as usual. I felt like it was passing me by. I could hear the daily routine to the neighbors and my phone ringing. Was someone looking for me? I could tell daylight from dark and, of course, the time. Although I felt detached from the world, I felt a constant connection with God.
A few minutes before 2 p.m. on Wednesday, December 17, I heard a noise at my front door as someone came in. I always lock the door, but realize I forgot in my haste to get to the bathroom.
As I screamed for help a voice said, “I’m here, Grandma, it’s Alyssa.”
When I saw her white winter hat as she rushed into the bathroom, I told her she looked just like an angel. “Thank you Lord, thank you Lord, praise His name!”
Alyssa gave me a glass of water and called 911. When the police arrived they ask me some stupid questions to see if my time in the tub had affected me mentally. I told him I wasn’t any worse of mentally than I usually was! More police, and an emergency squad and an ambulance arrived to extract me form my plastic prison. I was shaking smelly and ready to be released. At the hospital I was told my sugar level was a little high, my muscles were weak, but all other tests were normal. Once again, God had his hand on my life.
I came out of this ordeal with the greater appreciation for life and God. I cherish many things that I once took for granted. I can use my arms and legs, see, hear, eat and enjoy my grandchildren. I can get a drink of water, drive my car and sleep in a comfortable bed between sheets. He said, “I come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” My life was more abundant because of my 40 hour confinement.
Don’t give up because God doesn’t answer your prayers in your time frame. God’s timing is not ours. He is neither ahead or behind: he is always on time. Although I waited 40 hours, I wasn’t mad at God. I knew God was the solution, not the problem! If anyone is wondering if God is real, have no doubt.
Did I mention my insurance policy? It covered me even when I was in the bathtub. My insurance agent is Jesus Christ. I have full coverage and it cost me nothing. He paid the premium in full over 2000 years ago when He died on the cross. If you don’t have this type of insurance policy, please consider talking to my insurance agent. His phone number is 1 800 P-R-A-Y-E-R.